Apr 6, 2020

Since the national restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 came into effect, the Hastings Opportunity Area’s mental health team have been working with our service providers to support a range of activities and services they are delivering to schools, pupils, families and the community during this period. These include:


The youth wellbeing service for 14-25 year olds in Hastings and Rother, offering advice and support for emotional and mental wellbeing, employment, education and housing

Due to the new social distancing rules and the recent temporary closure of Rock House, i-ROCK have closed their physical i-Rock service.  However, they continue to provide their offer virtually over secure skype technology, telephone or email.  The service therefore continues to be available Monday to Friday 11am-6pm. 

Look out for their regular posts on social media , they have recently added a series of short video’s to promote staying well to their Instagram page, as well as providing a live Instagram feed 3 times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4.30pm.

For more information visit their webpage,  https://www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/irock 

Swift Domestic Abuse or Sexualised Behaviour Support for Schools 

Swift’s Free consultation service is available as normal should schools want to utilise it. 

SWIFT are still able to offer free consultation about any pupils where schools are concerned about domestic abuse or  sexualised behaviour, and where schools would like support to assist them in their direct response to pupils and parents. To book a consultation for Domestic Abuse concerns, please contact Patrick Walsh, Advanced Practitioner, SWIFT on 01323 463800 email  Patrick.Walsh@eastsussex.gov.uk . To book a consultation for sexualised behaviour concerns please contact Joe Dove, Advanced Practitioner, SWIFT on 01424 725050.”Joe.Dove@eastsussex.gov.uk

SWIFT have produced a School’s Domestic Abuse Toolkit which will assist teaching staff to support children and parents experiencing domestic abuse.  The toolkit was developed in response to the implementation of Operation Encompass within East Sussex and in recognition of the need to provide more resources for schools in relation to Domestic Abuse. The toolkit includes 5 brief information and resource sheets which covers the following:

  • Talking to children about safe and unsafe relationships
  • Talking to children about keeping safe 
  • Talking to Parents and responding to disclosures  
  • Talking to children about managing emotions 
  • Talking to children about resilience and self esteem 

Schools can download the toolkit here

“SWIFT have also produced a Guided Conversations Toolkit which will support schools to know how to communicate best with pupils and their parents following incidents of child sexual abuse, including incidents of peer on peer harmful sexual behaviour.  The toolkit includes three packs which covers the following:

  • Supporting children and young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour including behavioural management strategies for responding to concerns about harmful sexual behaviour.
  • Supporting children who have experienced sexual abuse, including managing disclosures and ongoing discussions.
  • Communicating with parents, including advice on how they can talk to their children about sexual abuse, as well as guidance on what to say/what not to say. 

Schools can download the toolkit here

Many Schools in Hastings & St Leonards have already attended light bite introductory sessions to launch the toolkits. Prior to 20/07/2020 SWIFT can offer further free sessions to any school who were unable to attend or who would like more guidance.  This training can be delivered in a number of different ways, such as delivering the training directly to DSLs or to all staff at staff meeting through virtual means if need be.[I think in the context that we probably need to change this] To book a consultation, please contact Joe Dove or Patrick Walsh using the details above.

KNOW Knives training and support 

This knife crime awareness project will continue its aim for young people to KNOW about the choices they have, what the law says and to empower them to say NO to themselves and to others who may encourage or force them to carry knives?. 

The Project  which usually works with young people in schools and the community to raise awareness about the risks associated with carrying a knife  has increased its online resources. The Project focuses on three areas :-

  • Educating young people to recognise and manage risk, make safe choices, be aware of peer pressure and look after their own personal safety and wellbeing.
  • Focusing on the issues of knives and other weapons, this will be specific to issues in local schools and communities.
  • Working with parents and carers to understand the dangers and risks surrounding knife crime and to provide them with information and strategies to discuss this with their young people.

Social media link – https://www.facebook.com/KnowKnives-237304627222490/

Whole School Approach to Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing during School closure

Since September Boingboing has been working closely with many schools across Hastings to develop a whole school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing. The work in these schools has been well received and demonstrates an enormous commitment of staff to this important area. 

Boing Boing are aiming to continue to offer support and training for schools, during this period. They are keen to talk to schools, in the first instance, to understand how they can support you now, both in respect of work that you are delivering in school with vulnerable children and children of key workers, alongside work to support pupils who are at home, alongside being able to support you to plan for the next phase, when schools begin to open. In particular, BoingBoing will be able to help schools prepare for issues which might arise around transition, bereavement, family conflict and anxiety when pupils return. 

Boing boing, are able to offer schools:  

  • Being at the end of the phone for advice and support.
  • Practical resources for families to support their own resilience and their children’s resilience or tips for home education.
  • Discussing best practice for redeploying staff to support children in their homes.
  • Sharing ideas for meeting the basic needs of families who are extremely vulnerable.

Please contact gabrielle@boingboing.org.uk to discuss your needs or arrange a virtual meeting. 

PSHE Education

Many schools have been considering how to adapt their PSHE or RSHE lessons this year in line with statutory guidance. Boingboing has been supporting schools to deliver engaging and thought-provoking lessons to help pupils understand about emotions, mental health and relationships. This learning is even more pertinent for children at the moment and helping them to understand their own feelings and how to negotiate complex interactions in the home will be crucial .

Boingboing is available to work with schools to develop lessons for children at home or to signpost to excellent resources online. Please contact gabrielle@boingboing.org.uk.

ESCC –key work support

After Easter, Key work support for children and young people in years 5-9 experiencing emerging emotional well-being issues will continue to operate for those 11 schools in Hastings who have been in receipt of a service from the team. 

During this period, the HOA short term key work team will offer revised model of support to families.

Referrals into the HOA Keywork Team will be for those children identified by schools as having concerns in relation to emotional and mental wellbeing and families struggling under the pressure of self- isolation.

The existing 11 schools will be able to make referrals to the key work service, using the current referral form and the team will then allocate a HOA Keyworker. All referrals will be centralised and allocated accordingly dependant on HOA Keyworkers capacity – no school will have an allocated worker at this point in time to allow flexibility to meet demand.  

After Easter, the HOA Keyworker will offer:

  • Regular weekly telephone or video call contact to identified children and their families during the period of support  
  • Sign post where possible to online support via Open for Parents, Online counselling etc.
  • Coaching to families during this stressful period
  • Send resources through to parents via email – Parenting Tip sheets and advice
  • Support parents to link with HOA Parenting Practitioner  where there is a need for more specific and longer term parenting advice

ESCC parenting practitioners

The parenting team will also continue to work with schools and has revised its offer to parents to ensure accessibility for all. After Easter, this revised offer will be advertised via Open for Parents website, the website is currently being updated to be a central point of contact. The offer for Hastings will involve:

  • Parenting Team Email service – a service (that is advertised on the website and Facebook) that directs parents to email into the parenting team.  The team will then respond via email and include electronic tip sheets.  
  • Triple P Online – The team are able to offer TPOL to parents that are able and confident enough with IT to access this. 
  • Phone calls to current caseload – Team members will be staying in touch via phone to parents currently on their school caseloads, particularly those who are more vulnerable, to offer light touch over the phone support.
  • Tip sheet/Seminars webinars – The team are working on recording videos to share online of sections of seminars and or key points from tip sheets that parents may find useful right now. Topics that will be included are anxiety, resilience, positive parenting . 
  • The team hope to launch a  twilight / early evening Parenting Phone Help Line – Mon – Thursday until 8:30pm starting after the Easter break

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