Kindness holds key as children sing out anti-bullying message

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Encouraging children to be kind and help each other will be the focus for anti-bullying week in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (GHLL) has joined up with the Songwriting Charity to run 18 workshops in schools throughout the county in November. More than 500 children from 17 primary schools and one secondary school will be involved in producing their own songs and videos.

The aim of the workshops is to encourage young people to be kind to each other, promote positive behaviour and to raise confidence levels. The main activity will be focused around anti-bullying week, which runs from November 18th to 22nd.

Young people in school are being supported to write, rehearse and record an original song and video which will be uploaded to the Songwriting Charity website on the same day. It is free for the children to download and schools can use the songs for presentations and assemblies or for use in their communities.

The schools will also be encouraged to use ‘Bottles of Kindness’ to help young people record their acts of kindness and see the impact of the choices they make. Lessons plans will be provided to support this.

The first workshop ran at Gotherington Primary School on November 12th and this is the song that the Year Four pupils produced: https://soundcloud.com/the-songwriting-charity/sets/something-kind The video is at http://youtu.be/qopL9K-0fQY

The other primary schools taking part in November are St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary, Tibberton, Gretton, The John Moore, Picklenash, Queen Margaret Primary in Tewkesbury, Staunton and Corse and Highnam. The secondary school taking part is Newent Community School. Other schools will be booked in for December.

The focus is on schools in the most rural parts of Gloucestershire, ensuring those with least access to the arts are given new opportunities to participate.

Cllr Dorcas Binns, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said: “We know from the Online Pupil Survey that an increasing number of young people feel confident in how their school deals with bullying but it’s vital that we keep up the good work.

“We are always looking for new ways to help our schools to tackle bullying and encourage positive behaviour. Workshops like these can be really effective in giving young people the confidence to look out for one another and to raise awareness of where they can turn if they need support.”

The Songwriting Charity offers one-day workshops and performance programmes that provide children with opportunities to sing, write lyrics, perform and record their ideas individually and as a team – evaluating their progress and supporting them to help their friends.

Ben O’Sullivan, Director of Programmes at the Songwriting Charity, said: “This year’s programme will encourage acts of kindness through songwriting, giving kindness the reputation it deserves, as well as leaving the legacy of an original song for all the schools that take part.

“In a safe and supportive environment, we can inspire young people to work together to keep each other safe, to promote positive behaviours and build self-confidence.”

You can find out more about the songwriting charity and see and hear last year’s anti-bullying songs from Gloucestershire schools at www.songwritingcharity.org

The ‘Something Kind’ programme is being supported by The Summerfield Charitable Trust and GHLL. A detailed evaluation of the workshops is also being carried out as part of the programme and the school will be able to use this and evidence from the workshop as part of their application for the GHLL award *

Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (GHLL) is funded by Gloucestershire County Council Public Health. It provides targeted support to schools to tackle areas they want to focus on improving. This could range from helping ensure more of their pupils eat breakfast to increasing opportunities to be active or improving support to pupils affected by bullying.

When schools apply to become a GHLL Healthy School, their form will be pre-filled with what their pupils have told us in the Online Pupil Survey. As well as saving them time filling in forms, this will mean that pupils’ views are listened to and acted upon.

Schools will need to identify two key areas for improvement – one of which needs to focus on a vulnerable group of pupils. Targeted intervention and support to tackle these priorities will then be provided free to schools by a group of leading teachers. Additional expertise could also be provided by Public Health and other county council staff.

Gloucestershire was the first county to take this targeted approach, which will ensure that the right support gets to the most vulnerable children, helping them to do better at school.

Published: 14 November 2013

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I get by with a little help from my friends

Can’t believe how much time has passed since our last entry! Apologies for neglecting you and our blog! We have a whole range of very good excuses! Honest Miss!

For the last few months, we’ve been stunned by the heartfelt, overwhelmingly positive and congratulatory responses received since we started telling people about our songwriting charity. Much of this does come down to the fact that we have our very own superhero in the guise of NT at our core. The other reason could also be because there has been so much negativity in the media about how morally lapsed we are as a society, that we (the Songwriting Charity) feel it is incumbent on us to attempt to bring some cheer and present an alternative approach to helping members of society, in particular children and young people, to find healthy, stimulating and creative ways to express themselves, to learn and to be enthused. Songwriting is the new black!

Charities everywhere are faced with having to ask for more from those that may have considerably less to give. We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know of course, but here at the Songwriting Charity, we’ve got to get motoring and shift it into gear. We’ve got to think hard about the quality of the services we provide for the charity’s beneficiaries. We have to evidence ‘value for money’ for funders or commissioners, and always be mindful of the manner in which we present ourselves to stakeholders and partners. We’ve spent a long time listening to our partner schools and understanding what they want and according to them, it’s unanimous, we’ve given them what they asked for and needed. With that ringing endorsement giving us that extra boost needed during a very negative, uncertain and depressed macro-economic climate, our attention turns once again to the bigger picture and how we survive as the new charity kid on the block.

Tough economic conditions just make it harder not impossible for us at NTF HQ. There are many opportunities out there, we just need to dig a little deeper and have a few more conversations with people. Yes, it’s speculation, but it’s also about us seeking to work with likeminded people and companies. If we don’t ask, we don’t get!

So today, over Skype, we shared some moments of genius! Actually, the genius moment came via SMS to me from our in-house superhero. Membership and Friends. A little cryptic at this stage, but we do already allude to such schemes on our website.  However, in exploring this in much more detail, we recognized that our very young charity has so much to offer both. Brimming with new ideas, such as ‘pick’n’mix’, seminars and more, we reverted to pen and paper and jotted down as many of these as possible; silly really as we’ll only have to type them up and email them to each other later! The future is most definitely bright and for our friends out there, all we need to do is to have the aforementioned conversations with as many of you as possible and share our ideas with you over coffee and a pastry at a time and place to suit.

There’s already healthy and reassuring interest in our Corporate Friends scheme. The reassurance is important because it means there are companies out there that believe in us and share in our vision and purpose. It means we have that all important ‘emotional’ connection with a sponsor, not merely because we’re a children’s charity, but because the way in which we engage with children and young people means something to them; they absolutely get it, like we do!

You’ll see a few changes to our Get Involved section of our website in the coming weeks. We’ll be fleshing out our membership and friends schemes and inviting interested individuals, schools and companies of all sizes to take a stake in our work and play their part in addressing the emotional health and wellbeing of children using songwriting and music technology. We’re confident that in the days to come, we’ll be able to proudly introduce you to some of our new Corporate Friends.

We’re midway through another important week and tomorrow see’s a very significant Songwriting Charity foray into the corporate world. Watch this space.

One song – one day – with the world’s #1 songwriting charity – thank you and good night!