St Christopher’s Fellowship Newsletter - Autumn 2013
Changing lives through fostering St Christopher’s is happy to report that our team of foster carers are currently looking after over 90 children, the highest number of children we have ever had in our care at one time. e success of our fostering services is testimony to our dedicated team of staﬀ and carers, who have worked really hard to provide an excellent service. Many of the children who have been fostered with St Christopher’s have beneﬁtted from successful placements with their carers, have been supported to return home to their families or have found new adoptive families. No one could understand this better than Jeanne, who welcomed six year old Abi into her home, oﬀering an escape route from a diﬃcult family life and an environment that was not safe for a young child. Jeanne reﬂects on her experience of fostering: ‘Abi has made a tremendous diﬀerence to both me and my family. What she’s given us is much greater than what we’ve given her. Both my daughters have committed themselves to our
In this edition of Opening Doors…
little girl’s future as a member of our family. Fostering is the most rewarding career I have ever chosen. [At St Christopher’s] we have a fantastic support system, which is quite unique.’ Fellow carer Angela agrees: ‘e training and support that St Christopher’s oﬀer is second to none.’ Abi is now fully settled into her new life with Jeanne’s family. She is always especially excited when the time comes for Jeanne’s daughters to visit from university and eagerly awaits the bedtime stories they enjoy reading together. e excellent foster care service we can provide for vulnerable children would not be possible without the generosity of our supporters. If you are interested in foster care and would like to ﬁnd out more, please call us on 0800 234 6282 or go to www.stchris.org.uk/fostering
Young people try their hand at carpentry Business skills are tested in the omson Reuters Apprentice day
Success for the British 10k team Launch of the St Christopher’s trainee programme
Youth participation update from Jack C4C, which stands for Challenge for Change, is our young people’s participation group, which allows young people from across our services to meet, discuss issues that aﬀect them and have their opinions heard by St Christopher’s Directors and Trustees. Your donations have allowed us to expand C4C and organise meetings and activities for the young people to enjoy. Each region now has a C4C representative, who chairs meetings and makes sure that young people’s voices are heard. Jack is one of our C4C representatives from Bedfordshire. We caught up with him to see how he found the experience of chairing his ﬁrst C4C meeting. “When I ﬁrst started planning my C4C meeting I found it very interesting and scary due to the excitement of the role and the challenge of how to link the diﬀerent houses in the region together. Over the last couple of months I have found the role of C4C representative helpful for my selfesteem and having the conﬁdence to speak in front of others. When the day of my ﬁrst C4C meeting came, I made sure that I had everything written down and properly rehearsed. I thought that the meeting went well as the young people and staﬀ members who attended seemed interested in the topics we discussed. Sometime in the near future I hope that I can visit some of the other homes in diﬀerent counties to get an insight into how other young people and homes work. I hope that my next meeting goes as well as this one!”
A taste of the carpentry industry Young people got a taste of the carpentry industry when John Laing transformed the sitting room of one of our homes into a workshop. e training taught young people skills and techniques such as cutting wood, making shelves and using power tools to drill and shape diﬀerent materials. Over the twoday course, the young people made two garden benches from scratch, learning how to calculate angles, the importance of dimension and scale and technical information such as which equipment and materials to use. We are very pleased to have the benches in the garden of one of our homes for all to enjoy. e young people who made them can be extremely proud of themselves for having developed new skills and used them for the beneﬁt of everyone at St Christopher’s. Here are some of the things that young people had to say about the course: “I feel very proud that I made something of value which others will ﬁnd useful.”
“I enjoyed the workshops and feel the things I learnt will come in useful, like cutting wood to make shelves.” Courses like this allow our young people to build their self-esteem, learn skills for independent living and gain an idea about what it would be like to work in diﬀerent industries. We will be running some more courses with John Laing over the next few months that will give a taster of professions such as plumbing, mechanics and painting and decorating.
