The children we support:
Free to Be exists to create access to therapeutic adventures, nature based residential experiences and social skill building groups that support the emotional health, build resilience or provide new opportunities for vulnerable children in London and the surrounding areas.
By 'vulnerable' we mean that someone in the child's life, often a teacher, housing officer, social worker or relative, has felt the young person needs extra support in order to thrive, or has been worried about their emotional wellbeing, social relationships or lack of opportunity.
Many of the children we support are struggling with issues at home, school or with friends. Some may be impacted by experiences of significant childhood trauma or harm. Many will be facing complex and interwoven challenges across more than one area, perhaps including falling behind at school, difficult relationships at home or social problems such as bullying, isolation and difficulties with conflict or other social skills. Others may have limited opportunity due to family unemployment, local deprivation or health and disability issues.
Stephen is 8 and for two years witnessed his father's domestic violence towards his mother. His parents have since separated. Since witnessing the violence, he suffers from night terrors, often feeling angry and guilty at the same time.
He currently shares a single room with his mother and siblings in a refuge. The emergency move has left them far away from his school, so he is often tired and late due to the long journey.
Stephen struggles to regulate his emotions in class, which makes it difficult for him to make and keep friends. Other children label him as ‘naughty’, teasing him to provoke a reaction and get him into trouble. He recently told a staff member that "he wishes he was dead".
The impact of these challenges will be adversely affecting at least one, although very often significantly more, areas of a young person's social or emotional development.
Experiences and events may have left them feeling anxious, alone or as if they cannot succeed. Or they may have developed difficulties with their capacity to manage big thoughts and feelings without lashing out, running off or seeking to avoid confrontation.
Some may present as low in mood or often worn down, whilst others may seem to have too much energy and struggle with managing things like classrooms or sleeping
Sarah is 10 and only moved to the UK this year from Sierra Leone following the death of her mother. She has never known her father and his whereabouts are unknown, but it is thought he also passed away a number of years ago.
She currently lives with her aunt and four cousins, but her aunt is seriously ill with terminal cancer.
Sarah had a really hard time making friends when she started at school in the U.K. Her peers found it hard to accept her initially, because her newness set her apart as different to the other children. Sarah often talks about how isolated she feels.
Whatever their challenges, we believe all children have the right to feel unique, special and important.
Our approach focusses on building strengths and capacity for children who are often isolated from effective support networks. It is not always possible to remove all adversity and risk from life, but by providing disadvantaged children with opportunities to succeed and feel special, we can help them develop the resilience and emotional literacy to thrive in spite of their circumstances. Whilst adding positive enrichment to childhoods which otherwise can seem overly defined by risks and problems.
If you are interested in referring children to attend our projects, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.