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Devon and Cornwall PCC provides funding for teacher helpline

A helpline funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall has been launched for teachers concerned about the welfare of a vulnerable child during the lockdown because of domestic abuse.

Whilst the majority of schools have been closed due to the outbreak, hubs remain open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children who have been identified by the local authorities and head teachers.

More than 25 organisations who support domestic abuse victims have reported a rise in reports since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The PCC for Devon and Cornwall, Alison Hernandez, has helped launch a helpline run by the charity Operation Encompass so that teachers can support children in need. 

The charity exists to ensure schools are aware of police reports of domestic violence in a pupil’s household and that the staff have the right knowledge of how to support them.

They will provide specialist support to teachers through the helpline on an anonymous and confidential basis. A child and educational psychologist and a clinical psychologist are available to offer advice.

PCC Hernandez, said: “Ensuring that vulnerable children remain protected during Covid-19 is a top priority for the Government and is more important than ever in this crisis. This helpline is a vital way to support teachers who may want to discuss concerns about a child’s welfare with trained psychologists and therapists who can help.

“Sadly, it is likely that incidents of domestic abuse will rise in the weeks and months ahead, so it is a concern that schools are now shut as for many children it is their safe place. Therefore, the schools are important, not only for the children of key workers but also for these vulnerable children. Teachers have a vital role to play in ensuring that vulnerable children are safeguarded and protected during this uncertain time”.

Dave Carney-Haworth, former police sergeant and founder of Operation Encompass, said: “The teacher’s helpline demonstrates our commitment to supporting children who are victims of domestic abuse, especially at this time. We believe that the confidence gained by obtaining advice through the helpline will enable teachers to ensure that these children are given the support and nurture that they need at a time when they need it the most. 

“We are also encouraging head teachers to consider offering places to these children in school through the vulnerable groups that they are able to take in. We applaud Alison Hernandez, the PCC, for seeing the value of this helpline and fully funding this initiate. 

“Devon and Cornwall Police have shown true commitment to Operation Encompass and therefore children experiencing domestic abuse and, whilst delivering the calls may be trickier than normal, we support them in their determination to serve the victims in our community.”

The helpline will operate from 8.30am to 10am, Monday to Friday. It will be open until the end of the summer term or until school returns to normality - whichever is the latest.

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