Cocoon Kids 

Cocoon Kids CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company which provides Creative Counselling and Play Therapy for children and young people aged 3-19 years old, as well as family, infant and sibling support across Greater London. Today our Head of Communications, Luke Upton speaks to Helene Griffin, a Director at Cocoon Kids and a Creative Counsellor and Play Therapist about their work.

Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, please give us a little introduction to Cocoon Kids.

Helene Griffin (HG): My pleasure Luke, we're a lived-experience, grass-roots not-for-profit children and young people's therapeutic service, which children and young people use to safely explore their experiences. Our main community are disadvantaged families in social housing, which is the the same as myself and the other Directors' families.We started at the height of the pandemic through an Entrepreneurs programme and subsequent award with my own social housing. This was both affirming and hard-work at the same time! Our fully-funded sessions are something that I've personally wanted to create since I was a teen myself, because of my childhood and family experiences - but also because I regularly can see that it's still important.

LU: And Covid-19 brought its own specific challenges?

HG: Very much so. The pandemic itself was an isolating time for many people, and technology was an amazing connector throughout this. Many of our families are sharing difficulties around not having data because they're cutting back internet costs and moving to phones now, because of rising costs. We're anticipating that Digital Poverty is going to be felt even more keenly locally, which is likely to be especially challenging again for many of our families and others, if there are future Covid-19 lockdowns.

LU: Even with the pandemic largely behind us, there are still major issues?

HG: Yes, the war in Ukraine, Global Warming and in particular the cost-of-living crisis is already having a big impact both financially and mentally on many people but especially families that are already disadvantaged. It's hard for families to avoid it as it's in the news, on the internet and talked about in playgrounds. These crises are extremely scary for many children and young people and it’s having a massive impact on day-to-day emotional wellbeing, and this is obviously in addition to whatever else they may already be bringing into their sessions to explore together. Then with our increasing bills, last Winter and Spring, families shared their stories about rising heating costs, and their homes and bedrooms being ice cold. So much so that we've signposted to extra support and made sure that the rooms we've worked in are warmer to help to alleviate this. I can only hope that this upcoming Winter is mild.

LU: Those are some big challenges, and sadly likely to only get bigger. Tell us some more about the support that you’ve received?  

HG: We can't always share stories too loudly without them being fully anonymised, because our sessions are confidential. But your Magic Little Grants award was the first award that we got and it felt amazing that your organisation and users trusted us and believed in us enough to donate. It's one thing starting a project and having people grow to know you but I don't think I'll be ever be able to forget how elated I was when we got your award! We were all blown away, as not only did we put it to immediate great use, but we'd just had a 'no' from a funder, and so many people had said that once we were awarded one then it would open doors.

And, wonderfully, it really has! Both for our CIC through additional funding, as it helped others to also see that we were doing what we said we'd do. We’ve also received support from you via the People’s Postcode Lottery. But far more importantly for the children, young people and families that are the heart of why we started. To date we've been able to offer nearly 400 1:1 sessions, as well as regular and ongoing parent and carers support through zoom, calls and emails. Children, young people and families and school referrers have also shared excellent feedback and outcomes, which we're delighted about, of course.  We're not long going into our second year and have recently had our second award from you. Again we're delighted, as yours was the first report we had to do and it's also the first second-time again award that we've received! Thank you so much, we really appreciate it and we'll make sure that we put it to extremely good use again.

LU: That’s great to hear that this support has been used so well.

HG: Yes, it really has. Our children and families lives in areas of high deprivation and have already had to bear the brunt of the challenges that have hit us all in recent years. But I want to add that our families are truly amazing, and incredibly resourceful. As an organisation we have so much respect for each family and are proud to help support them all.

LU: Thanks very much for the time, keep up the great work!

Learn more about Cocoon Kids by clicking here.