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TLG looking after childrens physical and mental health kids

TLG: Looking After Children's Physical and Mental Wellbeing

portrait Gill Nichol
3 min

Around eighteen months ago it was rare for Aimee to complete a full week at her primary school. She was anxious, cried every day and was filled with fear at the thought of going to school. A year later a joyful Aimee skips across the playground to meet her friends. My anxieties are now 100% better. I used to be at 0% and now I’ve shot up to 100%, somehow!”

Aimees turnaround is a direct result of her weekly sessions with Ntombi, her Transforming Lives for Good (TLG) Intervention Coach. Using a range of strategies and coaching resources, Ntombi was able to talk to Aimee about her struggles, helping her to rebuild her confidence and regain her childhood.

TLG, founded in 1998, focuses on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of some of the UKs most vulnerable children and young people. During the past two decades, and particularly in the last five years or so, the rapid increase in the number of children and young people reporting poor mental health has become more widely acknowledged and reported, and yet, as with adult mental health issues, there remains a disconnect between the need and the public resources available.

It was this that led Tim Morfin, TLG’s founder and Chief Executive to create a Christ-centred, local church-based, solution to the burgeoning need.

TLG aims to bring hope and a future to struggling children through three distinct programmes. Firstly, it has 12 church-based Education Centres where a small team of qualified teachers work with up to ten children who have been excluded from mainstream school. Secondly, an Early Intervention programme where children struggling with anything from the effects of poverty to anxiety, family breakdown or bereavement are matched with a coach who meets with them once a week for a year. And finally, Make Lunch, which is a church-based programme to tackle Holiday Hunger for kids receiving free school meals.

Tim believes the breakdown of home life is a core reason for the rise in poor mental health in those aged 18 and under. He says, “We know that a stable and loving home life is Gods intention for us and that when that is not there it has a major impact on wellbeing”.

Add to that mix a host of secondary factors, things like social media with its portrayal of a level of perfection that is unreal… and it can soon lead to high levels of anxiety, particularly for young people who are still trying to find their points of reference in the world.”

The impact of dedicated care and expert support cannot be underestimated. As Tim says: Anything that creates connection will have a positive impact on emotional health and wellbeing”.

This was certainly Troys experience. Troy, who is in his mid-teens, lives in West London and, when one of his school friends died in the Grenfell Tower fire, he struggled with anger, nightmares and sleepless nights. He needed someone to listen and help him – but instead found himself excluded from school. Luckily, he was referred to TLG West London where he found that they actually wanted me to do better in life”, and provided a space where he could make mistakes and yet still be supported. Troy has now returned to his mainstream school. He’s transformed, engaging, confident,” says James, the centres deputy manager. “He’s better able to manage the horrors he has faced.”

Mental health issues dont exist in a vacuum and Tim would like to see changes in government policy, specifically a rethink of educational policy – with less emphasis on grades and more on meeting the emotional and physical needs of young people. Children need to be settled to learn, to know they are loved and cared for,” Tim says. “At a very practical level, hungry children cant learn. These things should be the first thoughts of government policy, not afterthoughts”.

And, until government policy is radically overhauled, TLG is there to help where it can – in the 12 months to February 2021, TLGs 200 partner churches supported 6,135 children and young people.