Essential support on offer for young people in the Sid Valley

There are fears children receiving therapy before lockdown have been 'set back' by the pandemic, wit

More children are feeling worried by issues such as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are two important events taking place at the beginning of April.

Firstly, the WHAT (Wellbeing and Health Action Team) will be sharing the progress made over the last two years to provide mental health and wellbeing support to young people in the Sid Valley. There is a community event on Tuesday, April 5 at Port Royal Sailing Club.

In addition, people interested in volunteering with a local organisation are invited to drop into Sidmouth Methodist Church Hall, Sidmouth High Street on the mornings of Friday 1 and Saturday, April 2 between 9.30am and 12.30 pm.

Two years ago this week we were on the verge of a global pandemic. Sid Valley Help and Sidmouth Town Council were leafleting every household in the Sid Valley to inform people of the support available to those who were not able to get out or were people most vulnerable to infections. An appeal went out for volunteers to do shopping, collect prescriptions, provide transport or walk dogs. The response was extraordinary for extraordinary times. On March 23, 2020, the government imposed a lockdown and volunteers along with essential staff were exempt from the restrictions that only allowed one hour of exercise each day. For months numerous volunteers, neighbours and businesses worked together to support the most vulnerable.

We continue to help people still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as others that use our befriending service or a range of support. More recently people have become anxious and concerned about the war in Ukraine, especially children and young people who find it difficult to articulate their worries. Society as a whole is experiencing a massive drop in mental wellbeing as a result of two major incidents that we had not foreseen.

Just before the first lockdown WHAT was launched in Sidmouth to provide local support to children and young people struggling with mental health and wellbeing issues. WHAT includes many organisations that together provide support for children, young people and their families. By working together and sharing concerns we have identified gaps in local provision and try to find solutions to provide support. Throughout the last two years and despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, members of WHAT have continued to deliver provisions to support young people. Not only have they done what we originally planned to do, but have adapted, adjusted and increased provision to meet the ever-changing restrictions and limitations imposed by the pandemic. There is an increasing need for support as a result of lost school time and impact on exams, changes to routines and friendships and general anxiety about the pandemic.

The community was very positive about the WHAT launch two years ago and contributed generously to costs of provision like Headlight. We want to report on the achievements of the last two years and share our plans for the next two years with those interested or who would like to be involved. RSVP to sidvalleyhelp@gmail.com if you wish to attend the event on April 5 from 6.30-8.30pm at Sidmouth Port Royal Sailing Club.

If you would like to volunteer with Sid Valley Help or other organisations in the valley you are invited to drop into Sidmouth Methodist Church Hall, Sidmouth High Street on the mornings of Friday 1 and Saturday, April 2 between 9.30am and 12.30 pm. You will be able to meet with representatives from Sidmouth Hospice at Home, Sid Valley Help, Sidmouth Voluntary Services, The Sid Valley Memory Café and Gateway to find out about what the organisations do, how you can volunteer and choose the Organisation(s) which best fit your volunteering aspirations. A warm welcome and tea, coffee and cake will be provided. Please come along and find out who we all are and what we do for our local community, and how you can be involved.