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Free service launched to help Crawley children transition back to school after lockdown

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Going back to school after the summer break can often be an anxious time for children and young people. However, this September, most young people will have been off school for around six months, so the transition back into the classroom is likely to be far more difficult.

On top of the lack of formal education, they have had a long period of separation from friends, been exposed to the general anxiety around Covid-19 and may have experienced loss.

e-wellbeing is a new service, launched by YMCA DownsLink Group and Sussex Partnership NHS Trust during lockdown, which provides advice and support for young people struggling with their wellbeing or mental health. e-wellbeing has launched a ‘Back to School’ page, aimed at teachers, pupils or parents/carers, filled with practical resources, videos and downloadable assets in order to support everyone through this difficult transition period.

Bespoke resources for schools have been created by the digital therapy team within YMCA Dialogue – a BACP accredited counselling service which provides therapists to over 53 schools across Sussex and Surrey.  Additional content from leading mental health experts also feature on the page.

Dr Celia Lesquerre, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Clinical Development at YMCA DownsLink Group explains how lockdown has impacted the wellbeing of children and families:

“Lockdown will have impacted on all children and families, but the impact will vary sometimes considerably from one child or family to another. Unfortunately, we are now learning that at least a third of children and young people are reporting an increase in difficulties, particularly regarding their mental health and wellbeing issues.  In a YouGov poll, and research carried out by Barnardo’s, they have found that children are feeling lonelier (41%), more worried (38%), sadder (37%) and more stressed (34%).”

Celia continues, explaining why Covid-19 and the long break from education may affect many young people this year:

“Most children anticipate transitions in positive terms and successfully navigate them, though this won’t be the case for everyone. Children and young people are likely to have mixed emotions about returning to school. For some children, the absence or reduction of social contact during lockdown may leave them feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated to begin with. They may have lost confidence in their social skills and feel worried about friendships having moved on.

Others could be worrying about the academic element of school and worry that they have fallen behind in their learning. Depending on how they have been spending their time, they may also find the adjustment back into a school routine that much harder, having been off for such a long time.”

Some of the practical advice and downloadable resources on the e-wellbeing Back to School page include a ‘Back to School Checklist’ and activities to ‘Challenge Anxious Thoughts’. The page also includes videos of other young people talking about their own experiences, sharing strategies that have helped them to get through difficult situations and deal with challenging emotions. Crucially, if necessary, e-wellbeing also signposts services for young people in acute need of mental health support.  

Nicola Harvey, Digital Development Lead at YMCA Downslink Group commented on the launch of the new school page:

“As we transition out of lockdown, the e-wellbeing platform continues to help young people explore their mental health needs at this vital time. We are delighted to be broadening our remit to enable teachers, pupils and parents/carers to support young people’s mental health all year round.”

For more information or to access the free resources, visit https://e-wellbeing.co.uk/schools.

Community

New £100k pedestrian crossing for families’ taking children to school installed in West Green

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West Green Primary School Business Manager Annette pictured trying the new crossing with her daughter before the school reopened.

A new pedestrian crossings has been installed in the past few months and is now operational, helping families with the walk to a school in West Green.

The crossing in Crawley cost £100,00 and is aimed to improve safety for families with school-age children – plus pedestrians generally.

With schools reopening and roads becoming busier after lockdown, people are being encouraged to leave their cars at home and consider other travel choices.

Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said:

“The new crossings provide a safer route to schools for families and to other local amenities for pedestrians generally.

“People are being encouraged to consider walking or cycling for their journeys, if they can. It’s a great way to get fit, save fuel money and reduce the number of cars on the road. This in turn will improve air quality and reduce congestion.”

West Green Primary School requested the Puffin crossing for West Green Drive and worked with the county council’s transport improvements team to build the case for road safety improvements.

Other enhancements had already been introduced, including ‘School Keep Clear’ markings, to provide pupils and parents with a safer environment.

Throughout this process, West Green continued to provide pupils with road safety education and encourage sustainable travel.

West Green Primary School Business Manager Annette Tomsett said:

“The school is delighted to have worked closely with West Sussex County Council in bringing to fruition this crossing. It will make a huge difference in the safe route to school for our pupils and families, alongside having a positive impact for the whole community for now and for the future.”

The improvements cost a total of about £100,000.

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