Back to school: supporting children & teenagers out of lockdown

As children and teenagers prepare to go back to school in September, fears have long been emerging about the impact of lockdown on their mental health and well-being.

How will a generation of children and young people, who have spent the last 5 months home-schooling and social distancing, cope when thrust back into an educational institution that will now be enforcing procedures that simply weren’t in place before?

School is going to look so different for them.

The one-way systems, the social bubbles, the staggered break times, being taught in the same classroom all day, not to mention catching up on weeks and weeks of missed curriculum. Children starting school for the first time will do so without any induction period. New Year 7s will turn up at secondary schools they’ve possibly never visited before. School-leavers starting new colleges and universities will also be doing so in extremely strange circumstances, with online lectures and e-learning replacing many of the usual further and higher educational experiences.

September promises, for many in the Next Generation, to be a daunting prospect and kids and youth workers across the region have been busy preparing for the support they will undoubtedly need to offer to the children and young people they know.

To help them make these preparations, LBC Next Gen have been working hard throughout lockdown to provide training opportunities for kids and youth workers wishing to upskill and get ready to support the next generation in the coming months.

In May, we partnered with Halesowen’s Phase Trust to host two Mental Health virtual training sessions. Both sessions were completely fully booked with 40 Black Country kids and youth workers taking part. The sessions explored both the theory behind mental health, as well as offering practical help. Participants were given a number of resources to help children and teenagers discuss their worries as well as signposts to qualified experts who can help further if needed. We’re so grateful to the Phase Trust team for providing this training free of charge and know so many people will be impacted as a result of it.

In July, we were able to partner with Reality Trust, who delivered a virtual Bereavement Training Session. This training gave a general background to loss and some advice about how children and youth workers can support children and young people going through situations of loss, including relationships/divorce and death, particularly as a result of Covid-19. Again, we’re really thankful for Matt Brown from Reality Trust who offered this training free of charge.

As we emerge from lockdown, facing an uncertain future, it’s never been more paramount for the church to be equipped to support, uphold and wrap our arms around the next generation, many of whom will be carrying the invisible scars of this pandemic for a long time to come.

We value highly the partnerships and collaborations happening between Next Generation workers across the Black Country and we trust that God will use these relationships and the knowledge, support and expertise within them, to truly see the next generation impacted for the Kingdom over the next decade and beyond.

Are you a children’s or youth worker? We’d love to connect you to your local Next Gen Borough Hub so that you can get to know and build relationships with others like you in your borough. Please email Deb@loveblackcountry.org.uk for more information.

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