The Trussell Trust have recently reported that the need for food banks in their network has increased by 81% in the past five years. We know that food bank use has been sharply accelerating since the start of the pandemic, and this is set to continue as the cost of living crisis deepens. The children and families we support need us now more than ever, as they are still recovering from the pandemic and cost of living crisis.
Our recent See the Impact event was an excellent opportunity to share the ways our support tackles the challenges facing families, improving school attendance and life chances, and building resilience for the future.
We first heard from Donna Rose, our Family Intervention Manager and Safeguarding Lead, about our unique family support model and why this level of tailored family support works for families.
“We work holistically with entire families to support them to become autonomous and resilient, so that they are not reliant on us but know that we are there if they need us. As a flexible service that has the luxury of not being time-limited, we are able to build strong and respectful relationships and do whatever it takes to ensure children are in school, ready to learn.”
We heard from Laurel Theodosiou, one of our Family Support Practitioners working in West Ham Primary Church School in Newham, about the situation on the ground and the specific and tangible ways our support impacts families.
“These are extremely challenging times for many families, and we are able to offer the financial and material support they need in a variety of ways. One young girl I have worked with was showing up to school very tired and complaining of an inadequate bed. I was able to use the School-Home Support Welfare Fund to purchase a new bed, meaning she was sleeping better and was more engaged at school. Many families on free school meals are also worried about providing food for their children during the school holidays, and we are organising for groceries to be delivered throughout the holidays. Our main priority is to support families, and we will do this in any way we can.”
Finally, we heard from Nickie James, Headteacher at West Ham Church Primary School about School-Home Support’s role in her school, and the difference we have made to families.
“The challenges facing our families are complex and there are no quick fixes. Our practitioner is the bridge between school and home, and an essential piece of the jigsaw we use to support children. School-Home Support is able to provide much needed extra capacity, and can focus on what families need to support themselves. School-Home Support has been instrumental in enabling us to provide the level of support we want for our children and their families.”