Council urged to act to help improve children’s wellbeing post-COVID

Improving children’s wellbeing should be a top priority following the unprecedented challenges of the past year, say the Conservative councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The Conservative Group has tabled a motion calling on the authority to act to ensure children across the district are given the help they need to begin to get back to normal over the next few months.

The motion, which will be debated and voted on at a meeting of the Full Council on Thursday 25 March, calls for the Council to organise a special online symposium to discuss strategies to help parents and children in B&NES overcome the challenges of the pandemic.

Local groups, charities, schools, parents, cultural organisations and educational experts would all be invited to attend in a bid to bring the best ideas to the fore.

In putting the motion together, the Conservative Group has recognised Bath BID’s (Business Improvement District) plans to run a ‘Summer Sundays’ programme from June to August to improve children’s wellbeing.

The BID programme will see various family activities take place in local parks and the city centre, and the B&NES Conservatives are calling on the Council to encourage similar efforts to support children and parents across Bath and North East Somerset this summer.

Cllr Vic Pritchard, the B&NES Conservative councillor who will table the motion, and ward member for the Chew Valley, said: “The past twelve months have posed numerous challenges for people of all ages right across B&NES. It is particularly important, however, that we understand the impacts of the pandemic, and the closure of schools, on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

“Children have been isolated from their friends and have had to adapt to home learning at what is a formative time for their development. As we slowly begin to emerge from lockdown restrictions, we must seek to understand children’s experiences and how we can best support them to return to normality.

“Events such as those organised by Bath BID could have hugely positive impacts on children, young people and their parents, and we think there is scope for the Council to organise something similar with input from various stakeholders.

“We hope the Liberal Democrat Administration will see the merits of this proposal and will vote with us at Council next week.”

Local mother-of-three Kari Erickson has backed the Conservative Group’s call for an online symposium.

Kari said: “As a mum myself, I have seen first-hand how difficult the past 12 months have been for children. Parents who have been working from home while trying to ensure their children do not fall behind in their education have, for sure, done a marvellous job.

“It is, however, vital that the Council does all it possibly can to help parents and children get back to normality. Public activities, indoors and outside, over the summer would go a long way to improving the mental and physical wellbeing of the whole family.

“The online symposium, as called for by the Conservative Group, is a great way to gather the best ideas and ensure they are put into action.”