Today (30 July 2021) is the UN International Day of Friendship, which highlights the importance of feeling connected to others, and that forming bonds with others can help us to overcome personal challenges. To raise awareness of this important day, Children’s Health Scotland’s Ambassador and children’s television presenter, Rory Crawford, joined us on social media for another #StoryWithRory.
For this special day Rory read “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig, with illustrations by Patrice Barton (published by Random House Children’s Books, 2013). This wonderful book tells the story of Brian, a young boy who feels lonely and isolated from the other children in his class. Brian feels particularly nervous at lunch time, where he struggles to make friends and to know where to sit – so he uses his imagination to escape by drawing amazing pictures. When a new boy Justin arrives, and is laughed at by the other children, only Brian knows how to help. Through the kindness of Brian’s actions this story highlights the importance of friendship and how being kind to others can benefit us all.
Encouraging and fostering new friendships and connections is essential to the services we deliver at Children’s Health Scotland. We know that many children and young people with long-term health conditions can experience loneliness and isolation. Our Self-Management Service (SMS) aims to tackle this issue by providing the children and young people who take part in our Programmes with the opportunity to interact with peers who have been through similar challenges and experiences.
After completing one of our 6-week group Programmes, SMS:F2F or SMS:CONNECT, participants are invited to join the SMS:HUB – a monthly online session where they can stay in touch, access continued support, and develop skills to better manage their health and wellbeing. Many of the young people who have taken part in our Self-Management Service say that “it is good… to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way and that there are others who are going through kind of the same thing”.
Izzie Turley, Children’s Health and Wellbeing Services Coordinator said,
Our Self-Management Service (SMS) is about boosting confidence and self-esteem in children and young people so that they feel better able to cope with, and manage, their health and wellbeing. Encouraging young people to share their experiences with each other is essential to this, as it allows them to improve their communication skills and support each other. Our SMS:HUB allows these connections to continue after the 6-week Programmes have ended, with many of our participants forming real-life friendships and staying in touch out with the organised sessions.
Rona (age 14), who completed an SMS:CONNECT Programme and regularly attends SMS:HUB sessions said,
SMS:CONNECT was a real lifeline when I was very isolated and new to having lots of health problems along with a chronic health condition. As the weeks went on I got more confident with talking and sharing. The SMS:HUB meetings are now every month and I never want to miss one so it goes straight on my calendar! I have a connection with people in the group because we all have health conditions and been through tough times. Thank you SMS!
To find out more information about our online SMS:CONNECT Programme, and our in-person Self-Management Service, SMS:F2F, for children and young people living in the Lothian area, visit the services section of our website, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org