A dedicated ‘Calm Zone’ has been officially opened at Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy where students can access support relating to mental health.

The room has been decorated and furnished and will be open at lunchtimes for any student who needs help.

Student anti-stigma champions, who have received specialist training, will be on hand to offer support and can refer any serious issues to staff members.

Donations to help refurbish the room came from Ikea and students raised money towards the cost by holding various fund-raising events in school.

Jo Birkin, achievement mentor at OIEA, said the ‘Calm Zone’ would be a great addition to the school.

She said: “We will be organising a rota for the Calm Zone but it will be open at break and lunchtimes from Tuesday to Friday and will operate on a drop-in basis. Students can choose to access the room themselves and we will also direct students there who we think could benefit.

“We hope that this will be a place where students who perhaps feel they don’t want to talk about any issues to staff, or even their parents, can come and talk to fellow students from their own age group.

“If anything arises that the anti-stigma champions feel staff need to handle they can give staff a notice of concern and we will follow it up.”

Two students from each year group have been appointed as anti-stigma champions and so far they have carried out assemblies in school talking about mental health, met with the academy’s Senior Leadership Team to discuss their ideas, organised a poster competition and come up with the idea for the ‘Calm Zone’.

Kayleigh Whitehead, 15, is an anti-stigma champion.

She said: “We wanted this to be a place where students could feel comfortable. I think it looks great and we definitely achieved what we set out to achieve.”

Nia Salt, Principal at OIEA, said she was extremely proud of the students and staff involved in the project.

She said: “This has all been carried out with the students’ point of view in mind and it’s so important that their voices are heard. Students and staff have worked so hard and I’m confident that the ‘Calm Zone’ will be a great asset to our wonderful school.”

Helen Morland, chair of governors at OIEA, congratulated everyone involved in creating the ‘Calm Zone.’

She said: “I’m so impressed with what has been achieved and we would like to thank everyone who had donated items or money which has enable the ‘Calm Zone’ to be created.”

Louise Craven, Safeguarding Officer at OIEA, said this was just the beginning of what the school would like to achieve in relation to mental health.

She said: “This is just the first step towards making mental health acceptable in schools and we hope that at some point in the future the ‘Calm Zone’ will also be a place that parents can come and talk too.”


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