THE Home and Hospital Tuition Service, which provides education for children who are too ill to attend school, has been presented with a cheque for £1,000 thanks to the Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children’s Fund.

The money will be used to purchase new computer software which can aid stress reduction in children.

Tutor Karen Wood, who as Karen Robson was a contemporary of Frank Dunnery when they both attended Wyndham School, applied to the fund on behalf of the service which, she says, is not widely known about.

“Our service is here to look after children who are between learning. They may have been in hospital and are starting back at school. They may have had a broken leg, a medical illness or have mental health problems.

“This innovative software can assess a pupil’s anxiety levels and help to calm them down with music, pictures and soothing sounds.’’

Children are usually allocated five hours a week, unless for some reason, such as GCSEs, they should have more.

There are 30 children in West Cumbria using the service, half of them have physical problems, half mental, and seven of them are teenage pregnancies. The service is provided by one full-time and one part-time teacher and a teaching assistant. Supply teachers are brought in when the demand rises.

Karen teaches two Egremont children currently: Orgill pupil Cleo Rimmer, six, who suffers from leukaemia, and 15-year-old Cara Wild, from Wyndham, who is taking her GCSEs.

Children either receive tuition in hospital, at home or attend the West Cumbria Learning Centre at Distington which can help them with the socialising aspect of their recovery. Other county centres are at Kendal, Barrow and Carlisle.

Karen said: “We heard about the software, which is called Heartmath, from the behaviour team at the centre, who told us how effective it had been with their pupils. A sensor is attached on to the pupil’s finger or ear and it assesses their level of anxiety by checking sweating and heart rate (this is not always apparent from their external demeanour), then it can help to calm them down.

“We are absolutely thrilled to get this money,’’ she said.

The Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children’s Fund was formed in 2002 by founding member Francis Dunnery, in memory of his parents. The charity raises money for children’s health, wellbeing and educational needs in and around the family’s hometown of Egremont.

Published in The Whitehaven News

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