You’re hired! The Thomson Reuters ‘Apprentice’ day
anks to the generosity and expertise of omson Reuters staﬀ, young people from St Christopher’s were given the opportunity to participate in an ‘Apprentice Day’ at the omson Reuters oﬃce in London. Testing all of their sales skills and business knowledge, young people were split into two teams to design a mobile phone app and write a business plan for its development. roughout the day they participated in a range of workshops led by omson Reuters staﬀ, including learning how to market a product through social media and how to present themselves succinctly and positively to potential employers. At the end of the day, the young people presented their ideas to a panel of judges including the Head of Sales and the President of IP and Science. e panel had nothing but praise for the young people’s eﬀorts, commenting that they were astounded by the quality of ideas that had been developed in such a short space of time. e winning app was designed by a team from the
Homelessness Intervention Project and provided information about housing to those at risk of homelessness. e close runner-up was an app that gave detailed information about drugs and medicine. anks to all the team at omson Reuters for organising this day, the young people had a great time and gained a valuable insight into the world of business. “I think everyone should have gone to the Apprentice Day, it was brilliant. It was a great experience for me and was fun and helpful. I was and still am glad that I went.” Mo “I managed to develop some useful techniques to enhance my skills in sales and developed some useful skills that should help me during my education. I would recommend this experience to anyone that could get the chance to participate.” John
And the winners are… We are pleased to announce the deserving winners of the latest round of Hickinbotham Awards. ese awards provide grants to give young people a helping hand towards reaching their goals. You may remember we mentioned in the Spring newsletter an application we had received from Toby, whose dream is to become a rock-star. e judges were extremely impressed by his music score sheet application and presented him with an award which
will allow him to enrol on a course at a rock school where he will learn technical and performance skills to help him on his way to achieving his ambition. Another winner, Josh, was awarded a grant to study for an advanced driving licence, which will allow him to pursue his dream to become a paramedic. Josh is currently working with the education team for children in care on the Isle of Man and is looking for driving courses to
apply for. Finally, Molly, who has just ﬁnished a catering course, identiﬁed a niche in the market for a shop selling cakes for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. She is now planning her business strategy with the support of one of St Christopher’s directors.
Congratulations to all the winners!
St Christopher’s Trainee Programme At St Christopher’s, we are proud of the quality of care we give to young people and know that this is only possible thanks to the dedication and hard work of our brilliant front line staﬀ team and home managers. Whilst many of our current managers are ‘home grown’, we are keen to recruit new talent. Our new trainee programme gives bright young people the opportunity to train on the job in our children’s homes and supported housing services to become the care workers and managers of the future. Our ﬁve trainees have completed the ﬁrst six months of the year long programme. We asked some of our young people to interview three of the trainees, Andy Davy, Sam Edwards and Heather Benwell, to see how they are getting on. Have you done anything similar to this job before? Andy: I’ve worked with charities and with children but never within the care system and never in England, so this is something completely new to me. Why do you want to work with young people? Heather: I’ve worked in a lot of jobs that were oﬃce based where time is spent reading through data and making applications for funding, but you’re always removed from people. en I did some work with some troubled youths when I was living abroad and I found
the constant interaction with young people and being challenged on a daily basis was really good. What have you enjoyed? Sam: e thing I enjoy the most is when it becomes really obvious that something you’ve done has had a direct impact on the way a young person behaves, a real explicit sign that you’ve made a diﬀerence and done something productive that really helps.
Sam is currently working in Howard House, our Camden home
What was the most challenging thing you’ve come across? Sam: I think the most challenging thing is being in a position of authority, which I’ve not really had to do before. Trying to exercise some discipline on other people felt a bit unnatural and it took a bit of time to adjust to.
e trainee programme is really important to the future development of St Christopher’s and our delivery of great services. is programme is not government funded and we are constantly looking to other sources to cover the costs. If you would be interested in making a donation speciﬁcally to the trainee programme, we would love to hear from you.
