Lockdown work with families recovering from domestic abuse recognised for top award

A DOMESTIC abuse worker has been nominated for a prestigious award for her “extraordinary” work supporting families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amanda “Panda” Phelan will attend the High Sheriff of Berkshire virtual awards ceremony on the 18th March having been nominated in the Strengthen Your Community category for her work as a senior support worker with the Bounce Back 4 Kids programme run by charity Parents And Children Together (PACT).

Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K) is a recovery programme for children healing from the trauma of domestic abuse which helps them build resilience and nurtures a positive and healthy parent and child attachment.

Before Covid-19, Panda facilitated therapeutic support sessions for children and their non-perpetrating parent but at the start of lockdown, all face-to-face contact with families was paused.

PACT’s head of communities, Kathryn Warner, said: “Many families were re-traumatised by lockdown but Panda worked tirelessly to reach out to families needing support. She delivered wellbeing packs and food parcels to those most in need and ran a series of online support sessions.

“Throughout lockdown Panda produced wellbeing newsletters which continue to be sent directly to all families referred to Bounce Back 4 Kids as well as being shared more widely by schools and other professionals working with vulnerable families. 

“Panda has set up and manages a private Facebook group so that parents can safely provide group support to each other thus reducing isolation. She has also adapted the BB4K programme so it can be delivered remotely, while sending out resources to families so they can engage in the art and play therapy activities at home. She has set up a book loaning library so families can share books that support the messages they are learning through the direct work with Panda.”

Panda’s work was also commended by Thames Valley Police when she was nominated for the John Latham award, an annual award to celebrate and bring awareness to the great work individuals are doing across the Thames Valley area in keeping victims of domestic abuse safe.

Although she didn’t win the award, assistant chief constable Tim de Mayer wrote to say: “Your outstanding work, the innovation and commitment to families during the pandemic was quite extraordinary. Your work is appreciated and recognised by the local community and Thames Valley Police.”

One of the families who Panda supported during lockdown gave this feedback: “A big stone has been taken from my arms.  You have helped my heart. You are the kindest soul no one has ever looked after me like you do.”

Another said: “Panda puts me in a trance when she is talking to me on the Zoom webinars, she is so easy to listen to and makes me feel I am not alone and doing a good job as a Mummy. I could listen to her all day.”

Panda, who has delivered the BB4K programme at PACT since March 2019 said she was incredibly thankful and humbled by the recognition.

She said: “I am extremely passionate about BB4K and am so delighted to have supported so many people throughout these turbulent times.

“The families and children we work with do the incredible hard work. I help hold their hands, virtually of course, give them guidance and much needed self-esteem, encouragement and compassion. 

“The newsletter has also helped me personally throughout lockdown’s woes, and to see that there are positives in all situations and any act of kindness goes a very long way to make someone smile even on the worst of days!”