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College commended for wellbeing and mental health support during Covid lockdown

Wide-ranging support for students at New City College, which includes the Havering Colleges, has been nationally recognised once again.

The college has reached AoC Beacon Standard and Commended Status in recognition of its highly effective and innovative response to the increased mental, wellbeing and anxiety issues of students, staff and the wider community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

New City College is the only further education college in the London region to have achieved this status in 2020.

The pandemic and the resulting lockdown in Spring 2020 stopped all business as usual in its tracks. It tested the creativity and flexibility of all organisations, including colleges. However, New City College reacted quickly, with carefully targeted activity to provide effective support.

A multi-level approach was established within days of the start of the lockdown and focused on the practical needs of the college’s student and staff population. New City College provided a network of support to those hardest hit by the pandemic and proactively reduced the development of longer term and more serious mental health and wellbeing issues. 

The college’s response included:

  • The establishment of a £200,000 NCC Hope Fund to provide extra financial support to those facing financial difficulty due to the pandemic
  • Early and effective triage of support requests through a central and responsive customer service contact centre
  • The quick adaptation of the college’s award-winning mental health professionals to respond to an increase in demand
  • An increased offer of counselling, including support out of term-time, and extending college professional counselling support to partner NHS staff.

New City College Group Principal and CEO Gerry McDonald said: “We are delighted that our work to support students in their learning and beyond at such a challenging time, has been recognised with a national commendation. I am proud of how our staff quickly and pro-actively responded to the impacts of lockdown, to adapt and increase support for students and their families.”

The Association of Colleges’ (AoC) Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year. They are awarded every year by the AoC to provide recognition for excellence and innovation, acknowledging the talents of staff at all levels.