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Article date - 11 October 2018
Based in the Beacon Building in College Street, Tuition Service helps pupils with complex and medical needs return to mainstream provision.
The event, which was attended by St Helens Council Leader Derek Long; Deputy Leader, Andy Bowden; and town centre ward councillor Michelle Sweeney was opened by rousing speeches from current and former students who shared their own journeys of overcoming mental health and anxiety that left many audience members in tears.
Rob Vaughan, Teacher in Charge said:
"We have always operated an open door policy for our parents, many of whom have been through a terrible time watching their children struggle with their mental health in a mainstream environment.
“When staff heard that the Student Council wanted to acknowledge World Mental Health Day in this way, we felt passionate that we should give them this platform to not only celebrate the mental health support available to parents and young people in St Helens, but for them to be able to tell their story and be proud of how far they have come."
Parents were given the opportunity to meet the many agencies available in St Helens that can support child mental health – including a recently established support group created by parents of former Tuition service pupils.
The monthly support group, held at the Tunza Centre in Boundary Road, is the brain child of Lynn Grindley, whose child has gone onto further education after leaving Tuition, despite battling mental health issues. With support from fellow parents Vicky Glover and Holly Donaghy, Lynn runs the Beacon Parent Support Group which offers parents the opportunity to share experiences and support with other parents in a confidential, non-judgemental environment.
Sessions are held from 1:00pm-2:30pm on the first Wednesday of the month.
Earlier that day, Tuition pupils hid 75 ceramic 'worry warriors' containing inspirational messages around St Helens town centre for people to find, with the aim of putting a smile on the faces of those lucky enough to find one.
The worry warriors also contained a QR code to direct people to Tuition Service’s successful music video which features many famous faces from around the town, centred on raising awareness of mental health.
Commenting on the Tuition Service’s role in helping her son, Victoria Glover said:
"When you have a child that is wracked with anxiety and is regularly attempting suicide it often feels like there's nowhere to turn for help. The amazing staff at the Beacon took the time to get to the root cause of my son's anxiety and this has seen him develop into the mature, confident young man that he is today.
"I will never be able to completely thank them for their time and effort to support for both my son and myself."
Councillor Long said: "It was a humbling and uplifting experience meeting the staff, students and parents at Tuition. On behalf of Cllr Bowden and Cllr Sweeney and our colleagues, I’ve written to Rob to thank everyone involved for their great work.”
Earlier this year, Tuition Service showed its commitment to raising mental health and wellbeing awareness by becoming an ‘emotionally healthy’ school.
Supported by St Helens Council and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, St Helens Emotionally Healthy Schools Project has been introduced as part of the Local Transformation Plan for Children’s Mental Health services and is based on national guidance developed by Public Health England alongside the Department for Education.
A wide range of services are available in St Helens for anyone wanting to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.