Catrin Patterson, a School Research and Delivery Practitioner in our Schools team, reflects on how our BU (wellbeing) programme has been making a difference for children and young people and what we can all learn from this.

When you are so busy flying all over the place it is easy to forget to stop...to reflect and to enjoy.  

The everyday worries that children and young people can have (about friends, school and the world around them) along with the trials and tribulations that are a difficult part of growing up, can be easily pushed aside during a busy day.  If these young people do not have the time and space to make sense of and voice these worries, they fester.

This has been my most rewarding part of delivering the BU course.  When children step into the BU group, we have no deadlines, no targets and no real sense of urgency.  If a child wants to spend five minutes telling the rest of the group all about how their puppy is waking them up at night, then so be it.  To that child, it may be a pretty big deal.  Our 'checking-in' and 'checking-out' with each other at the beginning and end of the sessions is so vital.  It allows me as the worker to get a feeling of the mood of the group as well as encouraging the children to recognise their own emotions and what's causing them to feel that way.

As the weeks go on, this part of the session takes longer.  I am hearing more and more detail about how they are feeling and they are getting much better at explaining themselves.  It also fills me with pride seeing how well they listen to one another, as well as respecting those who don't actually want to share.  As comfortable as I want them to feel to do so, I also want them to know that they do not have to explain at all.  Sometimes it really is just too difficult to explain but to know that there is someone there willing to listen can help just that little bit.

Understanding how valuable this practice is, I have introduced this 'checking-in' and 'checking-out' in our Schools Team office.  We must continue the conversation and remember that it's ok not to be ok sometimes.

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