A FAMILY support charity in East Lothian is part of a popular ITV programme’s campaign encouraging struggling parents to ask for help.

Parents in the county will be encouraged to “take off the mask” and talk about the reality of raising children – particularly during the pandemic – with the aid of The Masked Singer, which aired the first episode of its third series on January 1.

Home-Start East Lothian is one of more than 180 Home-Starts across the UK partnering with the prime-time TV show, hosted by Joel Dommett with judges Davina McCall, Rita Ora, Jonathan Ross and Mo Gilligan, to launch its Behind The Mask campaign.

Home-Start UK has been chosen alongside NSPCC and AdoptionUK as a charity partner supported by the popular Saturday night TV show, which involves guessing singers in disguise.

Katy Pollock , manager of Home-Start East Lothian, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be chosen as one of three charity partners with ITV’s The Masked Singer.

“With the support of [show producers] Bandicoot and ITV, Home-Start wants to begin a massive online conversation to encourage families who are struggling, for whatever reason, to come out from behind the mask and ask for help if going through tough times.

“Research shows parents still feel a huge stigma around asking for help, with nearly half of all UK parents admitting they always or often feel ashamed of asking for support, especially when there are mental health concerns.

“Our new campaign encourages parents and caregivers to share some of the day-to-day funny, memorable and challenging things which happen to all of us as part of being a parent – with the hashtag #BehindTheMask.

“Parenting is a tough enough job as it is, but with the added anxiety and stresses of Covid lockdowns, financial pressures, health-related concerns and, for some, bereavements, it has been a really difficult couple of years for families.

“We hope The Masked Singer provides some much-needed light relief but also starts an all-important conversation about seeking help and where to go for help if it is needed. The need is growing, as more families than ever before are finding they need support.”

During The Masked Singer show, produced by Bandicoot Scotland, part of Argonon, Home-Starts across the UK will encourage families to open up about the reality of parenting and also encourage others to check in with a family member, neighbour, work colleague or friend to see how they are doing and if they need help.

Bandicoot managing director Derek McLean and creative director Daniel Nettleton said: “We are delighted to partner with ITV to offer a platform for Home-Start to reach our loyal army of fans.

“We’ve got the licence to be even more bonkers than ever with a new series packed with surprising names and musical mayhem.”

Home-Start UK stands alongside families to offer compassionate, non-judgemental support on a wide range of issues, including postnatal depression, bereavement, coping with twins, loneliness, coping with a child or parent with disabilities, and a range of support with finances.