‘Who Cares?’ Newham HeadStart – a reflection

As part of the HeadStart Newham team, I was so excited to be embarking on the ‘Who Cares’ training with Our Time. We knew that the work Our Time fitted perfectly with our resilience approach, which we had spent the last 2 years sharing with schools in Newham. We had schools signed up ready to go, and low and behold, COVID-19 struck, and all plans went out of the window.

So we took a deep breath and thought what shall we do? As the first few weeks of lockdown went by it became clear that this work was now more important than ever, as young people were now at home, full-time, with parents who may be struggling with their mental health, and as a result, Who Cares? went online.

In the last few months, we have brought 15 different schools together to complete the awareness-raising session as a starting point in their work through the ‘Who Cares?’ programme. We have also delivered an assembly focussed on Kindness for Mental Health week, to local school Sarah Bonnell in Stratford. Over 50 young people engaged brilliantly with the assembly and when asked what they would do to support a young person who was
struggling because their Mum had a mental health illness, they had wonderful thoughts such as:

  • “I would ask him if he wanted to talk about it and if he didn’t I would just make him happy.”
  • “I would have stood up for him against the bullies.”
  • “I would ask if he needs anything and I would try to get it for him.”
  • “I would listen to his problems and assure him there are people who care for him.”

What caring and thoughtful young people!

Kaizen Primary also had our Staff training on how to have those important conversations with young people living with parents with a mental illness and how best to support them, which just goes to show that it takes more than a global pandemic to stop us!