Children, wellbeing, and libraries: an expert-led discussion

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A panel of experts will discuss the impact of the pandemic on children’s wellbeing and how public libraries could support recovery.

About this Event

Education, primary care, and mental health experts discuss the impact of the pandemic on children’s wellbeing and how public libraries could support recovery.

The need for action:

Research indicates that over a third of parents of children aged 4-11 (34%) worry about their child’s mental health at least once a week, and these worries appear well placed as almost two thirds (60%) of children aged 8-11 say they feel stressed, sad or worried at least once a month. Childline has delivered almost 7,000 counselling sessions with children about the impact of coronavirus outbreak and a survey of nearly 1,000 frontline workers supporting families living in poverty found that the vast majority reported a significant deterioration in children’s emotional health and wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown.


This event is a partnership between The Reading Agency and Libraries Connected.

It will feature:

• Megan Dixon from The Aspirer Teaching Alliance highlighting the impact of school closures and return to school on children’s mental health

• GP Claire Etherington looking at the children’s mental health landscape in primary care and the impact of Covid-19 and GPs commitment to social prescribing, community-based health provision and the support that public library and schemes can offer to health professionals as a value-added service

• Dr Rina Bajaj from the Anna Freud Centre. Rina is head of Training for the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Programme at the Anna Freud Centre. Her clinical background is as a counselling psychologist

The webinar will be chaired by Debbie Hicks MBE, Creative Director of The Reading Agency who has led the development of the national Reading Well programme, along with Sue Ball MBE, Lead of the Public Libraries Universal Health Offer Group and Sarah Mears MBE Programme Manager Libraries Connected.

If you have questions for our speakers, please email them in advance to as these may get missed in the online chat.

Details of how to join on Zoom will be emailed to you at 16.00 on the 21st of October once booking has closed.

Speaker Biographies:

Dr Rina Bajaj: Head of Training - Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools at the Anna Freud Centre

Rina is a Counselling Psychologist who has been working within the field of mental health since 2004. Rina has a diverse experience of working with children, adolescents and adults from a range of backgrounds. She has worked within the NHS, statutory organisations, the corporate world and the voluntary sector. In her role at the AFNCCF, Rina has delivered training to school professionals for nearly two years across England. She has been instrumental to developing and delivering schools-based interventions through the AFNCCF’s Schools in Mind network.

Megan Dixon: Head Teacher of Sandbach Primary Academy

Megan is an experienced education professional and is the co-director of Aspirer Research School, as well as the Head Teacher of Sandbach Primary Academy. Megan has a Masters in Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties and previously worked as a Senior Associate of the Education Endowment Foundation. She is a columnist for the Times Educational Supplement and other publications.

Dr Clare Etherington, GP

Dr Clare Etherington is Director of Primary Care Education for Health Education England - North West London and a GP in Harrow, North London. She has advised on the Reading Well for children scheme in libraries.

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