Writtle Infant School Health & Happiness Hub

We are a village infant school with a passion for improving the mental health of the children in our care. Every day we see that happy children are more successful academically. By establishing a positive mindset and mental resilience in the early years, we can equip children with the strategies to cope with anything life may throw at them, so that they become prosperous, happy adults. However, we know that their happiness depends on the positive mental health of those around them; their friends, families, and trusted adults both in school and in their community.

Our Health & Happiness Hub will be a purpose-built centre and sensory garden to enhance our extensive program of wellbeing support for all children. The hub will also be open to the whole community. It will be located in the heart of our Forest Schools area, a woodland space in which our children learn to engage with the natural environment, which already has a positive impact on their mental health. The project has been endorsed by Writtle Parish Council and County Councillor John Aldridge. We have secured involvement from organisations across the community who have expressed their support and interest in using the space. These include:

  • Chelmsford School Sports Partnership, for sports training sessions
  • The Children’s Health Project, for training sessions and workshops to support children’s health and wellbeing
  • Essex Child & Family Wellbeing Service’s School Nursing team, for drop-in family health sessions
  • Home-Start Essex, to support vulnerable families
  • Writtle Link Club, to involve the elderly in the village with children at our school
  • Green Earth Learning Ltd, forest schools training and sessions for local pre-schools such as The Duckling Nursery
  • Small group fitness classes
  • Local meditation and mindfulness group
  • Yoga classes for children, adults and families

In-house uses would be:

  • Before/after school clubs for children’s yoga, family yoga, gardening and forest schools
  • Pets as Therapy sessions for children to read alongside a therapy dog
  • One-to-one counselling for vulnerable children
  • Musical communication sessions for children with ASD
  • Lego therapy
  • Nurture group programme for children with additional social & emotional needs
  • Sensory space and garden to offer a respite area for children, parents and staff
  • Meeting space for families in need of support or who are working with professionals
  • Coffee mornings/workshops for parents with a focus on supporting mental health
  • Positive psychology coaching for staff to support their wellbeing
  • Forest Schools sessions for children to connect with the natural environment
  • Amazing Me mindfulness programme for children

Mental health issues are a national concern which we have seen reflected in our local community. As other avenues of support are depleted, or the threshold for accessing them is raised, the hub will be the perfect space to offer intervention at the earliest possible stage, supporting the wellbeing of the whole village. It would be used both during the school day and out of hours, with a disabled toilet, kitchen facilities and discrete access from the street so that the security of the school is not affected. Our preferred design is an L-shape layout of two pods. We estimate the cost for these to be around £55,000. In addition to this cost we will need to provide utility services to the hub and landscape the space. A number of local businesses have offered to support us with this element of the project. So far we have secured grants from the National Lottery and Ann Johnson’s Educational Foundation, as well as raising funds for the hub through the school and our Parents Association, which is a registered charity.

Our vision for the Health & Happiness Hub is to bring people together, build strong relationships and provide a dedicated wellbeing centre for the whole community. If you can support us through fundraising or any practical help, we would love to hear from you.