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isolated-sun-and-sea_1025-281   - editor David Wilson  07714772707 -   Journalist,   07917730238

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Student News

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A new app designed to help young people express how they are feeling has been launched by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

 The Mind of My Own app is designed as a communication tool to be used between children and young people in care, and the children’s services team.

 It gives older children the freedom and flexibility to use emoji’s and texts at any time of the day or night, to reveal how they feel about their foster placement, school issues, and even their case worker. The app can also be used by younger children with their social worker as a way of discussing topics, highlighting positives and confronting possible issues.

 Mind of My Own produces a report which feeds back to the social care team to be included in the child’s file. In time, a version of the app designed for young people and adults with learning disabilities will also be available.

 Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “I think the more ways in which we can give vulnerable children a voice, the better. As well as expressing how they are feeling, the app gives older children the ability to prepare for social worker visits or develop their plans for when they leave care. While younger children, or those with learning disabilities, can use the app with their social worker to express what is important to them, or what makes them happy or sad.

 “The fact that the information is fed back to the social care team as a report gives young people the knowledge that their views, wishes and feelings are being listened to. Children can also use the “share my good news” icon within the app to record their achievements, using the app in a positive way to interact with the social care team.

 “This is a great way in which our children’s services team will be able to extend their good work and make sure we are doing all we can to provide the best possible care to those children in our care.”

 The PDF reports generated by the app feeds into the child’s case file and Education Health Care (EHC) plans. No information is stored on the app or device and it has very strict adherence to GDPR and safeguarding legislation. The app is completely secure and has been designed to ensure it supports the safeguarding of children. It is already in use in other local authorities across England and Scotland.


Other benefits include:

·       Evidence that the voice of the child is being heard and their views

·       It’s quicker than email and easier than a phonecall

·       Evidence of improving the quality of direct work

·       It’s safe for children to report abuse and has been proven to lead to earlier reporting of issues

·       Reporting paperwork

·       Accessibility – the app works on most devices, tablets, or phones.


The app has launched and is available for young people in or outside of care to use now. You can find out more about Mind of My Own on their website and view Callie explain as a Mind of My Own case study, how the app helped her communicate with her social worker.


New app helps young people communicate with social care

The Mind of My Own app is designed as a communication tool

Nicola Laver







A health service which allows schoolchildren to anonymously text message a school nurse has launched.

 ChatHealth gives young people aged 11-19 an anonymous way in which they are able to discuss their physical and emotional health concerns with registered professionals from the school nursing team.

 The service launched across Southend-on-Sea at the beginning of September to give secondary school children an alternative way of communicating to their school nurse.

  Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “This is a fantastic initiative to help reach those children who, for whatever reason, are finding it difficult to cross the threshold into the school nurses’ drop-in sessions in schools.

  “The nurses have explained how they see some children walk past their door, desperate to reach out but unable to. This will give them an anonymous way of getting the help and advice they need. Young people will also be given to the opportunity for face to face contact with a nurse if they require this.

 “When many of us were at school, the nurse was there to deliver physical first aid and monitor general health, but it has changed so that nurses support children and young people with emotional health related issues, especially stress and anxiety relating to the academic environment.

 “ChatHealth has been successfully launched in other areas with good effect and we’re hoping for a similar response here.”

 Each young person will be asked if they want to give their name so their health records can be updated, but they can also remain anonymous if they wish.

 Messages can be sent at any time to 07520 649895, and a school nurse will respond between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, throughout the school year except bank holidays.


You can follow the school nurses on Twitter with the handle @SouthendSN.

Young people encouraged to text a school nurse for health advice


Senior school nurse Alice Bannon checks ChatHealth for new messages.

A campaign from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has been launched to give children an understanding of how criminals operate, in their attempts to force children to run drugs and money in, out and around the borough.

A hard-hitting video will be shown at The Odeon, with complementary outdoor and social media material. It focuses on children being groomed by criminal gangs, who are then forced to move drugs and money in and out, and around the borough. It shows children how quickly these new “friends” can turn very nasty, and provides reassurance and support to anyone who has any information.

The campaign, run in partnership with Essex Police, will give young people support and a place to go should they have information they need to pass on. Children will be able to tell us any information they would like to, completely anonymously, via a website that won’t track their IP or any other information All information received will be followed up by highly experienced professionals in the Children’s Services team at the council.

This is the third in a series of campaigns designed to help tackle the national issue of county lines. The first was created to inform parents of the signs to spot that their child could be being targeted by criminals. The second, in the lead up to the Christmas period last year, aimed to appeal to the consciences of recreational drug users and let them know their drug use directly resulted in local children being forced in to county lines activity.

Councillor Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety said: “County lines is very much a national issue, and we in Southend see more of this activity than some other places in the UK due to our good transport links to London. However any county lines activity is too much, and our Children’s Services team is dedicated to putting a stop to these harms with a holistic approach. These professionals work above and beyond their roles on a daily basis, to help children who are in the grips of these criminals, and to prevent children identified as being at risk of being groomed in the first place. This campaign offers our young people reliable information, support, and a place to anonymously report anything they may know, as much or as little as they would like to share with us.

