Member News: St Christopher’s close links with the Churchill Fellowship continue to inform our outstanding practice
The Churchill Fellowship provides grants to travel abroad to bring back learning from good practice overseas. This year they are opening a dedicated opportunity for applicants who are seeking to improve the lives and outcomes of children and young people with experience of care. This includes children in care, those on the edge of care, adoptees and care-leavers. They are also welcoming applications that aim to increase support for caregivers and for families affected by care concerns. They welcome applications from anyone who has contact with young people in care. And are particularly interested in hearing from people with experience of care themselves, as well as foster carers, kinship carers and adopters.
Ten years ago as a manager at St Christopher’s, now Director of Income and Development – Geneva Ellis, and one of her colleagues, Harry, were lucky enough to secure Churchill Fellowships. The Fellowship award funds you to travel abroad and learn from practice in other countries. Geneva’s Fellowship focused on children’s homes, whilst Harry’s looked at the education of young people in care. Although they travelled separately, it was really helpful to have a peer to reflect with and to bounce ideas off each other.
Between them, Geneva and Harry visited children’s homes, foster homes, semi-independent homes and schools in Germany, Norway and Sweden. At that time, we in St Christopher’s were in the early stages of trailing our use of social pedagogy and it was fascinating to see social pedagogy in practice within a wider national social care culture that understands and supports it. The visits fundamentally challenged their perceptions of what we can assume are truths about supporting children in care and broadened my understanding of what could be possible for young people.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the Fellowships were life changing experiences for the participants, both personally and professionally. Geneva met inspirational people both during her travels and through the network of Fellows on her return. Being away from home for six weeks certainly brought its challenges, but helped Geneva become more resourceful and confident too. When she returned, Geneva and Harry presented their findings to senior colleagues at St Christopher’s and within the sector. Harry and Geneva worked with colleagues across St Christopher’s to develop their ideas, using one of these models we applied for and were successful in securing funding that helped us to develop the Safe Steps innovation pilot which grew into our Pelham House children’s home. Today this home continues to provide Outstanding, vital care, education and protection to young women and girls at risk of sexual exploitation.
The Churchill Fellowship is available to people from all walks of life. It isn’t an academic Fellowship; they are actively seeking applicants who are passionate and committed to making a difference. If you’re interested in making a difference, have ideas about what you would like to learn, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to apply for a Fellowship.
A Fellowship funds you to spend up to two months discovering new solutions and best practice from leading practitioners anywhere in the world and supports you to apply that learning and make change happen in the UK. The Fellowship provides the time and space, to learn, reflect, network and develop within your field. To learn more about the Churchill Fellowship please look on their website here.
And for those who do apply good luck!
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