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Ellie is lost to neglect. She has black hair and dark brown eyes. She spends most of her days sitting in a buggy that she grew out of years ago. Ellie’s mum is desperate to find a job and move out of their cold, damp third floor flat but she is struggling to manage.
Ellie’s development is far behind other children her age. She struggles with some of the most basic skills: holding a pencil with her thumb and fingers; stacking building blocks; buttoning her cardigan. While most five year olds ask a never ending stream of questions, Ellie lacks interest and refuses to engage with anyone. She doesn’t seem to know how to play, or interact with other people. She can’t walk properly. She simply keeps her head buried in to the side of her buggy every time someone tries to make eye contact with her.
The reason Ellie can’t walk properly is because she hasn’t been given the chance to walk, to run, to explore. Her mum keeps her strapped to her buggy because she thinks it keeps her safe. As a result her leg muscles and her motor skills simply haven’t been allowed to develop, and that in turn has affected every other stage of her development.
Her mum is terrified that her daughter will be taken from her if she asks for help. Despite all the evidence to the contrary this is a woman who loves and desperately wants the best for her daughter. She just doesn’t know where to start. Her own childhood had been so blighted by horrific abuse and neglect that she simply doesn’t know how to be a parent herself. It’s not that Ellie is being wilfully abused but the neglect is a symptom of her mother’s own lost childhood.
The real danger is that without help now the impact of neglect will blight Ellie’s childhood too and the cycle won’t be broken.
In 2016 there were 47,399 child welfare and protection referrals to Tusla - The Child and Family Agency. No child should feel unloved or uncared for. Every child should be protected and be able to get help when they need it. All parents should be supported to be the best they can be.
Through working with Barnardos, Ellie will have a safe space to play, to learn and develop. In our playground her little legs will begin to work properly as she climbs the steps to the slide. In our Friendship Group we’ll teach her the skills needed to make friends. The hot nutritious meal she’ll receive every day will help her grow up strong and healthy. Her mum will receive intensive emotional and practical support through our parenting work. She will learn what it really means to make a child feel safe, secure, and loved. Together we can end the cycle of poverty and neglect that has blighted their lives.
You can help us continue to support children lost to homelessness, poverty & neglect by making a donation today. No child should be lost.