“I’d urge anyone who knows anything about this activity to please use the website and tell us. We can help. Our trained professionals are experienced in helping young people. We treat children as victims first, and just want to help get them out of these often violent and truly awful situations. You don’t need to leave your name, or any details, please tell us what you know so we can stop this happening to anyone else.”

Councillor Anne Jones, cabinet member for children said: “Children can worry about speaking to the police, social workers or other professionals, and live in fear as a result. We have created this campaign to highlight how quickly these criminals turn, from seeming new friends, to people who trap young people in violent situations. Children can be forced to commit acts of violence themselves, which then makes it even more difficult for them to report their situation.

“With this campaign we are firmly offering help to these children. We want to get you out of the grips of these criminals, so please go online and tell us anonymously anything you can. These criminals are not welcome in our borough, and we will not stop until we have protected all our children.”

Southend District Commander Chief Insp Neil Pudney said: “We know the gangs that prey on and exploit vulnerable young people will start off offering them gifts or incentives to entice them in.

“Before long those children will find themselves owing a debt to gang leaders and forced to pay that off by selling or couriering drugs and in some cases even perpetrating violence.

“The gang lifestyle is one with a very high price attached, you will end up perpetrating or the victim of violence, you may end up arrested and imprisoned, we want to stop that before it happens by showing young people the grim and nasty reality of what that lifestyle is really like.

“We would urge any young people who want help to get away from a gang and out of this lifestyle to visit this website and take the first step in getting help.”

High school-aged children asked, “Who’s controlling your friends?”           in new county lines campaign


Primary school children in Southend-on-Sea are encouraging their grown-ups to stop smoking at the school gates.

Greenways Primary School in Southchurch, want parents and carers to get behind the scheme aimed to improve children’s health.

‘Smokefree School Gates’ was announced in June 2019, after initially being created and successfully implemented by Action on Smoking and Health Wales.

Children say "yes please!" to smoke free school gates

1-Smokefree school gates edit

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is asking residents for their nominations for the annual Southend Activity Awards.

The awards recognise those involved in sport and physical activity within the Borough, ranging from club members, officials to volunteers and teams.

 Nominations are now open and will close at the end of Sunday 20 October, with the special awards presentation being held on Wednesday 27 November at the Tickfield Centre.

The award categories are Community Hero, Coach of the Year, Club of the Year, Olympic Hopeful, Paralympic Hopeful, Sports Personality of the Year and Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “The annual Southend Activity Awards are a brilliant way of promoting physical activity across the Borough. The awards bring people from across the town together to celebrate sporting success and potential success for their futures.

 “Our town has fantastic sporting individuals, teams and coaches, and we want to celebrate their successes with friends and families. If you know of someone who deserves one of these awards, please do get in touch and nominate them today.”

All shortlisted nominations will be automatically considered for the Essex Sports Awards.

To find out more about the awards, or to make a nomination, visit For a hard copy of the nomination form, please email or phone 01702 215410.


A description for each award can be seen below:

Community Hero: A volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to local

Sport and or physical activity. This could be a coach, official, committee member, helper or anyone else who deserves recognition for their dedication

Coach of the Year: A coach who holds a current recognised coaching qualification (all shortlisted nominations will be verified by the appropriate National Governing Body). This should be someone committed to providing the highest standard of coaching to their athletes and/or to helping other coaches to develop.

Club of the Year: A local team that has made a significant impact. This can be through success in competition or by having a positive impact on the local community.

 Olympic Hopeful: A performer who has excelled in their sport and displays the potential to compete in a future Olympic Games.

Paralympic Hopeful: A performer who has excelled in their sport and displays the potential to compete in a future Paralympic Games.

Sports Personality of the Year: A performer who has made a significant impact this year, either individually or as part of a team.

Young Sports Personality of the Year: A young performer who has made a significant impact this year, either individually or as part of a team.

Southend Activity Awards open for nominations






Over half of Year 7 pupils that started at a Southend-on-Sea grammar school in September live within the Borough, new figures have revealed.

For the past three years, the council has run a yearly campaign urging parents of Year 5 pupils to consider taking the 11 Plus exam to increase the number of local children attending the four grammar schools within Southend.

The campaigns have been focussed around dispelling common misconceptions of the challenges families can face when their child attends a grammar school, such as the costs and transport to school for example.


Since the campaign launched in 2017, the percentage of Year 7 students living in Southend has increased by 12%:



     Year 2017   Count of Year 7 pupils living in Southend and attending grammar schools 301   Percentage of Year 7 pupils living in Southend and attending grammar schools 41.3%


2018    353    48.8%


2019    389      53.2%


Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Grammar schools are not for everyone, and so these campaigns have all been about promoting choice, raising awareness of the 11 plus and encouraging local children to apply for and sit the test.


“To have over 50% of the Year 7 students live within the Borough is excellent news, and something we are keen to continue promoting so that we can ensure that more local children have the information and opportunity to apply for the 11 plus if they wish to.


“Deciding on a secondary school can be a very daunting experience, and we just want to make sure we are doing all we can to ensure the transition is as smooth as it can be.”

Southend children attending local grammar schools on the rise