A £5million fund to help educational settings support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people has been launched today.
Education Minister Peter Weir set out details of the funding during a visit to St Columbanus College in Bangor.
The Minister said: “There have been numerous studies carried out across the UK about the negative impact of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“My priority has always been to ensure children return to school to continue their learning. I fully recognise that any return must be done safely and with as much support as possible to help Principals, staff and young people.
“Wellbeing was identified as one of the key areas of the Education Restart Programme. A project was established to ensure educational settings have the information, resources and support they need to help them provide a culture of positive emotional health and wellbeing for children and young people.”
Guidance will be provided to educational settings as to how best they might use the funding.
Concluding the Minister said: “This is a significant investment which I know will be of benefit to pupils and staff alike. It can be used to provide emotional support, nurture, sporting and fun activities and after school clubs for young people. For staff, the funding can be used to support mindfulness, stress busting and other activities. In addition, educational settings will be able to work with other organisations or improve their physical environments.
“Children and young people have missed so much this year already, it is essential that they, and indeed our staff, are supported and helped in the challenging months ahead.”
Notes to editors:
1. In June 2020 Barnardo’s surveyed their local partner schools in an attempt to understand the challenges they would be facing and the help schools felt they would need to support the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils. All respondents confirmed they would welcome additional help to support their pupils with 80% indicating a need for increased funding to address this need.
2. The £5m funding which has been secured to help schools address the new pressures arising as a result of Covid-19 will be provided directly to all schools (nursery, primary, post primary, special) and EOTAS. For youth settings a lump sum of £250k will be administered by EA Youth Service.
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