Researching Emotional Health and Wellbeing for Vulnerable Children

Published: 21 Dec 2016

Author: Sophie Cobb
Researching Emotional Health and Wellbeing for Vulnerable Children

Sophie Cobb is an Assistant Headteacher from Briarwood School in Bristol where she works with children and young people with severe learning disabilities. She has recently returned from six weeks researching wellbeing interventions for vulnerable children in Canada and the USA. Her travels were funded by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Award, in partnership with the Mercers’ Company.

There are an increasing number of children with learning difficulties facing mental health issues which significantly impact their attainment and wellbeing. It is important that meaningful and bespoke interventions are developed to meet their needs. Innovative approaches in Canada and the USA have focused on making strategic changes, introducing collaborative working and developing programmes to support the most vulnerable.

During her travels, Sophie visited a range of professionals, working in schools and other organisations, who are dedicated to providing wellbeing support. She had the opportunity to meet with four District School Boards to learn about their organisational models and frameworks for delivering wellbeing support into schools.

Sophie was impressed with the efforts that had been made to reduce the stigma around mental health and wellbeing as well as the commitment from all the organisations to work with communities as a whole to tackle this issue. This stood out as a key element in supporting the wellbeing process for vulnerable children.

Sophie also had the opportunity to visit a range of mental health centers supporting children and families in the community. One of the highlights was taking part in an inspirational Mindfulness Martial Arts session run by the Integra Programme in Toronto.

“During the Fellowship the main themes that have come to light are the importance of developing trusting relationships, working in partnerships with families and professionals, developing a robust framework for delivery and carefully constructing a communication plan. The Fellowship has been such a valuable experience and it has enabled me to grow both professionally and personally”- Sophie Cobb

Having returned to the UK, Sophie aims to share her research and experiences with professionals and organisations working in Bristol and the South West. She has been invited to run a workshop at the South West Association for Leaders in Special Schools in March 2017 and to share her findings at the Bristol Emotional Health and Wellbeing Working Group in January 2017.

Notes to Editors

Contact: [email protected]

Read Sophie’s blog:

The Mercers’ Company

The Mercers’ Company ( have jointly funded 10 Fellowships a year from 2013-2015, to develop linked projects to improve the educational achievement of young people aged 5-19, with particular emphasis on English, Maths, Science and Technology. The Mercers’ Company is closely involved with the running of 17 schools across the country and makes a number of grants to improve the availability and quality of education for children and young adults, focused on young people from the ages of 5-25.