Driving forward long-term vision for Torbay children

Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza

Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza - Credit: gov.uk

This Sunday is World Mental Health Day and a reminder to us all to look after our mind as well as our body.

The pandemic has had a devastating affect on the mental health of so many people and, sadly, children haven’t escaped unscathed.

A report called the Big Ask Survey, based on the responses of more than half a million children, reveals that a third of unhappy children aged nine to 17 say poor mental health is the reason for their unhappiness.

I am pleased to hear that Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, is now calling on the Government to invest in the generation of children left bruised by Covid-19.

Too many of our young people have been victims of the pandemic, missing out on vital schooling and sports, and suffering financial hardship.

It’s a difficult time of the year for many families – the Universal Credit £20 uplift is ending and fuel bills shooting up, so we want to do all we can to help ease some of the financial pressures on some of our most vulnerable families.

Our partnership administration at Torbay Council has committed to the continuing investment in food vouchers for schools so they can issue them to children this October half-term holiday.

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We don’t want any child in Torbay to go hungry.

I am involved in monthly quartet meetings with the council’s chief executive, director of children’s services and the Cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services, to ensure we are driving forward our long-term vision for children.

We want to hardwire the celebration of success into our organisation and support staff so we can effectively achieve our goals.

We are making progress. We have been shortlisted as a finalist in the children’s services category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2021, which recognise the success of councils that adopt a strategic approach in the face of extraordinary challenges.

Our entry, ‘Innovation and Delivery at Times of Adversity – the rebirth of an achieving Torbay Children’s Service’, sets out how through investing in our workforce, stakeholders, politicians and processes, we have secured sustainable improvement.

We’re incredibly proud to have been shortlisted as we continue towards our vision of a child and family friendly Torbay.

We are crossing our fingers, and will find out if we’ve won at the awards ceremony in November.

Many of us face adversity over the course of our lifetime and need a little extra support.

As part of World Mental Health Day we are joining forces with our partners across Devon to highlight some of the key issues around mental health and what we are doing collaboratively to help residents who may be struggling.

As a council, we fully recognise the growing need for support in this area and our public health team have taken ambitious steps to improve how we do this.

One example is the Torbay Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Alliance which was formed in September 2020 to improve our residents’ experience and access to mental health and wellbeing support.

Brixham BeeWell logo

Brixham BeeWell - Credit: Brixham BeeWell

There’s more support available in Brixham, too, next week. On Tuesday, October 12, from 11am to 1.30pm, the new Brixham BeeWell community group are holding a launch event on the harbourside.

Getting involved can include free training in how to talk to people about their mental health and wellbeing, ‘listening ear’ support for neighbours, friends and colleagues, or offering safe spaces in your café, barber’s, or shop. It’s a fantastic example of how businesses, groups and individuals can come together to provide the additional support needed in their communities.