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Changing Lives’ friendship skills series a success

Published on: February 21, 2023

Compass Changing Lives’ Bemrose locality team has completed a five week Friendship workshop series with year 6 students at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, as part of its whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing in schools.

The workshops introduced the service and the mental health support it provides. They also covered emotional literacy, healthy relationships, coping strategies, and managing difficulties and conflict in friendships.

Christina Wilford, Supervising Practitioner at Compass Changing Lives, who helped to deliver the workshops said: “The year 6s engaged really well in the sessions, creating coping strategy fortune tellers, looking at examples of difficult friendship dilemmas and problem solving these as a team. 

“They were also set wellbeing challenges in between sessions such as using the 5 ways to wellbeing and using their personal coping strategies outside of sessions.” 

The Bemrose locality team who delivered the workshops included Yasmin Sharp – Trainee Supervising Practitioner, Catherine Endsor and Casey Barker, both Education Mental Health Practitioners, as well as Christina.

Sue Berry, Assistant Director for Compass Changing lives commented: “The WSA is a vital role for MHSTs in Schools as it is about upskilling everyone in school on wellbeing. This means that the benefits of our service reach everyone and contribute towards preventing potential difficulties around emotional wellbeing.”

The sessions had a big focus on young people valuing each other and showing respect for each other’s needs and feelings. We also looked at being solution focused, helping young people find practical strategies and problem solving skills they could put into action immediately. 

Sue continued: “The sessions aim to encourage positive wellbeing in young people and educate them on friendship skills in order to reduce the potential negative impacts that friendship difficulties can have on mental wellbeing. This, in turn, aims to reduce the need for more intensive support later on for young people.”

Christina said: “It was wonderful to see how engaged the children were in taking part in the sessions.

“We had some great conversations around how to handle difficulties in friendships and possible barriers to putting these strategies in place in day-to-day life. It was also lovely to see how excited the young people were each time we returned to do another session.”

Both Year Six teachers said how valuable the workshops were for the children and young people: “The workshops were so good. It’s so important that they do activities like this as they never usually get a chance to talk about emotions”. 

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