Last month, members of the Our Time team were in Plymouth with colleagues from Germany, as part of a study tour, visiting Stoke Damerel Community College and the Plymouth Excellence Cluster, which pioneered the first ever KidsTime hub in the country. The Plymouth model, which is made up of Our Time’s two flagship projects – a KidsTime Workshop, and ‘Who Cares?’ programme well-embedded within the college curriculum – has become a best practice model.
Key highlights from the trip included seeing pupils at the college celebrating World Mental Health Day, by posting encouraging comments for each other on a ‘thought tree’, and promoting their peer-mentoring scheme. College Principal Anita Frier explained the strong culture and ethos of supporting mental health at the school, and the package of support available to pupils and teachers, which includes mental health awareness assemblies, tutorials, a young carers club, and staff training. We also heard from young people, including young carers, about their experiences of ‘Who Cares?’, and how their attitudes and perceptions about mental illness had changed as a result of the programme. In the afternoon, Our Time founder, Dr Alan Cooklin, facilitated a session with staff and pupils about suicide, which stimulated a lively and thought-provoking discussion about an issue that has affected staff and pupils at the school.
KidsTime colleagues from Germany said they came away with lots of helpful insights and appreciated the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas. We thank Lisa Hartley, Anita Frier, their colleagues and the young people in attendance for an inspiring couple of days.