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Working with HEE and the NHS Trust – health and school librarians in collaboration

In one of my previous blogs, I updated developments around the Campaign and health education and mentioned that I had attended a CILIP/Health Education England (HEE) round table. Following this, I have been in discussion with colleagues working for HEE (SW and SE) as well as Berkshire NHS Trust and one of the things we talked about was collaboration between health and school librarians.

Health librarians create a wide range of resources aimed at young people and their parents/carers yet often they are only shared with SENCOs in schools and do not reach other staff who could make use of them, including librarians. And yet school librarians work with all students within a school, providing reliable and trusted resources, and support, on a wide range of health issues. They also work in partnership with teachers delivering the PHSE curriculum.

Following these discussions, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Berkshire Healthcare have joined together to pilot a Health Literacy project which looks at the health and wellbeing of 16 – 18 year olds and I was delighted to be able to facilitate the involvement of the School Library Association (SLA) Berkshire branch.

The pilot is looking to undertake a user journey mapping to understanding how young people aged 16-18 currently access health information. It will then pull together relevant resources to enable young people to be signposted to appropriate resources to make good health decisions. On top of this, it will also add resources which librarians, teachers, school nurses and pastoral leads may find useful.

It is anticipated that some health literacy workshops could be delivered online to both students and staff, and there will be pre and post surveys at the start of the pilot as well as after the training. The organisers would like to have a class involved in the surveys and training, in addition to speaking to the school librarian and staff members for each year group to understand what support they may offer in terms of resources and signposting.

The pilot will take place over the next 4 months. A report will be written up for HEE and, if the pilot is successful, it is hoped that it can be rolled out across Berkshire and more widely within schools and further education colleges.

The organisers are inviting schools/colleges to get involved. As a member of the SLA Berkshire branch – and previous Chair for many years – I know how active and enthusiastic my colleagues are and so are likely to offer assistance with this but if you are a school librarian in Berkshire and not a member of the SLA (so haven’t received the email invitation), and would like to be considered for this exciting project please contact (by 27 November 2020):

Barbara Moye Library and Knowledge Services Manager Berkshire Healthcare NHS FT

This is an exciting step forward and I will certainly share the report when it’s published. What excites me more is that this will create another means of getting resources to the people who need them.

Collaboration brings mutual benefits to all parties, enabling an exchange and sharing of ideas as well as co-operation and involvement with projects. The Campaign is UK-wide – if you are a health librarian and think there is scope for doing something similar in your location with local school librarians, then I’m sure Barbara Moye would be happy to give you further details. And I know school librarians would be only too happy to help …

Barbara Band GSL Campaign - Joint Vice Chair

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