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Swansea's primary schools sign up to The Exchange
Primary school pupils in Swansea are to get access to counsellors in school to help them deal with life and family problems.
Swansea Council has announced the The Exchange counselling service will be available at all its primary schools from September following the success of a pilot project.
It means children and young people aged from 10 to 25 in Swansea will have direct access to counselling to help them deal with the emotional and psychological impact of issues from family issues and bereavement to anger and bullying.
News of the expansion of the scheme was welcomed by the head teacher of Blaenymaes Primary School which was part of the primary pilot project.
Head teacher Bev Phillips said: "Exchange counselling has proved to be a very effective element of the wide range of services we offer our pupils.
"It quickly became an integral part of the way the school works to support children to achieve their full potential.
"Children and families tell us it has made a huge impact on the self esteem and confidence of the children who have been able to take part.”
Pupils will be able to access the service on a one-to-one basis or in groups if there is a particular issue such as a bereavement which affects a number of children.
Parents and families of younger children are briefed by the counsellor before the support begins so that they understand how it works and what to expect.
Cllr William Evans, the Council’s Cabinet member for Learning and Skills, said: "The Exchange has proved to be a vital listening ear offering practical advice and support for young people and I am delighted we are going to be able to offer it more widely.
"Counsellors can make all the difference to people who feel they have no-one else to turn to and now we are making sure that from the age of 10 our youngsters get that support when and where they need it.
"This is just one of the many developments that form Swansea’s Children and Young People’s plan. It reflects how partnership between council departments and external organisations can make life better for youngsters in this city.”
When the Council-funded counselling service was launched in 2009 at secondary schools as well as community venues in Swansea. It was the first face-to-face service of its kind in the UK.
Since then over 2000 young people have been helped with problems including low self-esteem, bullying, family issues, bereavement and coping with the move from primary to secondary school.
Kevin McGeever, The Exchange’s director, said: "This is a really positive development and it is excellent that the support service can be offered to all Year 6 and above pupils as well as young people throughout Swansea.
"Supporting children to resolve issues can have all sorts of benefits, including improving attendance at school, taking up new hobbies and interests and restoring self-confidence. As a teacher said to me, recently, it is easier to teach happier children.”