Covid-19 response to “off-radar” children and young people trapped at home and at risk of violence and abuse

We want to come up with concrete actions to urgently help children and young people currently trapped in abusive homes during Covid-19 home isolation, by gathering the ideas and wisdom of people with lived experience of such abuse, where nobody knew about it at the time.

Not being able to go to school, sports clubs, youth projects and friends’ houses will cut off a lifeline of support for many and being trapped in a home where there is violence and abuse happening will increase risk of harm being done. We do not want to sit back and do nothing. So, as a survivor-led organisation (run by and for survivors of abuse) we want to quickly gather the wisdom of people who know what it is like to be trapped in unsafe homes and “off-radar” to anyone that can help.

If you feel you can help by sharing any of your ideas and thoughts, we need you to complete the questionnaire below by 10pm WEDS 1st APRIL so that we can compile these into a report and suggested URGENT ACTIONS for government agencies, charitable and media organisations. Please only do this if you feel emotionally ok enough to do so and can get some support if it triggers hard feelings for you.

You can skip the next bit by scrolling straight to the short questionnaire at the bottom or you can read the background about who we are and why we are doing this questionnaire.


From Monday 23rd March, the UK government announced “stay at home” rules to deal with Covid-19. Schools are shut except to children of keyworkers and those children who are identified as “vulnerable”.

Government guidance on responses to vulnerable children during Covid-19 identifies only those children who have a social worker and those up to age 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans. There is also some acknowledgment that schools will know other vulnerable children. However, there is much concern being raised both by agencies in the domestic violence & women’s sectors and among survivor communities about children and young people (c&yp) who are “off-radar”, where violence and abuse is being perpetrated against them in the home and this is not known to anyone.  In developing guidance in response to Covid-19, it is of paramount importance to remember the prevalence rates of abuse and the fact that many children and young people do no tell anyone about the abuse (CSEW 2020), due to the dynamics of abuse that include shame, silencing, threats, intimidation, subjugation and coercive control. 

There will be many such c&yp who are not identified or indeed easily identifiable as vulnerable by either the social care system or schools. We, along with many other survivors and professionals, are concerned that this group is currently falling through the cracks of considered responses to Covid-19. Concerns centre around the increased risk of exposure to perpetrators, stresses of home-isolation, the loss of school as a place of safety and of other supportive and emotionally sustaining relationships, with the resultant increased risk of assault, abuse, harm, self-harm and suicide

What are we doing?

We at Survivors’ Voices (a national survivor-led peer organisation), the Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN) a UKRI funded academic network and the McPin Foundation (a lived experience mental health research charity), will collate the nuanced wisdom and expertise of adult survivors who know what it is like to be trapped in an unsafe home unknown to helping agencies. We will write a report that proposes some concrete actions to to government, charities, media organisations, and to the community, that we hope will help ‘off-radar’ children and young people at risk during Covid-19 home isolation. We aim to send this report out by 6th April 2020 so need your views urgently.

The questionnaire

If you are someone who can identify with experiencing violence and abuse at home and no helping agency (school, social worker, youth worker, GP…) knew about it for long periods (or ever) please consider the following questions and share anything you think government agencies (schools, NHS, social services, youth services etc..), charities, media and communities might do to help someone in such a situation.

Taking care of yourself while you do this

Thinking about past experiences of being stuck or trapped in an unsafe home might trigger very hard feelings. Please only go through this short questionnaire if it helps you to do something to help others. And please only do it at a time of day when you feel more emotionally able to do so, with some support or grounding available to you afterwards. (Survivors Voices do run a private peer support group on Facebook, also see our support page for details of other support for survivors, and especially at this time).

This questionnaire is anonymous and answers will be considered and compiled into a report / suggested actions which we will send to a range of government authorities and charitable / media organisations. Please make sure your answers are with us by 10pm Weds 1st April.

The report will be put on this website and a link circulated via twitter and Facebook. Please follow the twitter feeds of the organisations co-ordinating this initiative and help to retweet if you can @voiceofsurvivor @VAMHN @McPinFoundation THANK YOU.

Supporting “off-radar” children and young people at risk of violence and abuse during Covid-19 home isolation