St Christopher’s young people share their opinions with government leaders We believe that young people should have an inﬂuence over the policies that govern the care they receive. Recently, young people from our London children’s homes gave their opinions on the care system as part of a parliamentary enquiry into the rights and entitlements for looked after children and care leavers. e session was led by the Who Cares? Trust, who asked young people what questions about
the care system they would like to ask the Prime Minister and other government leaders. e young people’s thoughts and opinions will be put into a report the Who Cares? Trust are writing which will be sent to the government. Opportunities like this give the young people in our care the chance to have their voices heard by decision-makers and inﬂuence policies that will aﬀect them and other children like them.
Events Success for our British 10k runners On a sunny Sunday in July, a team of St Christopher’s runners took on the challenge of the British 10k race through the centre of London. From the starting line at Piccadilly, along the Embankment and across Westminster Bridge to the ﬁnish near the Houses of Parliament, our runners joined 25,000 others in the race and were cheered on by a huge crowd. Despite the baking hot weather, all nine of the runners ﬁnished the race in brilliant time, with the fastest member of the team completing the course in 46 minutes. e team’s fundraising eﬀorts were equally as impressive, as they managed between them to raise over £10,000. is money will be going into the St Christopher’s ‘Go Scheme’ fund, which provides small but vital grants to young people in our services. On the same day, another team of St Christopher's runners raced in the Dartford Half Marathon. e team was made up of teachers from one of the London
schools where St Christopher’s runs the Homelessness Intervention Project to educate students about the realities and dangers of homelessness. anks to all the runners for their dedication and determination and to everyone who sponsored and supported them. St Christopher’s often has available places in road races and can oﬀer support with training and fundraising. Have a look at www.stchris.org.uk/support-us/events to see how you can get involved.
“Taking part in the British 10k for St Christopher’s gave me a chance to make a diﬀerence to the lives of young people – and to myself with the many hard hours of training!” Bruno, a St Christopher's supporter and member of the 10 team
THANK YOU ank you to everyone who returned the questionnaires we included in the Spring newsletter. It was great to ﬁnd out a bit more about you and we will take into account your preferences about ommunicating with you in the future. We are grateful to our partners omson Reuters, who bought a young person a cinema ticket for every questionnaire we received. e young people greatly enjoyed their trips out to the cinema. ank you for making this possible. We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us in recent months. In particular, we would like to thank:
Volunteers brighten up our homes Young people arrive in St Christopher’s homes from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some have been sofa surﬁng with friends, some sleeping rough on the streets and many arrive with few possessions. As soon as they step through our doors, we do all we can to make them feel welcome and at home. One of the ways we make new arrivals feel cared for is by ensuring the bedrooms they move into are clean, fresh and brightly painted. As we have a high turnover of residents throughout the year, this can be a never-ending task. is spring, a group of volunteers from accountancy ﬁrm Price Waterhouse Coopers came to four of our homes to smarten up the bedrooms and tidy up the gardens after the winter. Armed with rollers, paint brushes and a selection of paints chosen by the residents, half of the team decorated bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, with a break for lunch to chat to some of the residents about their experiences living in St Christopher’s homes. e other half of the volunteers tackled the gardens at two of our London children’s homes, working hard to make them look great. Staﬀ at one of the homes was so pleased with the transformed garden that they bought a football goal so the young people can now use the space productively. e two days were a huge success and both volunteers and the young people who were involved had a great time and are very pleased with the results of their hard work. We are hugely grateful to the team from PwC and look forward to them coming back.
• e Garﬁeld Weston Foundation, for funding the renovation of one of our supported housing services for those aged 16 and over • e Lynn Foundation, for funding a DJ skills course. • e Alchemy Foundation, e Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust and e Daisy Trust, for helping us provide Welcome Packs containing basic food and toiletries to young people arriving at our services. • e Persula Foundation and e Souter Charitable Trust, for funding the John Laing training. • e Gladys Wightwick Charitable Trust, e Peacock Charitable Trust and e George Dudley Herbert Charitable Trust for their generous support. • Everyone who has supported us over the last six months. Your generosity allows us to care for more vulnerable children and young people.
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* e people pictured in this newsletter are models and are not the subjects of the case study stories. AW13