The new campaign, launched by the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership and Bristol City Council, coincides with the start of Stop Adult Abuse Week (15-19 June) and aims to encourage people to focus attention on each other’s wellbeing and to consider whether friends, family and neighbours could be struggling or at risk as the national lockdown begins to ease.
The partnership, made up of organisations from across Bristol that safeguard vulnerable communities, hopes to highlight the hidden effects of coronavirus (Covid-19), how to spot signs for concern, and remind everyone of the help available and where to find it.
The Are you OK? campaign, led by Bristol City Council on behalf of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, will initially focus on three priority areas: the safeguarding of adult and children, domestic abuse and mental health, and will encourage people to contact support services if they, or someone they know, needs help.
The campaign start date is aligned with the annual Stop Adult Abuse Week campaign where the five safeguarding boards across the Avon and Somerset area come together to highlight the issue of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation. During the week organisations are asking everyone to help prevent adult abuse by looking out for the signs and sharing how to get help if needed. Each day will carry a different theme, ranging from spotting the signs of adult abuse and neglect, financial scams, cuckooing and self-neglect. Information will be shared through organisations in each area, on social media and the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website.
Ivan Powell, Chair of the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership, said: “We all need to make sure that, with lockdown gradually easing and people leaving home more often, the most vulnerable in our society are not forgotten. We’ve seen many acts of kindness during the pandemic, and I hope this spirit of togetherness and looking out for one another will continue as restrictions lift further, so that we can recognise when something isn’t right and seek the help that is available.”
Councillor Asher Craig, Bristol City Council Cabinet Lead for Communities, said: “It’s more important than ever to check in with friends, family and neighbours. I hope this campaign reminds people that we are here to help anyone who is struggling, and that support is available to tackle the hidden effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
The coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on the physical and mental health of many of Bristol’s most vulnerable people. Lockdown restrictions have meant that many of those most at risk, such as people experiencing domestic or child abuse, may be missing out on receiving help, or do not know where to seek it.
Referrals to support services reflect this concern. Bristol’s child and families services initially saw a reduction in referrals by a third when Covid-19 measures were introduced. Bristol has also seen a reduction in contact to its Safeguarding Adults Team for adults at risk with care and support needs. Both statistics follow the national pattern.
The Partnership will also work with partners to expand mental health services ready for an expected increase in demand, as the mental and emotional impacts of isolation, bereavement, loss of income and dramatic changes of routine are felt.
The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website has information available for anyone looking to check in with their loved ones or needing to find help: bristolsafeguarding.org/areyouok. The police should be called if anyone is in immediate danger.
For more information about Stop Adult Abuse Week, visit the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website: bristolsafeguarding.org/news/stop-adult-abuse-week