Havering Colleges awarded for mental health support during lockdown

New College has been commended for its work supporting mental health. Picture: Havering College

New College has been commended for its work supporting mental health. Picture: Havering College - Credit: Havering College

Havering Colleges have been commended for wellbeing and mental health support during Covid lockdown.

Support for students at New City College, which includes the Havering Colleges in Hornchurch, has reached Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Beacon Standard and Commended Status in recognition of its “highly effective and innovative response to the increased anxiety, mental and wellbeing issues of students, staff and the wider community” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

New City College is the only further education college in the London region to have achieved this status in 2020.

The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year. They are awarded every year by AoC to provide recognition for excellence and innovation, acknowledging the talents of staff at all levels.

The pandemic and the resulting lockdown in spring 2020 stopped all business as usual in its tracks. It tested the creativity and flexibility of all organisations, including colleges.

The college says that some of the ways in which it changed to support its students’ mental wellbeing was the establishment of a £200,000 NCC Hope Fund to provide extra financial support to those facing financial difficulty due to the pandemic and effective triage of support requests through a central and responsive customer service contact centre.

They also quickly adapted the college’s mental health professionals to respond to a sudden increase in demand and they increased the offer of counselling readily avilable, including support out of term time, and extending college professional counselling support to partner with NHS staff.

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New City College group principal and CEO Gerry McDonald said: “We are delighted that our work to support students in their learning and beyond at such a challenging time, has been recognised with a national commendation.

“I am proud of how our staff quickly and proactively responded to the impacts of lockdown, to adapt and increase support for students and their families.”

There were five other colleges to receive the award from all over the country.