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Hope GB Autism Charity response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Actions and outcomes

Lives changed overnight when Wales went into Lockdown in March 2020. The Torfaen Autism Stakeholder Team were particularly concerned about the impact lockdown may have on children and young people.


We were contacted by parents/carers and grandparents who were concerned about how they would explain the virus to their children. They were also worried about how they would explain to children and young people that they could not do their usual activities, such as spending time with loved ones, visiting play areas, travelling further than 5 miles from home, or going to school or the shops. There were also concerns about how they would fill the time in their day without these activities.


We held a consultation via social media with families to find out how we could best support them. We suggested the possibility of providing Sensory Activity Packs, with the option of including a game, arts and crafts materials, or a time capsule/memory box. The idea behind the pack was to offer some activities that young people could introduce into their new daily routine. In addition, the activities provided were mainly sensory activities, so they would hopefully help to reduce anxiety in young people and their family members.


Families responded to the social media consultation and were very keen to receive a pack. Initially we made 50 available via social media and they were all requested within two hours. To date, we have provided 130 packs.


Outcomes were initially measured via a feedback form, and lots of families also took to social media with comments and photos of their children attempting activities.


Comment from a Sensory Pack Recipient (parent/carer):


“Thank you so much! I’m sure there are many people feeling like I am, some may be bottling it all up too. Lockdown is tough, even when we know we have to do it. It’s even tougher when you have little ones who don’t understand, who rely on routine so much… that one little change can turn their whole world upside down. There’s nothing worse than watching your child crumble. Children who are unable to tell you what’s wrong or what they want or what they even understand is happening. Today I cried, multiple times, I’ve come straight off a 12 hour night shift to jump straight back into my Mum role! Days like these are tough but even worse when you have extreme meltdowns. Thank you so much Hope GB, I cried when I received the call to say that the parcel had been left on our doorstep. The last 40 minutes have completely changed the mood of this house. We’ve cried, laughed, smiled and peace has been restored. Thank you.”

Lessons Learned

As the autism charity for Torfaen, Hope GB have always placed a high value on listening to autistic children, young people and adults, their parents/carers, and families. During lockdown, the charity’s service expanded as we listened to and supported families who had never previously contacted us. We have also partnered with several new third sector organisations. This has helped us to understand that the needs of autistic people and the people who care for them are varied and each may require bespoke support.


Lockdown has also highlighted the additional challenges single parent families face. We heard many reports regarding struggles to purchase groceries with single parents experiencing negativity and criticism for taking their child to food shops, even though they are unable to leave them on their own.


Some autistic people can be literal in their understanding. Families have commented that their children have taken the “stay home, stay safe” message literally and don’t want to leave their homes at all, even to step into their garden.


To support autistic young people and their families, we are adapting our youth club service to include an outreach service so that we can support an additional 25 young people in the community to build their confidence to return to a “new normal”. This development is supported by additional funding received by the team.


Health Board:
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board
Local Authority:
Integrated Autism Service:
Gwent IAS