Saffron Walden students bearing gifts and cards spread festive cheer for patients

Year 9, 11 and 13 Health and Social Care students at County High along with chairman of the North Es

Year 9, 11 and 13 Health and Social Care students at County High along with chairman of the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust, Chris Paveley, and Trust volunteer Nadiene Birch. - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden County High students have been praised for embracing the Christmas spirit by making cards and presents for mental health patients.

The youngsters, Year 9-13 Health and Social Care students, were inspired after staff at the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust (NEPFT) gave a talk about the impact poor mental health has on people’s lives.

It sparked the idea they could do their bit to raise the morale of people who have to spend Christmas in hospital.

Chairman of the NEPFT Chris Paveley said the students were “showing others the way” by endorsing the trust’s message that there is ‘No Health Without Mental Health’.

“Mental health is not something the general public particularly engages with so it is great for a group of students to make presents and cards for patients to remind them that the community is thinking of them,” he said. “It’s really what the Christmas story is about and a great example to other schools.

“Mental illness is like any other illness and well done to Saffron Walden County High school for showing others the way.”

Nadiene Birch, who has been forced to spend Christmas in hospital on numerous occasions due to mental health problems, joined Mr Paveley in presenting a certificate to the County High students and accepting gifts on patients’ behalfs.

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She said: “If you’re in hospital over Christmas and don’t get visitors it can be really lonely. These cards and presents are going to make a big difference to people.”

Year 9 student Chloe Starr explained: “We wanted to do this activity because we wanted to show the patients they have not been forgotten over the Christmas period. We have specifically chosen patients with anorexia or bulimia because people think that they are just ‘mental patients’ when they really need our care and attention.”

Fellow Year 9 student India Ilott added: “We have also been looking at and creating power points and leaflets on eating disorders to raise awareness for children around school and the general public. We hope to take many assemblies on eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia.”

Millie Wilde, subject leader for Health and Social Care, said: “It is crucial that young people learn about the importance of mental health care, not only for themselves but for their whole communities.

“All my classes have joined in the project making cards and wrapping small gifts to send and have all really benefited from thinking about what can happen in people’s lives.”