The MAPS (Mentoring and Pastoral Support) project is specifically designed to help prevent issues in schools from escalating into more dramatic incidents. If you have ever watched local news bulletins and wondered how you could help to stop such things happening in the locality where you live, please read on and perhaps consider contributing, in some way to this work.
Week by week the MAPS team go quietly about their work of getting alongside individual children in local primary schools who, for an enormous variety of reasons, are finding life particularly stressful. Some have become withdrawn, others are disruptive and it can be for a number of reasons: family break up, the loss of a loved one, friendship issues at school to name a few. Most, at this stage, will not qualify for costly specialist support, but all are vulnerable and likely to face more problems in the future. The aim of the MAPS team is ‘to help children find direction wherever they are’. Parents and teachers welcome the assistance of the MAPS team, who provide time and space to talk through these issues with children. An activity booklet called "Journeys" (designed and printed by the team) encourages the children to think creatively about the choices they can make and the trusted people who could help them, as they learn strategies to cope with the things which are troubling them. Sometimes our teams are able to extend the help which they can give by offering lunch-time activities, small group or class work.
Issues of confidentiality often make it difficult to publish the success stories of the MAPS project, but it does not take much imagination to picture some of the unhappy situations which even the youngest children in our schools have sometimes to face. There is a saying that ‘no news is good news’. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were no more headlines of children self harming, of young gangs terrorising neighbourhoods, of knife crime or alcohol and drug abuse? Wouldn’t it be great if there were no more accounts of teachers leaving work through stress related illness or children staying away from school for fear of being bullied?
Please do get in touch if you feel this has touched you in any way. Would you want to volunteer some of your time to help and be part of the MAPS team? We would welcome new mentors to train alongside the existing team.
John Forster (MAPS Project Manager)