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Education Partnership North East supporting vulnerable students during COVID-19 lockdown

Education Partnership North East group – which includes Hartlepool Sixth Form, Northumberland College and Sunderland College – is providing thousands of young people across the North East with access to vital support and resources following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those who are affected by safeguarding concerns, young carers or parents, care experienced students and those with disabilities can continue to attend face-to-face sessions at specified college campuses or are able to remain in regular contact with their designated support officer via telephone, email or Live Chat.

Across the three colleges, 150 students continue to receive intensive one-to-one support for existing personal or emotional support needs.

In addition, the Information Services and Student Support teams are available Monday-Friday to answer queries and concerns.

The group has sustained a comprehensive programme of participation focused on the social, emotional and developmental needs of individual students. Tutor support and guidance has continued across the colleges, engaging more than 5500 students in weekly individual digital or telephone-based meetings. These meetings mirror the typical personal development activities that would occur if the colleges were operating normally, and ensure students are progressing with their studies and have the resources needed.

The team is also seeing an increasing number of family-related issues arising through this period of global and national challenge resulting in students moving to alternative accommodation, with the colleges’ Intensive Support Officers acting quickly to confirm the safety of the students and offer financial and tailored advice where needed.

Following the lockdown, the group has further supported more than 130 students remotely through one-to-one counselling for a range of issues including mental health or financial concerns delivered by the Intensive Support Team.

Nicola Warburton, head of student experience, said: “One of our students had a disagreement with a parent, which led to a relationship breakdown.

“The tutor was unable to make contact with the student and knew that this young person was known to the Safeguarding Team. Our Intensive Support Officer immediately stepped in and was able to ensure the student was safe and had suitable alternative accommodation.

“The Intensive Support Officer referred the student to a support worker who made the necessary checks, provided relevant external contact numbers and access to financial support.”

The Intensive Support Team has also recorded a high number of young parents who are finding it increasingly difficult adjusting to a new way of life and looking after their children following the closure of nurseries and schools. The college team are working to ensure those who may be struggling personally, are able to receive support from the group’s counselling team directly, or through managed referrals to other support networks.

Nicola added: “Another of our students, a young parent who is in weekly contact with our Intensive Support Officers, admitted they were struggling due to living with additional pressures.

“Daily contact is now being made with the student to carry out welfare checks and a counselling appointment was made and delivered the same day.”