24/08/2020 | Press releases

Supporting young patients through COVID-19

Young people receiving care from East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) have been sent seeds to help them look after their mental health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by trying their hand at gardening.

Youth worker Rachel Fletcher, who is based at Colchester Hospital, has sent the seeds to young people from across north Essex and east Suffolk during lockdown, while also keeping in touch remotely and sharing strategies to help those who were struggling to manage.

Rachel, who took up her post last year, said: “Gardening is known to improve mental health, so I decided to get in touch with local garden centres to see if there was anything they could do to help our young people during lockdown.

“I was very grateful to receive the seeds and have sent them to each young person I work with to encourage them to get outside and watch something they have planted grow and thrive. I’ve also invited them to share their experience of growing the seeds on the youth service’s social media platforms to inspire others to follow their lead.”

Rachel offers one-to-one support to young people aged between 11 and 19 who come into the paediatric ED or have long-term health conditions. She has accepted 61 referrals since November, offering help with everything from building confidence and self-esteem to safeguarding emotional health and accessing education.

Feedback from the young people has been very positive, with one saying: “I found it very helpful as I know I can speak to the youth worker and get support, while she has also helped me with college.”

In addition, Rachel also runs a Youth Forum, which meets in the Children’s Outpatient’s Department at Colchester every eight weeks and provides feedback on different areas of the hospital and how they could be improved from a young person’s perspective.

The group has been well-received by young people, with one member saying: “The forum has enabled me to give back to the hospital that has done so much for me…It is amazing to be part of something so wonderful.”

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