‘It’s a struggle’ – the role of the school Health and Well-being Lead in supporting families in poverty

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Sandra Lyndon University of Chichester, UK

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Carla Solvason University of Worcester, UK

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Rebecca Webb University of Sussex, UK

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This article explores one primary school’s response to addressing poverty experienced by children and families, within a post-Covid context. It draws on a small-scale qualitative case study exploring the role of the Health and Well-being Lead (HWBL) in a primary school in a relatively affluent market town in the south-east of England. A psychoanalytical approach was taken to understand the data drawing on the researchers different situated experiences and knowledges. Participants included children, parents and staff at the school. All parent participants shared their financial challenges, which they referred to as ‘struggles’, with many relating to the impact of the cost of living and adverse unexpected events. Staff raised concerns about how cuts to support services and funding for schools had contributed to and exacerbated challenges due to long waiting lists and a lack of early intervention. The role of the HWBL was recognised by both parents and staff as an important resource within the school. Integral to this role was a non-judgemental and empathic approach, which created an open and trusting relationship with parents. Despite the apparent success of the role, it was evident that the workload and the increase in ‘struggles’ experienced by families was having an impact on both the HWBL and other staff. While we acknowledge that such a role could benefit other schools, we argue that this will only be successful and sustainable if the government also addresses the need for early intervention, funding and the workload crisis in children’s services and schools.

Sandra Lyndon University of Chichester, UK

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Carla Solvason University of Worcester, UK

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Rebecca Webb University of Sussex, UK

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