A Deputy Headteacher in Birkenhead has described how a service offered by the Diocese of Chester has transformed the mental health of her students.
Sophie Ellison says that a pilot of an initiative called Here to Listen, which links volunteers from churches to local schools to provide children and young people with a listening ear, has had “the most amazing impact”.
She says: “It really has had the most amazing impact on our students, especially those who are suffering at home. After talking one-to-one with a volunteer they return to the classroom with the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders. It’s just amazing; Here to Listen has been invaluable to us.”
After running a successful pilot of Here to Listen, the Diocese of Chester is now offering the initiative to schools and churches around the diocese. The next session is due to run on 07 July at Foxhill.
Schools and churches are encouraged to sign up for the event which runs from 10am to 3.30pm and Sophie will be there on the day to share her experiences.
Sophie says: “I'm sure many primary practitioners will say we're not just teachers: we're councillors, hairdressers, and dentists - our job is so much more – and as a class teacher with 30 children, it can be quite overwhelming to try and make sure you’re giving each child what they need.
“Our church volunteers, Heather and Mary, have become part of our team and it’s a relief to know that there’s someone there who can dedicate some time to that child, it's just a hugely valuable resource to have. I don’t know what we’d do without them.”
Sophie argues that the legacy of lockdown coupled with a cost-of-living crisis is showing in her children’s ability to manage emotions and develop resilience. But with the help of church volunteers and the Here to Listen initiative, they are making progress.
“If I could tell any school to do it, I would. Here to Listen has really strengthened the relationship between school and church too. Heather and Mary are invaluable. They are just amazing people; we are so lucky to have them.”
Here to Listen runs on 07 July at Foxhill. Sign up as a school or church here.
Here to Listen
At a time when mental health agencies are in great demand, Here to Listen has been developed to support churches serving their schools as they seek to enable children and young people to flourish both physically and mentally.