Member News: St Christopher's - Staying Close praised for “encouraging secure, long-term social networks”
St Christopher’s Fellowship is “encouraging secure, long-term social networks” for care leavers, according to an evaluation released by the Department for Education.
The report on the children’s charity’s Staying Close model, released on Tuesday 3 November by the DfE Innovation Programme, highlights “the pilot’s genuine desire to allow young people to gain autonomy and its ability to actively engage young people in decision making”.
The Staying Close model works within four children’s homes in the London Boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow to support young people transitioning from care to independence, with reflective practice facilitated by MAC-UK. Young people co-produce plans for professionals on what they want to support their transition including life skills sessions, trialling move-on accommodation and regular contact with people they care about.
The evaluation explores how St Christopher’s meets the four key aims of the pilot, which were relationship management, stable education, employment or training (EET), independent living skills and wellbeing.
Authentic relationships between young people and their care workers, which develop how relationships typically would outside of the care system, have been key to the success of the project. “[It’s] human, it’s normal, because at the end of the day, if that was your family, and you progressed and you went on to have children, or study, or whatever… that’s the sort of relationship you would have,” shared one young person in the report.
Project partners at Ealing and Hounslow have already implemented policies on expectations and boundaries for relationships based on learning from St Christopher’s Staying Close.
Having relationships with people who want them to succeed has given care leavers support to sustain education, training and employment. The report describes this as “invaluable, with one of the young people stating that they would not be able to go to university if they were not part of the Staying Close programme”.
Support from a dedicated life skills worker allowed young people to feel confident that they could ask for help when they needed it. “Young people benefiting from the project stated that they ‘felt safer’ as it was as though they had a ‘safety net’ but also still had their independence,” the evaluation found.
To improve wellbeing, move-on accommodation and regular, planned contact with children’s home staff allows young people to transition gradually so they can experience independence without feeling isolated. “All of the young people felt that this support was useful, particularly for those with existing mental ill-health issues,” explains the report.
The project is now expanding across all St Christopher’s children’s homes and semi-independent accommodation in the UK.
Jonathan Whalley, Chief Executive, said: “I am thrilled that St Christopher’s Staying Close is succeeding in maintaining those key supportive relationships for young people as they leave care. Thank you to everyone for their commitment in developing the pilot, especially to the young people for their invaluable wisdom and insight.”
Like many charities we have been opening our eyes to structural racism, bias and discrimination in our society, our organisation and the wider charity sector.
Back in June, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, St Christopher’s committed to ensuring we are a just and equal organisation for staff and young people of all races. Since then, our Race Matters Group has been exploring areas where St Christopher’s can make changes to benefit everyone who makes up our charity.
Race Matters is composed of employees from across the service types and regions that we operate in. The group has identified five priority areas to work on:
For example, one topic of discussion has focused on how the organisation has assessed the resources we have to meet the health and wellbeing of staff and the young people we care for in the knowledge of how racism impacts on some groups. This includes how we engage and collaborate with external services and which of those services are best placed to meet the needs of our workforce and young people.
The group has also looked at the appropriateness and context of terminology used within the organisation. As everyone offers a unique perspective on these issues they are not simple problems that can be solved, so it is essential to raise awareness and promote learning around these difficult topics.
As an organisation we are encouraging colleagues to submit their equality and diversity data. This will provide an overall picture of our workforce so that we can look through different cultural lenses, be more targeted and create a stronger sense of belonging.
Members are keen to ensure these changes are not short-term but ones that will benefit employees and young people long into the future. This means acting with thought and consideration and commitment to facilitating change which will last the test of time.
Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley said: “Thank you to our colleagues for establishing this group and being so open about their experiences. This work will not be easy or a quick fix, but is hugely important in ensuring all St Christopher’s staff and young people feel valued and equal.”
Improved emotional wellbeing is one of St Christopher’s aims for the children and young people we care for. One way we achieve this is through our multi-disciplinary therapeutic teams.
Fern is an Art Therapist on the Isle of Man. She is part of the Wraparound therapeutic team, which works with children in care, adoptive parents, foster carers and social care staff to support their emotional wellbeing. The team’s skillset includes a range of therapeutic approaches to ensure that they can offer the most appropriate kind of help to their clients. Read below to find out how art therapy is making a difference to young people on the island.
“Our team is made up of five therapists, who are trained in various forms of therapy and counselling. Every Monday we meet to discuss developments and explore any new referrals to the service. People come to us with a variety of needs: attachment, abandonment and rejection, loss, neglect and trauma are ones that surface most regularly. As we provide therapeutic services to Looked After Children, care leavers and adoption families it is important we assess each case on an individual basis in order to signpost them to the most appropriate team member based on what type of therapeutic work is required. Working within a variety of children, young people, parents, adopters and carers means that every day is different, which makes this role interesting and a continuous learning experience.
My qualifications and skills lie in Art Therapy, which is different to more traditional therapies as the act of creating art is the primary form of communication between client and therapist. Art therapy is non-directive and richly rooted with psychological theory. In an art therapy session, creative acts form a bridge between the client’s conscious and unconscious minds. This bridge allows emotive material to surface into the client’s awareness. It is the job of the therapist to remain attuned to this so that they can support the client to identify significant feelings and experiences that may provide an informed understanding towards their wellbeing.
