SCHOOLS across Torfaen opened their doors on June 29, welcoming children back for a truncated three-week term.

But some schools across the local authority remained open throughout lockdown for the children of key workers.

Torfaen council worked with schools and Torfaen Play Service to provide these children with support over the 14 weeks of lockdown.

40 playworkers, five sports development workers and 11 youth workers attended the six school hubs on a regular basis, offering a variety of play opportunities along with a familiar friendly face for the children.

Tyla McCarthy, 24, and Max Griffiths, 21, were just two of the playworkers to help out at school hubs throughout the lockdown.

Miss McCarthy said: “It has been very different to what we are used to, but the children adapted really well to social distancing rules.

“It was very strange at first and a couple of members of staff were apprehensive, but we had in our heads that we had a duty of care to the children.

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Torfaen playworker Tyla McCarthy. Picture: Torfaen Play Service.

“As a service, we did our utmost to ensure we were protecting the wellbeing of the children by using play as the key mechanism.

“We feel that play is such a vital tool for children’s emotional health and wellbeing.

“The children were amazing and adapted really well.”

Mr Griffiths said he had been apprehensive about working in the school hubs, but was soon put as ease.

"I kept reading the news about the virus and the unpredictability of it," he said. "I was extremely apprehensive to work at first, but coming in to the hub and reading and seeing all the safety measures in place put me at ease.

"We had a range of children about four to 12 years old. It was difficult at times, as especially the younger ones just wanted to be hugged and loved.

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Torfaen playworker Max Griffiths. Picture: Torfaen Play Service.

"It's massive for their wellbeing as well. As adults, we can figure out ways to deal with it, but it can be so hard for young children.

"It really helped me too. I've just finished studying acting so coming in to a world where the theatres are closed, this has taken my mind off it."

Play Service manager Julian Davenne said: “I think in Torfaen we are so lucky to have such an active and committed play workforce who have been able to troubleshoot and support schools through these unique times.

“We are extremely proud of our playworkers and their dedication and commitment, not just now in these troubled times – always.”

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Play packs were delivered to support vulnerable children in Torfaen during lockdown. Picture: Torfaen council.

In addition to the time in school hubs, the play service also set up its ‘Bringing play to you’ project.

Supported by the borough’s community councils, the play service provided more than 200 play packs, including activities for children to do at home, such as arts and crafts.