Essex Freemasons helping to improve mental health in Harlow

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Children’s mental health charity Place2Be has launched additional support for both children and parents at six schools in Harlow, thanks to a £25,000 grant from Essex Freemasons, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Parents across six schools in Harlow will now have access to a dedicated Place2Be Family Practitioner, who will be on hand to support with any concerns they have about their child’s behaviour or wellbeing.

The Family Practitioner will work alongside parents to support and strengthen their confidence and parenting skills. This, in turn will reap benefits for the mental health and wellbeing of the children.

This builds on the existing work of Place2Be, which already delivers mental health support to children and young people in schools facing a whole range of issues, including anxiety, stress, low mood, bereavement and even self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Place2Be has been working with schools in Harlow for many years, providing permanent staff to work with teaching professionals to provide support and counselling for young people. The service continued during Covid via online Zoom and phone sessions and was said to be “a lifeline by many parents” during lockdown.

It’s also a service which has been welcomed by Harlow schools. James Hollinsley, Executive Head of Longwood Primary Academy in Paringdon Road, explained: “In 2015, this was a failing school with large number of children with additional wellbeing needs. Four years later we were described as the happiest primary school in the UK.”

“While our team made considerable changes to improve and turn around the school, I cannot underestimate the support we have received from Place2Be who have helped to change the lives of many children with mental health issues. The service is a fundamental part of all of our NET Academies schools.”

Kate Armstrong-Taylor, Area Manager for Place2Be added: “Based on our experience of working with schools in Essex and across the UK, we understand the vital role that parents and carers play in building their children’s resilience. With the support of the Family Practitioner, parents can improve their own confidence and strengthen family relationships, all of which will ultimately have a positive impact on their children’s wellbeing. This grant from Essex Freemasons will enable us to continue to develop our work in Harlow, supporting even more families through the work of the Family Practitioner.”

“This is very much a community project helping vulnerable children and parents,” said Paul Tarrant, Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons. “With 8,000 members, many of whom live and work in the Harlow area, we are very much part of that same community which is why we have been delighted to help such a fantastic charity.”