From the desk of our General Manager, Mike Williams

By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Sunday July 26, 2020

Remember the days of the old schoolyard…? We’re working hard to ensure the next generation of children’s memories of their early days will be a nostalgic mix of hope, happiness and promise.

Like many who had birthdays and other significant events fall during lockdown, so did our Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme – which rolled over 20 years of working alongside students, whānau and teachers. A national programme delivered throughout schools in NZ, it was first introduced in late April 2000, and targeted primary and intermediate schools with lower socio-economic catchments. 

Image by: Anglican Family Care

Today, the programme is delivered in five schools throughout Dunedin including Bathgate Park, Brockville, Carisbrook, Concord, and Pine Hill by two qualified Social Workers, who base themselves in each of the schools on a rotational basis.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash — Image by: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

SWiS aims to improve outcomes for children whose often complex and difficult circumstances put them at increased risk in terms of their health, wellbeing, safety and educational achievement. To help succeed with this, our SWiS have worked hard to become integral and trusted members of the school community. A 2018 paper found that due to the involvement of SWiS, children experienced fewer stand-downs and suspensions, care and protection notifications to Oranga Tamariki, and Police apprehensions for alleged offending. A service that creates positive change.

Our SWiS team directly engage with vulnerable children both individually and in groups focusing on a wide range of topics targeting the following:

  • positive self-image
  • communication skills
  • healthy relationships
  • keeping themselves safe
  • cyber safety awareness
  • self-care and hygiene
  • growing young leaders
  • self-regulation
  • overall wellbeing.
Image by: Sarah Thornton

Prior to COVID-19 lockdown, the service was already facing high volumes of referrals for vulnerable children presenting with varying degrees of psychological and emotional trauma. While our SWiS workers weren’t able to physically see the children they were working with throughout lockdown, they stayed connected as best they could with texts, emails - even postcards! The post-lockdown period has seen additional demand as the stresses of living return after a period of life at a slower pace. The uncertainty ahead is undoubtedly causing additional stresses and anxieties for whānau as well.

We know from experience that many children and whānau continue to face complex issues that impact on their education and wellbeing, and working with these children requires a collaborative approach. The SWiS programme is another example how we work with community partners including school principals, teachers, public health nurses, police, the Ministry of Education and other professionals, to assist with challenges and find solutions that have a positive impact on their lives.

Collectively making change that inspires hope for a better future.

Ngā mihi nui