Published on
20 May 2020

Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland launch new film during Mental Health Awareness Week to highlight the importance of relationships in supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing in Education

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week – 18-24 May children’s charity, Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland today, 20 May 2020, launched a new film for everyone involved in educating children and young people – ‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’.

The film, a collaboration between Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland, highlights practical examples and tips that education staff can build into their everyday practice to support positive relationships with young people. Relationships between staff and pupils will be even more important as considerations are made about when to reopen schools following the Covid-19 lockdown, now more than ever, education environments which are relational and trauma-sensitive will be crucial.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:  “Children's mental, emotional and physical wellbeing are the foundations of successful learning. I welcome this video demonstrating the innovative ways schools and others are helping improve young people’s health and wellbeing with the support of Attainment Scotland Funding.

“The positive relationships highlighted in the film will be crucial in supporting children and families once schools return. We are providing schools with Attainment Scotland funding flexibility to help best support the education, health and wellbeing and care of children and young people during the response to the Covid-19 and beyond.

“We know that during this difficult time the mental health of pupils can be put under great strain. Our Clear Your Head campaign looks to ensure the right help and support is in place and through this we have provided funding to Young Scot to develop online mental health resources. We are also working with the Spark organisation to deliver counselling services for children and young people throughout this challenging period.”

Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland believe good quality relationships are vital for wellbeing, growth and health; especially when a child has experienced adversity or trauma. Education staff have the power to create and foster a culture of warmth, nurture, kindness and positive relationships within their environments. 

‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’ originated when Barnardo’s Scotland staff working in schools notice that those working in Education were becoming more aware of the impact of childhood adversity and trauma through training and awareness raising, but many were looking for practical advice about how to bring this to life in their everyday practice.

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Relationships are key to creating safe, nurturing environments which help support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are all dealing with the immediate impact of COVID-19 and we must focus on emotional support to enable our children to cope with the present challenges and build their resilience for the future.

“So, although this film was developed before the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more relevant than ever. This crisis is impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of our entire population; we are seeing high levels of individual and community trauma. It is imperative that when children return to school we prioritise their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“There has been fantastic work going on in schools across Scotland prior to the pandemic to place relationships at the heart of children’s educational experiences. When children and young people return to school this will be even more vital.  We hope this film will support and encourage good practice and help all those working in Education to think about how strong, positive relationships can support good mental health in our children and young people.”

The film was shown for the first time during an online Webinar on 20 May with a panel of guest speakers including trainer and author Lisa Cherry. The film is now available (embargo 1600) to view online on Barnardo’s You Tube Channel and at

Lisa Cherry, leading international trainer and consultant, specialising in assisting professionals working with vulnerable children and families said: "We are faced with a real opportunity, right now, to ensure that at the heart of our schools the whole school community can find safety, belonging and connection in the face of loss, anxiety and uncertainty. High quality relationships provided by staff who work in settings where their own wellbeing and nurturing is at the core, will ensure that children can emerge from this pandemic from a place of adversarial growth. That schools do not add to harm but rather seek to heal from it, ought to be a mantra that we can all anchor ourselves to." 

Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland would encourage schools and all education staff involved with children and young people to watch and use the new resource as part of training and Continual Professional Development.

Key concepts within the film such as building strong relationships; creating a safe environment and a positive culture; and supporting staff health and wellbeing will be absolutely crucial to ensure children and young people have a positive transition back into Education settings when schools begin to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.


Notes to Editors:

The webinar will be available to view once it finishes on 20th May.

The film and accompanying film notes are intended for use by all Education staff: senior leaders, teachers, support staff, janitorial, catering and secretarial staff, and can be used in a variety of ways including as a stand-alone resource; as part of training relating to children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing or as a template to produce specific training to fit schools / learning community’s needs.

Lisa Cherry is a leading international trainer and consultant, specialising in assisting professionals working with vulnerable children and families. She brings nearly 30 years of working in education and social care settings and a 29-year journey of personal recovery overcoming her own experiences of being in care and all that that brought with it. Lisa works with vulnerable children and their families, in educational settings, within the criminal justice system and through fostering and adoption.  Her mission is to provide accessible, scientifically grounded knowledge and information to all those working with and around trauma, resilience and recovery.

Teacher Eireann McAuley – Stirling Councilon school, Covid-19 and relationships

“For thousands of children and young people - School is their only safe haven, and teachers are the only stable and positive adult in their life. COVID-19 has further exposed how vital educational settings are in supporting our children and young people and the life-changing impact teachers can have.

I know that I would not be here today if it was not for my own teachers. They helped me to overcome adversity and were more than 'just teachers'. They were the only people I could depend on - they became like my family.

The importance of relationships and the themes of this film have always been so important but even more so now. Relational, trauma-informed approaches in Education are the cornerstone of building a fairer and more just world. Every child and young person deserves a champion in their life and the opportunity to thrive - that starts with relationships.”

Barnardo’s Scotland work with more than 16,300 children and young people in over 140 specialised community-based services and 95 shops across Scotland.  We believe in children and we believe every young person has a right to thrive. Our vision is to realise Thomas Barnardo’s dream of a world where no child is turned away from the help that they need. Our work includes: fostering and adoption services and support; helping children break free from sexual exploitation; supporting young people leaving care; helping young people in to employment and helping children living in poverty. 

Visit to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children. 

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is the new lead national agency for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of all of Scotland’s people.

  • PHS brings together NHS Health Scotland (NHSHS), Information Services Division (ISD) and Health Protection Scotland (HPS) from Public Health Intelligence (PHI) within NHS National Services Scotland (NSS).
  • Its vision is of a Scotland where everybody thrives.  It will focus on increasing healthy life expectancy and reducing premature mortality.  To do this it will use data, intelligence and a place based approach to lead and deliver Scotland’s public health priorities.


Media enquiries: Barnardo’s Scotland Katrina Slater Media & Communications Manager – 0131 446 7022 or 0208 498 7555 (24 hours), [email protected]

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