This paper outlines the findings of primary insight work undertaken to understand the impact of the COVID19 pandemic and resulting lockdown on the emotional health and wellbeing of young people in Medway. It outlines the actions taken and planned in response to the findings of the insight work. It also identifies how schools have responded to the pandemic and endeavored to remain open.
Officers introduced the report which set out the findings of an assessment into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting initial lockdown on the emotional health and wellbeing of young people in Medway.
Members then raised a number of questions and comments which included:
· Access to support – concern was raised that 11% of respondents said they were not getting support and 30% did not know who to contact if they needed support. Officers shared this concern and explained that much work was being done across the wider Emotional Wellbeing offer to address this issue, which included providing resources and training to schools.
· Impact on schools – some Members shared their own experiences and concerns relating to the uncertainty in the latter part of school term 2 and the impact of children and school staff having to isolate. Officers acknowledged the difficulties experienced by children, families and schools but explained they had worked within the parameters of clear Government policy and had worked hard with schools to make them as safe as possible. There had been very regular liaison with all schools, the Regional Schools Commissioner and national guidance was tailored into local guidance for Medway schools.
· Online learning – concern was raised that a number of children either had no access to devices or were using mobile phones to access online learning. Officers explained that a number of devices had been provided, and although initially these had been without dongles to access the internet, this had since been included and efforts to support children in these situations was ongoing.
· Bereavement support – officers confirmed that support was already provided through the Education Psychology Team and through a number of charities within Kent and Medway. However, this was being enhanced by a new service that was currently being commissioned and the inclusion of low level bereavement support through the School Nursing Service.
· Hungry families - concern was raised that 2% of respondents said they had often gone hungry and officers concurred with this concern. It was explained that the free school meals offer had been rolled out and the winter support grant had been used to support children over the period of school closures and to support families not eligible for free school meals, through the Early help Child and Family Hubs. Additionally the Local Authority had worked in collaboration with local food banks and a number of charities to support vulnerable families.
Updated survey –
in response to a question whether another survey would be conducted
given much had changed since May 2020, officers confirmed this
would be explored and welcomed the opportunity to work
collaboratively with Medway Youth Council in formulating that
· Distribution of information flyer – in response to a question about how a flyer, providing information about where to ask for support, would be distributed, officers confirmed that a number of avenues were being explored, such as promotion through social media, as well as through schools and other more traditional routes and there was an intention to use young people groups as much as possible.
· Attendance – in terms of how schools were recording attendance, it was confirmed that Headteachers formally met remotely every six weeks, and were in contact on a weekly basis. Schools were sharing resources and ideas in order to be consistent in how they logged attendance and supported students and families.
The Committee noted the report and recommended officers to report back with a further update in 12 months.
In accordance with Council rule 12.6, Councillors Cooper, Johnson and Chrissy Stamp requested that their votes in favour be recorded.