Seasons for Growth was introduced to the Shrewsbury Diocesan area by Ged Flynn, Director of the Catholic Children’s Society in 2005. Initially, Companions were trained to deliver the programme in the schools in Halton borough. In April 2007, a successful bid for Children in Need funding was secured, enabling Ged to establish a school-based model for training and delivery, which has seen the process embedded into 45 schools in the Halton, Wirral, Shropshire and Stockport areas.
Ged Flynn was the principal Trainer in the area and, through various funding streams, he secured three coordinators for Seasons for Growth working for the Society – Leanne Jones, Barry Lyonette and Mary Saull. Their work was supported by the administrative assistance of Eleanor Allman in our Birkenhead office. In March 2009, Barry became a Trainer to assist in meeting the need for Seasons in the area.
In the years 2006-2009, there were 9 training events which saw 104 companions successfully completing the two and a half days’ course. 44 of these are now fully accredited having delivered their first programme – another 11 are currently implementing their first programme and are due to complete before Christmas 2009. Of the 2 most recent training events in September/October 2009, 25 of the 30 companions are planning their first programme for the spring term 2010.
The process that has been put in place is designed to ensure that as many Companions as possible not only implement their first programme as soon as practically possible after training, but also that they continue to plan for programme delivery on an annual basis. Only in this way do we feel that children and young people in the area can get the help and support when they really need it. A Steering Group within Catholic Children’s Society has recently been established in order to plan the growth of Seasons within our capacity and to monitor its development
The coordinator’s role is crucial in supporting the trained Companions. They promote Seasons in the schools; set up the training events; support the trainer during the training sessions and the Re-connectors; ensure de-briefing takes place for all subsequent programmes after initial delivery; provide whole school staff meetings to ensure widespread knowledge amongst schools’ staff of the purposes of Seasons; offer school assemblies to raise awareness among pupils and students of the programme; set up Milestone Meetings with clusters of Companions to support their progress towards first programme planning within our Pathway Pack; and establish Network Meetings on a regular basis to give opportunities for sharing good practice.
Between 2010 and 2012, Seasons for Growth was being included in the universal provision for schools involved in the government’s Targeted Mental Health in Schools project [2009-2012] in Halton, Wirral, Shropshire and Stockport. Training of Companions and support towards delivery will follow the procedures outlined above.
More recently CCS is linking the work of a Bereavement counsellor with the development of the Seasons programme, and currently much work is being done in raising the awareness of schools’ staff in the support for bereaved pupils and students.