Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the side effects of lockdown has been the huge pressure on the mental health of our children. Charities like the NSPCC and its Childline service have counselled thousands of children struggling to cope with the current situation. At the same time, schools are trying to find ways to help children continue their learning whilst at home. An unlikely celebrity pairing and a new initiative with a friendly fox at the helm should help with both issues.
Best known for his 17 years hosting BBC TV property auction show Homes under the Hammer, Martin Roberts is also an established children’s book author.
Martin has enlisted the support of legendary children’s entertainer and all round good fox, Basil Brush, to create a charming narrated and partially animated version of Sadsville, a magical and whimsical illustrated book from his ‘Herman and the Magical Bus to The Villes’ series. The recording has just been released on YouTube for general viewing, and is also being sent out with an accompanying home study pack FREE to all primary schools in the UK, with a view to them passing it on to their pupils.
Roberts wrote Sadsville in support of the invaluable work of the NSPCC and Childline. It contains an emotional well-being self-help guide and details of how to contact Childline. It forms part of the campaign to help children’s mental well-being that is the mainstay of the author’s own charity The Martin Roberts Foundation (reg no 1172905) which aims to give a free copy of the physical book to every child in year 4 (8 & 9 year olds) in the UK. So far over 30,000 books have been distributed, with more to come.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC says: “Currently, we are hearing from children in their thousands who have been cut off from vital support networks such as school and friends, and that has increased their feelings of loneliness and vulnerability. However, there are many more out there who are suffering in silence, which is why we are doing all we can to let children know we are still here for them.
“Using Basil Brush to narrate Sadsville is a unique and entertaining approach to letting even more children know how they can contact Childline if things are tough, and I am confident it will be very successful.”
Martin Roberts comments: “I have my own kids aged 10 and 13 so I understand the pressures that lockdown has put on young people.
“The Villes is a series of magical and whimsical books aimed at children aged 6 to 10. In Windyville it’s always windy, in Tiredsville everyone is always tired, in Latesville everyone is always late, in Sadsville everyone is always sad… and so on… and the reader has to work out why.
“The books in general encourage problem solving and fire the imagination in readers of all ages. Sadsville in particular encourages children to question their own emotions and ‘think outside the box’ as to why they may be struggling with unhappiness. It helps them find ways to feel happier and to reach out for support if they need it.”
Basil Brush says: “It was a booming pleasure to be part of Mr Martin’s wonderful book, to read his lovely story and help the NSPCC and their Childline service at the same time. The illustrations are perfect, but for some reason I felt peckish at the end – you’ll know why when you read it. It might even bring a tear to your eye …”
Basil Brush reading Sadsville and the accompanying FREE Home Study Pack and Teachers Resources can be found on http://www.martinrobertsfoundation.org.uk