As you might know, in this series we put the spotlight on the people in Luxembourg whose work or action have become even more important to all of us now, as many of us depend on their services.
We say “Thank you” for being there for us during these challenging times, this time to Barbara, managing director at Kanner-Jugendtelefon.
- Could you briefly explain what you are doing?
I am responsible for Kanner-Jugendtelefon which operates different helplines in Luxembourg. One is for children and adolescents, where they can call when they have problems or when they just want to talk. The parents helpline is for all questions around raising children.
We also offer several other online help services for children, youngsters and parents.
- How has the job changed in the times of the Coronavirus?
There were several changes: We had to entirely reorganise ourselves, both technically and how we communicate with each other internally.
For the protection of our volunteer counsellors and due to technical reasons, our many volunteers cannot help us at the moment and only the core team can work at the helplines, which means a lot more work for us. Only the online help can work under “normal” conditions but they are confronted with an increase of incoming requests.
At the moment, when it became clear that we face a pandemic, we had to prepare ourselves: What is now important to know for our counsellors?
Notwithstanding these changes, the work and the functioning of the helplines is our top priority at the moment!
- Have the reasons of the calls changed?
During the first week, everything was still the same, but now, we notice that more and more people ask Corona-related questions.
- What type of problems do you anticipate people calling about more now?
It can be very stressful for people if they are used to kids being at school or day-care and now these routines are non-existent anymore. It is a big challenge for parents to invent new routines to cope with the new situation.
In addition, some people have existential economical fears, which can lead to even more stress and uncertainty.
- Has domestic violence increased?
It is proven that in times of crisis there is more ground for domestic violence. Naturally, if you are much closer with your family, you have to find new ways of dealing with problems that you used to be able to avoid facing or where, before the crisis, you had found some ways of dealing with.
- Which tips can you give to our readers who are staying at home now?
It is very important to listen if a child or teenager wants to talk to you. It is important to take the time for that.
Try to replace routines and replace them with new routines that fit now.
Don't stay in your pyjama the whole day (you can do that maybe once or so but not more).
Try to create clear, stable structures. Otherwise you can lose stability.
Support your kids using social media at specific times of the day, so that they can be in touch with their friends.
Parents should also reflect on how they deal with the situation themselves. If they are very anxious the kids might pick up this feeling as well and the parents cannot emotionally support their kids anymore.
The feeling of “I don't have a choice and I cannot change anything about this situation,” can bring people into crisis mode.
It is important that people still have the possibility to take decisions for themselves, so try to take as many decisions as still possible.
No one knows how long this crisis may take but the important message is: “The crisis will be over at some point!” The more all of us follow the safety measures in place the sooner it will end.
- Are these times maybe also an opportunity for families or others who live together?
It can be an opportunity to spend more time together and talk to each other, but the situation is quite unique. Where families succeed with putting new routines in place, where kids get exercise and kids can still go outside, there may be some opportunities but in families with pre-existing problems – or where the people don't have a lot of space – the challenges can become even more difficult.
Some people have other challenges to deal with. For example, I was in touch with a woman with a handicapped child who raises her child on her own and who, from one day to the other, doesn't have her support network anymore.
Also, for teenagers the current situation is not very easy since normally they would be with their friends and not so much with their parents, so everyone has to get creative!
Home office can also be more challenging than it might appear, because especially smaller kids don't want their parents to work. They want to interact with them. The child cries, you take the time to take care of your child and then you have to continue working. That can be very exhausting.
Try to keep calm and carry on. This situation will end at some point and maybe you will have even had the chance to learn something new (note of the editor: like with our new “Learn Luxembourgish” series and don't forget, you can call our helplines should you need some support or would like to talk to someone.
For more information visit: www.kjt.lu
Who is your everyday hero? Suggest a person and we will try to feature some of your suggestions: audience(at)rtltoday(dot)lu