Last Monday I travelled to Flintshire in North Wales to meet with Gunars Grinvalds from CAMHS Early Intervention Service. Gunars first contacted FirstSigns after trawling the internet for information on self-harm, as he was putting together a presentation on the subject for the teachers of all secondary schools in Flintshire. He happily told me that after days of searching, FirstSigns was the only website he found that contained all the information he needed, presented in a suitable manner.

Gunars was particularly impressed by our Fact Sheets and our ‘Creating a school self-injury policy’ document. He asked us for permission to have the Fact Sheet for Teachers printed professionally and handed out at all his presentations. We were, of course, only too happy to agree, and I was subsequently invited to attend one of the presentations to see first-hand how our work has been utilised.

Gunars met me from the train, and with a little time to spare we enjoyed a relaxing coffee by the canal in Chester, before heading off to St David’s High School in Flintshire. Here I met Ann Jones from Behaviour Support Services who co-presented with Gunars. The presentation was attended by approximately 40 teachers and was of an excellent standard; I realised straight away why FirstSigns had proved so popular with Gunars, as the information he presented was very much in line with our own ethos.

Afterwards there was time for the three of us to have a chat about the presentation and for Gunars and Ann to ask me questions. They have requested permission for the Fact Sheet to be translated into Welsh, and have agreed to let FirstSigns have a copy of the translation for our own website. They have also requested the use of all our other Fact Sheets for handout to students and their families, and they too will eventually be translated into Welsh.

The next stage for Gunars and his team is to set about implementing their School Self-Harm Policy, and for this they will be using our guidance document. The next round of presentations will be to the specific staff from each school who will be responsible for dealing with self-harm.

It was fantastic to meet Gunars and Ann, and to see how beneficial the hard work of FirstSigns has been to them. It’s always great to see schools taking an interest and responsibility for self-harm among their students, but to see efforts on such a great scale was truly amazing.

I would like to thank Gunars for taking such good care of me during my visit and I wish him and Ann well as they continue their project. We’ll certainly be keeping in touch, and I look forward to seeing how things develop over the coming months.

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