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Stamford Welland Academy wins £15,000 grant from Garfield Weston Foundation to fund a counsellor

A school has won a £15,000 grant to fund a counsellor to help pupils suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Staff at Stamford Welland Academy were delighted to find out last week that their bid to the Garfield Weston Foundation for the money had been successful.

It will be used to fund a part-time counsellor for 12 months, as well as to continue training staff to become mental health first aiders, led by student support advisor Sally Skipsey.

Stamford Welland Academy's wellbeing dog Max with student support advisor Sally Skipsey
Stamford Welland Academy's wellbeing dog Max with student support advisor Sally Skipsey

Headteacher Vicky Lloyd said: “Pupils have been affected by the pandemic in different ways and we wanted to do something to support both them and our staff.

“It has been such a weird time for everyone and at the end of the day, we need our children to be in the right mental health space so they can focus on learning.

“To have a constant counsellor in place will make such a big difference and we are incredibly grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation. It will mean we can identify any issues and and help pupils almost immediately.”

At the moment if pupils are struggling, they can be referred for support through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) but this can often take months. The only alternative is for their parents to fund it privately, which Vicky says is not an option for many families.

“We are plugging the gaps,” Vicky said. “Sometimes there’s a three or four month waiting list and for some pupils, they just can’t wait and it’s a really long time when you’re a child.”

As a result of funding cuts, gone are the days when a school counsellor would be paid for by the local authority.

And while the pandemic has added to it, there was an identified need for support before the pandemic.

“Many of our pupils come from RAF Wittering families and have parents abroad. There’s a whole range of different issues, it’s not just covid, and there’s a real gap in supporting children’s mental health.”

And it’s not just children at Stamford Welland Academy who will benefit - the counsellor will also be available to pupils at Bluecoat Primary School.

“We have a really strong pastoral support system with student support advisors but we just need something a little bit more specialised,” said Vicky.

“I think a lot of the pupils will really benefit.”

The counsellor will not be the only new addition to the school team.

Since September, cockapoo Max has been working hard as Stamford Welland Academy’s emotional and wellbeing dog and once the counsellor is in place, pupils will be able to take Max to counselling sessions.

Max has already been a huge hit with pupils and staff alike, and according to Vicky, has a “massive impact”.

Vicky paid tribute to the hard work of support services manager Erica Appleton and chairman of the academy council Catherine Holtzhausen, who led the successful bid.

Recruitment for the new counsellor will start after half-term with Vicky hopeful that they will start their role in September.

There will also be the opportunity to apply again to the foundation, a family founded grant making trust, for money next year to continue the

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