Improving life chances for children and young people is the top priority for Renfrewshire’s new Education Convener, Councillor Emma Rodden.

Visiting Glenburn Early Learning and Childcare Centre (ELCC), Councillor Rodden saw first-hand how putting health and wellbeing at the heart of learning and teaching ensures children to get the best start in life and helps them to develop resilience that supports them throughout their life.

The nursery has been praised recently in the Scottish Education Awards, achieving the Making A Difference award for their holistic approach to health and wellbeing, which includes supporting families and staff as well as children.

They have also become the first nursery in Renfrewshire to gain a ruby level by Renfrewshire Council’s education psychology team for their work to nurture and support children’s wellbeing.

During her visit, Councillor Rodden said the holistic approach taken by Glenburn ELCC was supporting everyone to thrive.

“It’s been a difficult few years for everyone. We know that many young children haven’t had the same opportunities for socialisation like their older peers had. On top of that, their parents have also had limited opportunities for meeting up with friends and family as well as financial worry, all of which has an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Staff have also had a challenging time supporting themselves and their own families as well as the children they look after.

“Walking around Glenburn ELCC, you can really see the positive impact focusing on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing has had. By removing the stigma of looking after your mental health and wellbeing, people feel empowered to reach out for support when they need it. Everyone in the nursery was introduced to positive wellbeing activities and resources, meaning that they can talk about how they are feeling as well as find the resources they need without feeling judged for having done so.”

Health and wellbeing is one of the cornerstones of Renfrewshire’s drive to improve attainment for all, alongside developing a love of reading and numeracy, and supporting care-experienced young people.

Councillor Rodden says that providing family support and focussing on early intervention is how the council will ensure young people reach their potential.

She said: “Prevention is key to ensure that children and young people have the right skills that will enable them to cope when faced with adversity in their lives, whether that is during their younger years or when they leave school.

“It’s also important that we support families who have had a tough time during the pandemic and are now faced with the cost of living crisis and rising energy bills. We need to do everything we can to ensure that children have everything they need to do well in school and in life. That means we need to ensure their families have everything they need, too.”

The council has launched a community mental health initiative, known as Ren10, that provides early help services for those in need. It includes Togetherall, a web-based peer-to-peer support forum where young people can get advice and talk about how they are feeling.

There is also SHOUT where local people of any age can text 85258 and get help and wellbeing support.

The council is also working to embed the recommendations of The Promise, which is a national commitment to care-experienced children, young people and adults to ensure that no child is disadvantaged because they grew up in the care system. It means that over the next ten years, Renfrewshire will embed the systematic changes detailed in The Promise to better support all children and young people living in the area.

Councillor Rodden added: “We want to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities in life. Through The Promise, we are working to make sure care-experienced young people and adults can thrive in the same way as everyone else. On top of ensuring they have the right care and love in their lives while they are growing up, it also means providing additional support that will help them reach their potential at school and beyond.

“We are also continuing to support people living in deprived areas to ensure they have what they need to thrive. Our Cost of the School Day fund helps support families on low incomes to ensure their child has the same opportunities as their peers. We are also supporting families to maximise their income and find higher paying jobs that better support them and their family. This will help their family and children feel part of their peer group, which is important for their mental health and has an impact on how well they do at school.”

Anyone who is worried about their money can get in touch with the council’s Advice Works team by emailing adviceworks@renfrewshire.gov.uk or Renfrewshire Citizen’s Advice Bureau by calling 0141 889 2121.

For help with jobs, email invest@renfrewshire.gov.uk to speak to the council’s Invest team.