CHILDREN who have been missing out on support during the coronavirus pandemic are being offered counselling, therapy and face-to-face help.

The charity Barnardo’s has launched a free, confidential service for young people in Sussex called “See, Hear, Respond”.

The scheme aims to provide a lifeline for young victims of sexual and domestic abuse, criminal exploitation and those who have special educational needs and disabilities or are suffering mental health problems. It will also help young carers and those struggling to reintegrate at school.

Barnardo’s regional director Emma Bowman said: “The coronavirus pandemic has meant that vulnerable children and young people have been ‘hidden’ from vital support services.

“Many have been suffering in silence and are in danger of being left behind if their needs are not met.

“That’s why Barnardo’s is leading a consortium of more than 30 charities to identify and support children at risk of harm.

“But for this to work, we need professionals – and anyone in contact with vulnerable children – to be our eyes and ears and refer those in need of help.

“Children have too often been unseen and unheard during this crisis and they risk becoming the forgotten victims.

“This initiative is a vital lifeline which will help them to navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, improving their long-term prospects so they can enjoy a successful future.”

Barnardo’s is leading a coalition of charities to work alongside local authorities, schools, colleges, police forces and healthcare professionals. The programme is funded by the Department for Education.

For more information visit Helplines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm and at weekends from 10am to 6pm on 0800 157 7015.