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Say hello to another team member…

I’m Aileen Mackay; head teacher of Smithton Primary and Early learning Centre and I also have a part time local authority remit working with universities and their student teacher programmes, working with first year teachers, representing Highland with the General Teaching Council for Professional Update and inducting new supply teachers in Highland.

I am honoured to be a part of the Change, Loss and Bereavement group and have made sure that all new teachers have ‘Change, Loss and Bereavement’ as part of the induction year programme under the theme of relationships and child safeguarding. It has been recorded by many teachers that this section  of their induction has proved to be invaluable whether primary or secondary teacher.

As a head teacher one of the most valuable resources we use is the Seasons for Growth Parent Programme I find that this really helps parents and carers to have confidence in speaking with and listening to their children whether around the death of a loved one, a move of house or a change in family circumstances. I have seen parents blossom after receiving the sessions and, in turn, their children more relaxed and able to learn.

Understanding change, loss and bereavement allows us to better understand a young person’s behaviour and communication with us. It’s important that we enable young people to articulate their feelings and to express their emotions. Health and well being is core to every child or young person’s education. It is our responsibility to understand as much as we can about each young person we teach regardless of their age or the subject we teach.

Is your child starting school this Autumn?

Bumps to bairns have uploaded this really useful post and video to their site today. Worth a watch if you are beginning to consider your child’s transition into Primary 1 after the summer.
Thank you bumps to bairns for letting us share this.

Will my child be ready?

After the last year, many parents and carers with children due to start school this autumn may have a worry about whether they will be ready

And wondering what they can do to help prepare

It is a natural concern, and we’ve made a short film to try and show how there is no need to be too worried

There is input from Education Scotland inspectors, as well as from experienced teachers, to explain how transition into school will go this year, what P1 classes will be like in Highland, and how you can help your child prepare

At all times, if you have concerns and can’t find the answers, your local school will be more than pleased to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch

We’re back with meet the team chapter 5!

Hi, my name is Hannah and I look after the Bereavement Team at Highland Hospice. Our Crocus Group staff and volunteers are part of the bereavement team, and they support children and young people in Highland who feel they need a bit of extra help to manage after someone important to them has died.  

I love my job because it is important to me to make sure that young people who are grieving are listened to and get the attention and help that they need.  

When I’m not working I like to go out on my paddle board, play board games and watch too many shows on Netflix. Sometimes I need my friends to tell me to stop working and start relaxing!  

I’ve chosen some resources that Crocus Group give to many children and young people after someone has died: 

For younger children, the ‘Little Book of Loss’ is a great reminder of important messages to tell ourselves on the harder days, such as “Whatever has happened, it’s not your fault.” It comes with an information leaflet for the grownups. 

For slightly older children, the ‘Pocketful of Plasters’ is one of the most popular resources and reminds us that sometimes we need first aid for our feelings, not just our bodies.  

For teenagers, the book ‘Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers’ contains some great advice and thoughts and can bring a lot of reassurance and comfort. I wish the cover was better! One good quote from it is: 

“You can’t heal what you don’t feel.  

If there is pain, it’s because of a wound you can’t see.  

You don’t help yourself by running away from your emotions and pretending that nothing has happened. 

Accept and allow yourself to experience your hurt.  

Try not to say: “I shouldn’t feel the way I do”. 

Your feelings are natural and okay, even though they may be scary and painful”.  

Meet our team – chapter 4

Image result for national autistic society

Hi I’m Alison and I work for the National Autistic Society Scotland. I am an Information Officer for Highland which means I can help parents and carers (and the professionals who support them) with information about autism before and after diagnosis. It might be someone looking some specific advice or just a general chat, if I can’t help myself I’ll always try and signpost on to other services who can help.

Change of any kind can be very hard for autistic children and young people but it can be helped by using visual supports and by things such as social stories. We’ve got lots of great information on our NAS website, for example:

Part of my job is looking after our wonderful library at the Pines. I am building up our collection of bereavement resources as I think this is such an important issue to support. The library is not open due to Covid but you can search the library to give you examples of books you might try:

Often children’s books are available on YouTube being read as stories which is a great (and free!) way of accessing them.

I can suggest lots of other resources so do get in touch if I can help.

My favourite resource? Wow there are so many I’ll have to choose two:

Just get in touch if I can help:

Meet our team – chapter three

Hi everyone, I’m Carrie and I work as a Forensic Psychologist in Highland. I mainly work with social workers and care workers in supporting children and young people, but I also enjoy times when I get to work directly with children and their families. Often, when working with young people who have got in to trouble with the police, or who are having challenges at school, it tends to be that they have encountered change and loss in some way or another, and my role is often about trying to help what this might be and how it is affecting the young person.

I am quite new to the clb group but am delighted to be part of it and hope I bring something useful, as well as learn too!  Already I have enjoyed learning about a number of different resources that look so helpful!  I have chosen a resource that may not be one people immediately associate with change, loss and bereavement – and in fact, it’s a ‘resource’  I have only recently been aware of.  But since I found it, I have referred to it a lot, have signposted many people to it and have used it myself.  So… what is this magical resource?!  Its an app called ‘Insight Timer’ 

Loch Earn, Scotland, High, Loch, Earn, Mountains

It’s a free app (or you can just refer to the website) which offers talks, courses, music, meditations, to help with stress, anxiety and sleep.  I think we can all acknowledge that during times of change, loss or bereavement, it can often lead to stress and anxiety, and/or can lead to difficulties with sleeping.  The app has some great tips and practices to help with this, as well as a section for parents who are looking for tips to help ease their children’s nerves and boost their self-confidence.  The app might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for some it will be just what you’ve been looking for!

