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Team Mates: Back to School

Palace for Life Mental Wellbeing Coordinator, Tom, updated us on our flagship mental wellbeing programme Team Mates and what they've been doing now they're back to school!

“The last few weeks have marked not only the return of students up and down the country to school but also the return of our mental wellbeing project, Team Mates.

Throughout the last lockdown, we delivered a mental health series of webinars and workshops for whole classes of primary school children throughout south London and Sutton, this was a great way to stay engaged with our young people and we felt everyone concerned, including the coaches, took lots away from the sessions. Recently however we’ve been able to really reconnect with the participants on the programme by getting back to working face to face to improve our relationships, self-image, resilience and self-esteem!

Team Mates sessions follow a general process, we begin each week by giving the students a chance to speak and be heard. We talk about our weekend, what was good or bad, how we’re feeling if we’re excited or nervous about the day ahead or perhaps just what we had for dinner last night! It’s a great chance for the students and coach to reconnect, improving both speaking and listening skills. After this ‘check in’ we’ll move on to our main activity or theory for the session, something we want to work on together to collectively improve ourselves, our mental health and our chances of success. These activities can include discussing and creating targets and goals, devising ways in which we can communicate more effectively, considering how we see ourselves and others and the importance of acts of kindness, amongst many others.

Following this we’ll play a fun and often active game or two which are specially selected to further drive home the point of the main activity. Once everyone is tired and had their fill of fun we’ll sit down and much like the start of the session, everyone will get another chance to share any thoughts and feelings about the session, the weekend ahead, or whatever is on their mind! Since returning to school these sessions have been fun, dynamic and sorely missed!

After a difficult year, it has been a pleasure to re-connect with schools, staff and students. Team Mates is needed now more than ever and it’s been wonderful to see so many children be so receptive to the returning of the programme. Moving forward we will continue to work positively together for the duration of the rest of the school year, and I am especially excited to begin our short Summer term Transition course.

During the last six weeks of the school year, Team Mates coaches will be delivering a short course in the form of hour-long weekly workshops which are designed to educate, inspire and reduce any fears regarding the transition from primary to secondary school. We’ll discuss the biggest differences between the two and how best to navigate them. Issues such as bullying, getting lost, studying more subjects, homework and detentions are addressed, in the hope we can increase the confidence and comfortability of those children making the climb up to Secondary school. They’ll even get to see some pictures of Palace for Life coaches on their first day of school, assuming cameras were even around then…!

Though it’s been a tough year for everyone, we’re really excited to be back doing what we love and know that extra work has to be undertaken this year due to the lasting effects Covid could have on the mental well-being of our young people, but we’re ready, willing and can’t wait to crack on.”

Find out more about the Palace for Life Team Mates programme here

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