For the first time since we established our organisation in August 2014, we are now finally in a place to be able to recruit and support volunteers in a structured and systematic way.
From January 2020, we will be offering a recruitment and training pathway in the three following areas.
A further description of all three areas, as well as an application form, can be found below:
The idea behind this project is to recruit volunteers to run enrichment projects in some local schools to provide children and young people with novel and enriched experiences. Ideally, these sessions would run over a half term, or a full term, and would ideally take place at lunchtime or after school. Environmental enrichment (EE) has been shown to have a very beneficial effect on mental health, including in at least two studies, reversing the effects of trauma. EE is the growth of synaptic connections in the brain through accessing, and engaging with, an enriched environment. In our whole-school work where we talk to children and young people and get their views about how their mental health could be improved, the consistent message, from Reception to Year 6, and regardless of the backgrounds of the children, surrounds the importance of EE. We therefore intend to listen to the voices of these children (we have now met with over 600 children through doing this work) and develop this project as far and wide as we can.
We are therefore interested in hearing from anyone who feels that they might have a club, or a session, to offer to children and young people in a school. This could be, for example:
* Engineering - "taking something apart and putting it back together again"
However, it could also be something play based like:
* A Lego club
* A playground club
* A ball-in-the-cup club
* Anything else your imagination can dream up - we are interested in hearing about any and all ideas, as long as they are in tune with our values and aims as an organisation, and you are proposing something which children and young people can engage with, please do get in touch and we'll try to help get your idea off the ground. Children and young people themselves have identified that using their imaginations to create new games is beneficial to mental health and a good coping strategy.
We are living in an incredible County, full of incredible people who will have a lot to offer the children and young people based on the above (and other) ideas and we look forward to hearing from you soon...
Inner-Me --- Outer-Me:
We are also looking to recruit volunteers to undertake some work in schools around another core theme children and young people have consistently identified as important to them and their mental health, namely feeling understood by the adults around them and the reasons why they might respond and react as they do to the events which occur around them.
This work covers four particular areas, though there is room for development of others. These areas are:
* The Inner-Me --- Outer-Me Intervention. A brief therapeutic intervention to increase empathy and understanding on behalf of a child or young person who may be struggling for various reasons.
* Wellbeing PHSE Basics. Delivering a few sessions, within the PHSE curriculum in schools, on some core themes with a particular focus on the emotions, discussing strategies and exploring principles of enrichment and attachments.
* SATS. Delivering sessions in SATS week supporting children and offering a playful and creative space following the exams to help them to cope with the stresses involved and provide a positive outlet.
* 'Happy Minds Plans' - this involves delivering a session, or a lesson, across a whole primary school (from Reception to Year 6) on what mental health means and eliciting the voices of the children about what they think can help to build, and sustain, a 'happy mind'.
Equality Work with Children and Families:
We are increasingly living in a society where the lives of families are defined by financial pressures. Mental health is typically labelled as a 'disorder' of an individual personality, however such a model overlooks the negative role structural factors, particularly money, play in the creation of emotional distress. It is unjust that disadvantaged families are disproportionately affected by these issues.
Therefore, we are increasingly developing an 'ecological' way of working which looks to increase freedom and opportunity in the lives of children and families by working alongside them to identify and redress stressful factors and promote choice and possibility.
Volunteers in this area of work will work alongside families to reduce stress in their lives through a variety of interventions, including (for example - this list is not exhaustive):
* Grant applications
* Form filling
* Benefit searches
* Writing letters
* Liaison with other agencies, including supporting with appointments
* Attending PIP tribunals to support clients