JLC Community Wellbeing Task Force Introduces Pilot Project in 5 Jewish Schools
The Community Wellbeing Task Force is a JLC-led initiative to address the increasing mental health challenges facing Jewish children and young people today. Exemplifying the very best of cross-communal collaboration, the pilot project is the first result of the commitment and dedication of JLC member organisations including Norwood, Jami, Camp Simcha, PaJeS and Reshet, with support and guidance from generous philanthropic individuals and foundations.
The Community Wellbeing Project is a 3-year pilot scheme stemming from the advice of an expert panel and commissioned research, which identified that a positive approach to mental health and wellbeing requires an educated partnership between school staff, parents/carers and students. All stakeholders must work together to ensure a culture of wellbeing exists throughout the school.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in ten children in the UK (three per classroom) aged between 5-16 has a diagnosable mental health problem. At a recent PaJeS conference, Jewish primary and secondary school teachers spoke of the increasing challenges in managing the additional pressure of student’s mental health related issues and how and where to direct them. The Jewish community offers complementary support to many statutory services and the JLC believes the enormity of the challenge requires no different.
Wellbeing Practitioners are being recruited in 5 pilot schools in London and Manchester to build on existing programmes, run new evidence-based initiatives and work together to share best practices. The pilot schools are Yavneh College, JFS, JCoSS, Broughton Jewish Primary School and Rimon Primary School.
The Wellbeing Practitioner will support the school in the development and delivery of its whole school approach to emotional wellbeing. They will also have oversight of the implementation of all wellbeing resources used in the school, ensuring a holistic, coordinated and thorough programme of activity that reaches out in creative and imaginative ways. The project will combine current communal expertise, resources and capacity with best practise from outside the community.
The Community Wellbeing Taskforce is to be chaired by Nicola Cobbold. Clinical governance for the pilot project is being led by Dr Mark Berelowitz, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Royal Free Hospital and the project is being managed by Julia Alberga on behalf of the JLC. Monitoring and evaluation of the 3-year pilot will be provided by The Anna Freud Centre.
Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council said: “This is the JLC at its best – bringing together the very finest of our community and working collaboratively to identify and implement solutions to address the long term problems we face. I am proud we have banded together to work as one and I am confident that the coalition we have assembled will continue to work towards our collective goal: protecting the mental wellbeing of our children.”
Rachel Fink, Headteacher JFS, said: “We are excited and privileged to be involved in the community wellbeing project which reflects the importance we place on mental health and wellbeing across the community.”
Julia Alberga, project manager said, “In recognising the importance of this project, communal organisations and philanthropic individuals and foundations are working together to ensure the positive wellbeing of future generations of Jewish children.”