Report finds that Warwickshire children of all ages have been impacted by Covid and the closure of schools

Mental health and social services for youngsters across the county are now under increased demand following both lockdowns.Cllr Jo Barker (Con, Shipston) said: “We have caused massive damage and I absolutely hope and pray that we never do anything like this again.”

Children of all ages across Warwickshire have been impacted by Covid and the closure of schools to pupils.

Those were the findings of a report drawn up by council officers and presented to this week’s meeting of Warwickshire County Council’s children and young persons overview and scrutiny committee.

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The report said: “The Covid-19 virus outbreak has had a detrimental effect on the lives of many children and young people especially those who were already experiencing mental health problems, those already vulnerable in society and those children and young people already requiring support from services of some type.

One of the public health posters used by the NHS during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stock image.

“The worry and anxiety about becoming infected (or one of their family members becoming infected), living in isolation, not being able to go to school and the impact on their education, and family financial difficulties have brought a whole new raft of problems which have hugely increased psychological distress and compounded the mental health problems of not only those children already in services, but additional children and young people across the county.

“The biggest challenge this has presented services with is the significant growth in demand especially for mental health services and social care.”

The report explained that even those children just starting school suffered with some of them heading into reception classes with delayed language development as they were unable to mix with others during the lockdown.

Committee members said lessons needed to be learned. Cllr Yousef Dahmash (Con, Hillmorton), who chaired the meeting, said: “I was never a fan of lockdowns and I don’t think lockdowns work. I don’t dispute that this council did all it could but I disagreed with going into lockdown and I think we made problems that already existed infinitely worse. We gave children without problems, problems and it is going to take so long to unravel the problems.”

Cllr Jo Barker (Con, Shipston) added: “If we are talking about lessons to be learned then I will quote the Secretary of State for Education who said we will never close schools again.

“It was unnecessary, it was ridiculous and we are now reaping the whirlwind of what we did. I am ashamed to have been complicit in this. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a psychiatrist to see what was coming down the track.

“When the government says to children that you can’t come to school, how on earth do we then get attendance up because they have been told that they don’t have to go to school - in fact it is illegal to go to school.

"It is illegal to meet their friends and illegal to have a social life.

"In fact it is illegal to spend two years of your life growing up.

“We have caused massive damage and I absolutely hope and pray that we never do anything like this again.”

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