School-Home Support’s Patron, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Mr Kenneth Olisa, made a very special visit to one of our partner schools in Barking & Dagenham this week. Visiting the Erkenwald Centre, the Lord-Lieutenant met with pupils, parents, and Erkenwald staff and heard all about the fantastic work that goes on at the centre. Joining him on the tour was School-Home Support’s CEO, Jaine Stannard, and Head of Family Intervention, Maggie Mitchell.
The Erkenwald Centre offers an alternative education for students within the borough whose attendance at their secondary school is below 10% or who are not attending at all. Often these children are experiencing behavioural and/or emotional issues, and require specialised support from the expert staff. The aim of the service is to improve each individual student’s attendance and personal wellbeing with a hope to reintegrate them back into mainstream placements, whether that is school, college or employment.
Tracy Evans, the SHS Practitioner based in Erkenwald, won Practitioner of the Year this year at SHS and her work at Erkenwald was a key factor in this. She supports children by making home visits, seeing them one-on-one at school, and by signposting them to other services which can help them and their families to overcome challenges such as mental health issues. In the past couple of years, her work has included helping a little boy who fled Pakistan after surviving a terrorist attack at his school (he suffered both from severe physical and mental injuries), and helping a mother and daughter (Sharon and Emily) who both suffered quite extreme anxiety, with Sharon unable to leave her home for some time. Sharon and Emily came along to the visit and we were really proud to hear from them about how far they had both come in their personal journeys with help from Tracy and the Erkenwald Centre.
You can watch an interview with Sharon and Emily below:
In addition to Sharon and Emily, the Lord-Lieutenant also heard from a mother, Debbie, whose daughter had been supported through depression and behavioural difficulties at the centre; from Jill Kitchener, Head of Campus; and from Annie Blackmore, Head of Specialist Alternative Provision Services in Barking & Dagenham. He also heard from the Centre’s Attendance Officer, Caroline Skinner.
It was an honour for everyone to meet the Lord-Lieutenant and inspirational to hear him describe his role and his vision for Greater London. The Lord-Lieutenant acts as a bridge-builder, connecting individuals, organisations and social networks to enhance Londoners’ sense of belonging and therefore, increase social inclusion within the capital. This ties in perfectly with his role as patron of School-Home Support – we are very proud to have him!