“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.” Desmond Tutu (1984), South African Anglican cleric and theologian
The Workforce Wellbeing Group
The Workforce Wellbeing Group was created to ensure that the wellbeing of the Trust workforce has emphasis placed upon it and is at the forefront of everything we do. However, in establishing the group, we had not taken account of the fact we would be entering a world pandemic which would place the greatest strain we have probably ever known upon our workforce. Whilst this has not scuppered our aspiration, in truth, it has hindered some planning and progress.
The intended aim is to continually promote the importance of positive mental health in order that we can achieve the best possible outcomes for our Trust community. We want staff to know that the Trust values wellbeing above all else and to know that how they are feeling matters. A positive workforce increases productivity and efficiency and, put simply, makes for a happier workplace.
As part of our initial work, we have established a connection with The Cherry Tree Therapy Centre in Buckhurst Hill and as part of a pilot, the staff of the five participating schools have access to therapists and counsellors – either as one-off sessions or a cluster of sessions – all free of charge. Since Lockdown, Headteachers outside the pilot have also been able to access this service, again at no cost to themselves. Our aim is to try and build upon this partnership so that we can broaden and develop this offer of expertise and support more widely across the MAT.
As a Trust, we have a strong commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of our children and their families, demonstrated by FaCSS, our Family and Child Support Services, and this commitment should be no different for our staff. To really ensure the very best outcomes for our children, to really ensure that learning environments are happy, safe, positive and successful places for our young people, the intent to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of our staff has to remain paramount.
Our work continues.
EFSPT Wellbeing Lead
Dr Claire Peters' Self Care Podcasts
Dr Claire Peters – EFSPT Educational Psychologist
Claire is putting together a series of 5-minute podcasts for our parents and staff with the first focusing on Self Care. To access these please click on the button:
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
Last year our Trust trialled an 8-week programme focusing on reflective and mindful practice for adults with very positive feedback.
Our facilitator was Dr Virdarshi Karatnarune, BSc(Hons), MBChB, PhD, FRCOphth. She has a wealth of experience in this field.
MBCT combines techniques like meditation and mindful movement with elements from cognitive behaviour therapy. Mark Williams' website on MBCT contains an excellent summary on mindfulness, its effects, as well as a summary of the MBCT programme (https://mbct.co.uk/).
MBCT addresses the negative effects of stress and trauma. The practices can help reduce the physiological effects of the stress response, not just in the short term, but in the long term by changing our perception of our lives and how we approach our lives. It can help develop the internal teddy bear, allow individuals to regain a state of flow if disturbed and remain in that state. It can increase the window of tolerance and help us respond rather than react automatically to what occurs in our lives, help develop a greater sense of calm and equanimity, an increased sense of compassion towards ourselves and others.
This programme will be offered in the summer term 2021 (if current restrictions are eased).