In my experience, using non-verbal, non-directive therapy is crucial when working with clients who have experienced severe neglect and trauma. As art therapy is so non-directive it becomes a comfortable way to support the client to process only as much as they feel able to at that time.
As Wraparound works with a client group who may have experienced little exposure to boundaries and structure, part of my role is investing time and energy into defining the therapeutic structure, as well as providing a sense of safety within the therapeutic room. These little acts can become poignant, opening up doorways to explore the client’s attachment experiences and feelings towards rejection and loss.
In the beginning of working with a new client I gain an understanding of the client’s experiences and messages they believe with regard to their art-making, as these inform what the client needs to feel safe enough to engage in the art therapy process. When a piece of work is finished it is a marker in the client’s journey of therapy, which is often used to reflect their progress and pinpoint conscious awareness of significant factors.
Currently I am using art therapy principles to support two siblings in the process of moving back to their family home and making sense of their emotionally traumatic experiences. This work is received positively and evidences the power of creativity and its ability to inspire confidence, provide a sense of mastery and witness the trauma that has been experienced.”
Therapeutic support is just one way we create brighter futures for children and young people. Find out how your donations make a difference to their lives or support us today.
Member News: St Christopher's - The journey to employment: how our specialist team help young people to thrive at work
Cassie was supported by our Aftercare service on the Isle of Man from the age of 16. Initially she was in an unhealthy relationship and had fallen into a lifestyle of drug and alcohol misuse. Her life was moving along a trajectory where she felt unhappy and had little hope for her future.
She then started working with Support Into Employment, our specialist team that help care leavers learn workplace skills and find the right job for them.
Cassie was interested in a career in banking but her only experience was in waitressing. She wanted to make changes to her life but struggled to see how to get to where she wanted to be.
The team supported her to complete a trial at a local restaurant to build up her confidence, which led to full-time work as a waitress. Meanwhile, Cassie started an online banking course to develop her skillset for the career she dreamed of.
However, within a few weeks the negative influences in Cassie’s life put her under pressure, impacting on her performance and attendance at work. Part of Support Into Employment’s remit is to work closely with the employer to help them understand reasons behind a young person’s behaviours. Although the workplace offered many chances to Cassie they could no longer sustain her employment, but the support of our team helped the role to come to a positive end.
Cassie took some time out to reflect and access emotional support. Support Into Employment then found a contact at a bank, who was willing to offer a contracted period of employment. Cassie felt motivated and seized this opportunity with both hands.
Since then Cassie has quickly adapted to working at the bank and found a new peer group. She is on a permanent contract and has been working from home as a banking associate during the coronavirus outbreak. Her life is far from what she imagined it could be even just one year ago, thanks to Support Into Employment giving her the tools and self-belief to achieve her goals.
We want to help more young people like Cassie. Can you support us by making a donation to St Christopher’s today?
A message from St Christopher’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Whalley
St Christopher’s has 150 years’ experience looking after children and young people. This expertise is helping us to ensure we provide high quality care and support to young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
Throughout this period, young people remain our biggest priority. Our staff are working hard to keep them feeling safe, happy & loved, and are supporting them to understand the situation as it evolves.
We are still taking referrals to our children’s homes, 16+ services and foster homes at this time and are working closely with local authorities to consider each young person’s needs. Please get in touch with us today for more information. Our main office is closed but we can still be contacted using the email addresses at the end of this page.
We are grateful for the support that our local communities and donors have shown to us during this time, so thank you for everything you have done and are doing to help.
Finally, and most importantly, thank you to our amazing staff for persevering through this outbreak and always putting children at the heart of your work. Your kindness, commitment and passion never ceases to amaze me, and I really appreciate everything you are doing.
Additional funding has been provided to St Christopher’s to expand our Staying Close model supporting care leavers in England.
The Department for Education has provided a total of £407,515 to maintain our existing pilot and develop the model for four of our children’s homes across London and the West Midlands.
Staying Close centres on supporting young people living in residential care with their transition to independence. Our current pilot launched in 2017 in partnership with the London Borough of Ealing and Hounslow, working with young people in four children’s homes to build their life skills, relationships and resilience.
We focus on helping young people to stay in touch with the people they care about after they move out of their children’s home. This addresses the isolation that many young people can feel once they leave care and means they have people around them who can support them during difficult times, but also be there to celebrate their successes.
St Christopher’s Staying Close model is co-produced, empowering young people to take the lead on the help they need when moving on from their children’s home to independence. Part of the new funding will allow us to explore how to develop a peer researcher apprenticeship for a care experienced young person, so that co-production can be central to the project analysis.
St Christopher’s has already begun to roll-out learning from the project by implementing the use of Staying Close across all of their services in England. This means that young people moving on from their services, regardless of the circumstances, will be offered the chance to co-produce a plan that helps them stay in touch with staff in the home, if they wish to do so.
Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley said: “This extended funding is testament to the life-changing work that our Staying Close team has achieved. I am thrilled that we can replicate our model to benefit more young people as they leave the care system, especially during our 150th birthday year.
“These successes would not have been possible without the guidance and expertise from young people using our services, so thank you for all of your help.”
A former resident of St Christopher’s Fellowship is supporting our current children and young people in our 150th birthday year.
Jason Cobine lived with St Christopher’s in the late 1980s. Since leaving our care he has forged a successful career and established his own insurance business. He credits the charity for giving him the skills and motivation to achieve his goals.
Jason kindly shares his experiences in St Christopher’s Impact Report 2020. He said: “I felt I could progress quickly whilst living [at St Christopher’s], and found security. My key worker was a pivotal figure in helping me get my foot onto the first rung of the career ladder, and we are still in touch to this day.” You can read Jason’s story on Cobine Carmelson Ltd.
In 2020, St Christopher’s is celebrating 150 years of creating brighter futures for children and young people. We would like your support in continuing our work, which provides vital services for young people who cannot live with their own families.
Visit our 150th birthday page to support our work or find out more about our history.
You can keep up to date with all of our 2020 activities on social media using #StChris150.
St Christopher’s is delighted to release their Impact Report 2020 as part of their 150th birthday celebrations, which has been co-produced with young people accessing their services.
This report commends young people’s achievements from over the last year, examines new services that have been developed in line with what young people need, and shares the ways in which staff and foster carers create brighter futures.
It also includes interviews with people who used to live in St Christopher’s services, where they have shared the difference that the charity has made to their lives.
he brochure has been co-produced with young people, showing St Christopher’s commitment to listening and acting on their views. It begins with an introduction from a St Christopher’s young person about their experiences and the impact services had on their lives. Other young people from the UK and the Isle of Man interviewed Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley and Chairs Bert O’Donoghue and Jane Poole-Wilson, grilling them about future plans for St Christopher’s. Finally, young people looked over the whole report to give feedback before it was printed.
The Impact Report is available to read now. You can keep up with the rest of St Christopher’s 150th birthday activities on social media using #StChris150.
In 2020 St Christopher’s Fellowship is celebrating 150 years of creating brighter futures for children and young people. We are inviting people to become part of our legacy by supporting our work over the coming year.
Our charity started out as Homes for Working Boys in 1870, set up by three school friends to aid boys and young men who moved to London for work but struggled to support themselves. We merged with the Fellowship of St Christopher’s in 1967 with a renewed focus on providing safe homes for young people who could not live with their own families or were homeless.
Today, St Christopher’s is a provider of services and homes for children and young people in care. We offer children’s homes, supported housing, foster homes and specialist outreach services for young people who are often overlooked by statutory help.
Our approach to working with young people focuses on bringing out their “inner diamond”. By helping young people to recognise their own talents, value and potential, we can build their self-confidence and support them to lead happy, successful lives, regardless of what has happened to them in the past.
Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley said: “Over the last 150 years St Christopher’s has changed thousands of lives. We want to continue this vital work, but we need support from the community to do it. Anything that the public can offer to support our mission is gratefully received.”
To support St Christopher’s or find out more about our work, click here
Salary £42,000 - £50,000 depending on experience
37.5 hours per week
St Christopher’s is seeking an experienced and dynamic professional to support and develop our fostering services across the Eastern Region including Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Peterborough, Essex, Bedfordshire and the London borders.
If you have a successful track record of recruiting foster carers and providing the training and support necessary to build a thriving fostering business, we want to hear from you.
St Christopher's is an established children’s charity that has provided care for vulnerable children and young people for almost 150 years. We provide fostering, children's homes and a range of innovative housing and support services across London, Bedfordshire, West Midlands and the Isle of Man.
We really care about children and young people, placing them at the centre of everything we do. We ask young people what they think and involve them in decision making, from helping to shape new services to interviewing new members of staff. Our social pedagogic approach is our core philosophy of care. Put simply this is a holistic approach for building positive relationships with young people to bring out their inner “diamond”.
This is a unique opportunity for you to build a fostering team that can deliver high standards of service and achieve excellent outcomes for children. You will be backed by St Christopher’s centrally co-ordinated and targeted recruitment campaigns and supported by marketing colleagues.
Key aspects of the Role:
Applicants should have:
In return we offer:
At St Christopher’s we are committed to the safeguarding of all children and young people in our care. During the recruitment process you will be expected to complete an online application form to ensure we capture essential information to meet legislation, best practice and vetting requirements.
Applicants will ideally already be on the DBS Update Service; if this is not the case St Christopher's will carry out a DBS (police) check prior to starting.
Your online application must include a supporting statement addressing the criteria stated in the Person Specification.
For the full Person Specification click here
For more information or assistance during the application process, please contact email@example.com
Closing Date: 18th November 2019
Interviews: 25th November 2019
We currently have offices in London, Chelmsford and West Midlands – Interviews will be held at our Chelmsford Office
St Christopher’s is committed to equal opportunities and welcomes applications from all sections of the community as well as applications from candidates with care experience or experience of being a care leaver.
Full details and application details here
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