Meet our team – instalment two

Hi, I am Isabel Shaver and I am an Educational Psychologist who works in Highland. I am a Seasons for Growth Trainer and I have been training staff in Highland to become Seasons for Growth companions for the last 12 years, introducing Seasons to Highland not long after I moved up here to work. I am also a member of the CLB group and a member of the group who develop and review the Tragic Event Guidance for Schools. 

Being asked to share a resource I use regularly and find helpful was difficult because there are so many resources, I thought about including the CBUK website that Jo has already mentioned as well as Winston’s Wish, Child Bereavement Network, Young Minds  and Papyrus websites and of course the Seasons programme.

Seasons would be the resource I would choose to share because having the opportunity to attend a Seasons group makes a significant difference to many children and young people. We hear again and again from children and young people who have attended a group (and from their parents/carers, companions and staff at school) about the positive difference this has made. Attending a group provides the opportunity to explore with others the impact of significant change, loss and/or bereavement, including the opportunity to safely explore feelings as a result of the loss. Even when a child or young person doesn’t want to talk about what has happened.  But of course this site has much more information about Seasons without me speaking about it so please do go to the Seasons site and find out more if you are interested.  Or view our Seasons pages here.

On reflection which one resource am I choosing to share? Well I have chosen one which children/ young people and their families continually report is useful when dealing with the death of someone important to them. This resource is the set  of ‘I can’ cards which are now available as a download. A group of bereaved pupils working with Seasons for Growth in Scotland came up with a list of suggestions for support and these suggestions were printed on cards so that children and young people who are dealing with the death of someone important to them can use the cards to let others around them know how to help them. Finding words when dealing with the death of someone important to you can be difficult, however using these cards can help young people to open up conversations or alternatively mean that others can get an idea of how to help without words being used. Children and young people can choose to use these cards to share with others (including their parents, friends and teachers). It is not uncommon to feel powerless and alone when dealing with the death of someone important but this resource can help children and young people to feel connected with others and to have a bit of control in dealing with what has happened. Not all children and young people will want to use them but those who do tell us they have found them helpful.

Click on each card below to access a copy to download.

Updated Book List

I know we have mentioned our book list before, but we thought we would remind you that we try to update it regularly. This week, Alison from the National Autistic Society got in touch with some new additions. They can be found here.

It was great to see that so many of you have already downloaded the book list, and the Tragic Events Guidance. We will continue to add relevant information, guidance, website links and tools as and when we receive them.

Thank you also to those of you who have signed up to our blog so that you will get notifications when we update the site. Please feel free to share the site far and wide so that it can be helpful to as many people as possible.

You can sign up to receive notifications of our new blog posts here.

Meet the CLB Team, and hear about our favourite resources

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to our new followers. We thought it might be useful to say hello and for each of us to share a resource we use regularly and find helpful. So here is our first instalment.

I’m Jo, my day job is ‘Transitions Co-ordinator’, I’m a Seasons for Growth Trainer and Companion and I am a member of the CLB group here in Highland. In real life, I have just returned to work after a year off on Maternity Leave with my very fun and increasingly mischievous daughter!

Ordinarily, I think had I been asked what my go to resource was in terms of change and loss I might have talked about Seasons or the CBUK website. However, after welcoming Eva to the world 11 months ago, and living the last 10 months in a pandemic, my resource has to be bumps to bairns.

Not necessarily what jumps to mind when you think of change and loss?

Bumps to bairns is full of evidence based information and guidance about our little people, from baby to 5 years old. The site’s tagline sums it up ‘Early help for Highland children’.

So why is this my favourite resource, and what has it got to do with the subject of this website?

Well, I’m sure we can all agree that it has been a funny old year. Nothing has been certain; apart from change! I can’t tell you how many times my Mum friends have expressed guilt and fear that they aren’t doing enough. Bumps to bairns is a great place to visit if you have questions, if you want some information and so importantly right now; for some ideas of what to do with your children while we are staying at home.

The advice I needed to hear this week was this:

“Play and talk is all you need

What really matters for young children? It is “just” time to play and to chat. If you do things that everyone enjoys and can chatter about, then learning is automatically going to happen. It just will.”

Thank you to James and the team behind bumps to bairns, your website has been so helpful to me in the transition to becoming a parent, being a parent in lockdown and in doing so it has helped me to be more accepting of the changes that are occurring around us daily.

When People Die: Stories from Young People

When People Die: Stories from Young People is a comic that tells numerous stories about death and resilience from a group of young people. The comic helps
readers gain different and better perspectives on grief and what grieving means for young people.
These stories and scenarios have been written by a group of young people selected from Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (Robin House), HMYOI
Polmont, and Richmond’s Hope, and put together by the team at the Dundee Comics Creative Space.

This comic will help people such as school
teachers, guidance counsellors and anyone who reads it to learn more about how it feels to be in the position of a grieving young person.
Find the link to the comic on our resources page here.