Therapy Room at Church End Image supplied by Marston Moreteyne VC Lower School

Group raising funds for designated therapy room at Forest End

Children’s mental health and well-being is a national priority. Many schools are working on strategies to ensure that their children’s needs are met before any issues can develop further. To help with this, Marston Moreteyne VC Lower School has a designated therapy room at its Church End Site.

This enables individuals and groups of children to work on a structured programme to develop their resilience, confidence, co-operation and social interaction as well as their general well-being.

The Heart of Marston was set up to raise money to provide specialist equipment and materials needed to furnish a therapy room at the school’s Forest End site as well as specialist staff training.

The goal was to raise £11,500 by hosting a series of events between 18 October 2019 and 17 October 2020.

Unfortunately, the COVID lockdown meant that the group had to cancel a lot of fundraising events including after-school craft, Saturday morning craft, a family fun day, cake sale, non-school uniform day, sponsored 5k inflatable assault course, and a music concert.

Katrina Widdicks, a spokesperson for The Heart of Marston, said:

“We’d hoped that through these and what we’d already done, that we’d have raised our full target within the year. But we are still committed to raising the amount needed for the therapy space and specialist staff training.”

Lockdown care packages

During lockdown, The Heart of Marston adapted its support by distributing care packages to children. The packages contained items such as homemade playdoh, homemade moon sand, biscuits to decorate, toys, activity books, orbeez, and sweets. Katrina said:

“We gave out around 75 care packages a month, to children from the school who we felt would most benefit from it.

“We felt that although that wasn’t what we’d originally been raising money for, that it was an important thing to do, given the extraordinary circumstances.”

Although the group has had to cancel events over the summer, it has found other ways to raise money. It has had raffle prizes from local businesses and there are collection pots at the Post Office, pub, butchers and the Bedford Road Co-op.

The group’s determination and hard work has meant that it has raised £3,509.51.

It has also been successful in applying for grants. It has received £2,000 from The Forest of Marston Vale Community Fund and £1,500 from the Central Bedfordshire Ward Councillor Grant Scheme.

“With the money from the two grants, we’ve covered the cost to provide, furnish and equip the therapy space.

“We’ve also raised enough money for one member of staff to become fully qualified as a therapist, providing bespoke counselling and we’re about a quarter of our way to a second member of staff.

“In round figures, we’re looking to raise another £5,500 which will then mean there are four qualified staff, two at each site.”

With its own trained staff, the school will be able to offer support on a long-term basis without the need to hire outside support. With two fully resourced rooms and trained staff, the school will be able to support approximately 150 children each year.

The Heart of Marston has also set up a Just Giving page to help continue to raise funds while it is unable to hold public events.

You can also keep up to date on fundraising activities by following The Heart of Marston on Facebook