Jan 21, 2020

On Friday 17th January, practitioners that are delivering services across the Hastings Opportunity Area mental health strand came together for their second meeting to share practice and build further networks across the range of projects that are being funded. Discussions were led around how the organisations can continue to all work together and success and good new stories were shared between the teams.

Boingboing CIC Training

Gabrielle Rowles from Boing Boing CIC

The HOA continue to work with Boingboing CIC, who are offering schools free support to improve and develop their whole school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing. There are a good number of Hastings Schools that have now engaged with Boingboing and are taking up other training offered designed to support their self reported identified training needs. She also gave an update about the Mental health and emotional wellbeing PSHE work she has been supporting schools with and the support she has been offering around resilience and pupil, teacher and parent voice in relation to mental health and emotional wellbeing.


Simon Stanley from kNOwKnives

Simon Stanley gave an update on the kNOknives project, which works collaboratively with young people to promote positive messaging encouraging young people not to engage with knives. The project has now reached almost all year groups across all of our senior schools and has delivered a number of road show workshops in partnership with Sussex police and community providers such as our local housing associations.

9 – 14 Year Olds’ Key Worker Support Service

Mark Woodgate from the 9 – 14 Key Worker Support Service

Mark Woodgate runs the ‘9 – 14 Key Worker Support Service’ spoke about the continued positive uptake of the service they offer to a number of schools with the highest need. 83% of young people using the service are reporting an improvement from a short term intervention. 

While one to ones and drop ins continue to be the main interventions utilised, a number of other programmes to improve mindfullness and wellbeing are being implemented, including yoga sessions in three schools which have proved very effective. 

Open For Parents

Scott Brunton – Open For Parents

Scott Brunton spoke about ‘Open for Parents’, a project which offers a wide range of free parenting support services across the town. The parenting project is working well with the key work service who are linking parenting practitioners with families in schools with the greatest need, whilst still also offering light touch provision and online interventions town wide.

Parents are consistently starting interventions reporting high levels of stress and anxiety, which is being reduced to normal levels by the end of programmes. The team continue to focus on engaging with those parents that would not normally ask for help. Scott spoke about a father who attended a group session who left a note saying, “I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a better dad and husband.” He also highlighted the insight they’d gained from East Sussex Youth Council’s advice page curated by young people directly – ‘Top Tops to help Parents Support Kids Mental Well Being.’


Viki Ashby from the award winning drop in service  i-Rock spoke about how the recruitment of the Psychologist and assistant Psychologist has had a significant impact on the number of brief interventions they are now delivering.


Laura Beerling from the Hastings Opportunity Area

Laura Beerling our HOA mental health and attendance project manager gave an update on behalf Joe Dove and Patrick Walsh, who were busy delivering a briefing at another event to schools safeguarding leads. The two projects were busy  promoting their new schools toolkits. Funded by the HOA there are new free tool kits and training available to all Hastings schools through swift. Toolkits include a pack on supporting children who have experienced sexual abuse, working with children who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour, working with parents and a school domestic abuse toolkit.  5 schools have already taken up the training for the sexualised behaviour tool kit, with more schools booked on to undertake in late January.

Operation Encompass is an initiative that directly connects the police with schools to secure better outcomes for children who are subject  or witness to police attended incidents of domestic abuse. They continue working across all of our schools and an evaluation of this project is being compiled to be ready by the end of January.

Guest Speaker – Candice Simms

Candice Simms Behaviour Support Adviser, ESBAS Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability Services (ISEND). Candice briefed the group about the overarching aim for Therapeutic Thinking in East Sussex and training that is being made available to all East Sussex schools. The Therapeutic Thinking approach is a school-led embedded ethos

  • To support settings with developing a therapeutic approach to behaviour
  • To promote the inseparable link between teaching, learning and behaviour

Andrew Zacharia, the Fast Stream Social Research Officer in the Central Analysis Unit at the Department for Education delivered an update on behalf of  York Consulting who are carrying out an independent evaluation of the HOA mental health strand.

The HOA gave updates about a local youth led project that is supporting the creation of flyers and posters for our 3 mainstream senior schools. The project will help to promote mental health and emotional wellbeing help and support that’s available in school and within the community.

Helen Kay HOA Program director thanked all of the project practitioners  for all of their hard work and dedication across the program and highlighted the need to continue to measure impact across the strand.

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