A MUM whose young son has thyroid cancer and a rare hormone disorder says families caring for terminally ill children are facing massive pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tara Watkin is trying to protect seriously ill Asher, aged three, during the pandemic while also looking after her two daughters at home in Silver End.

Tara, 45, recently made the difficult decision to pull seven-year-old daughter Tallulah out of school while there is still the risk of her contracting coronavirus.

She claims she had no choice but to de-register her to avoid being charged weekly non-attendance fines because the school was unable to provide home learning for Tallulah.

It also means younger daughter Esme, aged four, whose school start was delayed by a year, has also lost her place for September 2021.

Tara is now backing a new report by the Rainbow Trust children’s charity highlighting how Covid-19 is causing huge new emotional and practical pressures on families already facing high degrees of stress and anxiety over the health of their children.

“It’s been really, really tough," she said.

"Our safety net has gone. Caring for Asher rests solely on our shoulders.

"We have to risk assess everything we do. We’ve taken the decision, looking at the facts and figures, to carry on doing what we’re doing and home schooling the children.

"In my mind it’s absolutely crazy that people are returning to normal. We are safe in our bubble – we feel protected where we are.”  

The family do have support from Rainbow Trust family support worker Carly Borg, who makes video calls to chat to Tallulah and Esme and provide fun activities as well as visiting them from a safe distance in the garden to give them something to look forward to.

Carly also drove Tara and Asher to a hospital appointment to make the trip less stressful.

The Rainbow Trust says parents of seriously ill children, like Tara, are having to rely on charities to provide urgent support during the pandemic.

The charity is calling on health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to urgently address the "long-standing gap" in funding for vital support for families at a a time when they need it more than ever.

A survey of families it was supporting at the start of the lockdown revealed just under 80 per cent of respondents said their family situation had deteriorated.

Nearly 60 per cent said their mental health was "worse" or "much worse" than before the pandemic.

Chief executive Zillah Bingley said: “The pandemic continues to be a lonely and distressing experience for many families supported by the Rainbow Trust who are caring for a life-threatened child.

"It is vital that the experiences of these families are heard by decision-makers which our report aims to do, so that they can help shape and improve the services required during this challenging, exhausting and frightening time.”

The Rainbow Trust report says restrictions on hospital visiting and loss of support has been particularly difficult for families where a baby or child has an acutely life-threatening condition.

It also highlights how parents and siblings bereaved during the pandemic have not been able to grieve in the way they would have wanted.

To read the full report visit rainbowtrust.org.uk/PandemicPressures.