Due to the current pandemic and the restrictions around it, which don't allow residential projects to take place at the moment, we've scaled back our work over Autumn 2020 to focus on providing a small amount of carefully managed one to one support for our most vulnerable children. Our team will be back and working at full capacity from November 2020 and we will be aiming to run a full range of projects from Spring 2021, if restrictions allow.
From the hard streets of South London to the rolling hills and leafy glades of west Sussex: it must have come as a bit of a shock to the children I spent the morning with.
A shock, too, to find that there are other children who feel left out, excluded and unwanted; and, then, to top it all, to find some adults and teenagers who don't wish you harm but wish you happiness and contentment and safety.
I spent a few hours with some of the thirty eight children, aged 8 to 13, who are spending five days at a large residential centre in the Sussex countryside, under the watchful eye of the lovely people at the charity 'Free to Be Kids'. The children come from tough homes, broken homes, special schools, no schools and that familiar mix of muddled back-drops which have left them at risk - risk of harm or risk of simply being over-looked.
My friend David van Eeghan, from the Kids Company days, suggested I might like to meet up with Rachel Nichols and Mike Gee, two others who fought that good fig...
I do. After serveral botched attempts I hoisted myself up, breathless, navigated the treacherous gaps in the branches, flinched at what I thought was a nest of man-eating spiders, steadied myself with another branch, stood up straight and looked out from atop my lofty perch. Getting down was slightly more difficult as all the branches seemed to have treacherously re-organised themselves without me knowing, so I took a leap of faith and jumped, crashing gracefully into a nearby bush and got up, dusting myself pretending nothing had happened.
I was 23 years old. Better late than never.
Most of us have climbed a tree (some more successfully than others), started a campfire, or scaled a hill at some point in our lives. Perhaps flown a kite or built a den. We felt excited, adventurous, brave, full of possibility and at times, a little unsure. We navigated unknown territory, be it tree, puddle or pathway, took calculated risks, be...