From the magazine: Hitting the high street
The following is an article from the latest issue of the CHICKS Magazine. The UK's most…Read more
The children and young people who come on CHICKS respite breaks are referred to us by a wide range of professionals – children's social services, healthcare professionals and other charitable organisations, to name a few. However, the largest source of our referrals are educational establishments, which in 2018 accounted for more than 40% of children referred to our Young Person's Hub, the team that coordinates breaks.
In recognition of World Teachers' Day 2019, we wanted to say a massive thank you to all the teachers and other educational professionals who refer vulnerable children and young people to come on a CHICKS respite break. We also asked one of our regular referral agents to provide their first-hand experience of working with CHICKS.
Bethany is the Assistant Headteacher at a primary school in Derbyshire. She has referred a number of children for a CHICKS respite break. We asked her a few questions about her experience and the benefits she sees in the children when they return to school.
When did you first hear about CHICKS and when did you first get involved with us by referring a child for a respite break?
"During the last academic year, we were introduced to CHICKS through another school in a similar context. From that first introduction, we began our journey together referring children and seeing the impact it had on them, with lasting memories and great shared experiences for them to treasure.
"Due to the external circumstances our children face, some can lack confidence, have attachment issues, or struggle with managing and communicating their emotions. Referring some of our children to CHICKS gave them the opportunity to break down these barriers and equipped them with skills and experiences that will prepare them for life beyond their Primary years."
How did you find the process of referring children to CHICKS?
"When the children were referred, their parents were elated with the opportunity, and any worries over costs or provisions (like coats and wellies) were alleviated through the CHICKS website. The phone system [parents are able to call their children during the week on a Respite Break Leader's phone with the use of a password] allowed fears and anxieties that the families had about their child being away from home to disappear.
"Our parents commented on how the children's confidence and independence grew from phone call to phone call throughout their week on break."
What other benefits have you or your colleagues recognised in children who have been on a CHICKS respite break?
"CHICKS gave our children cherished memories, confidence, laughter, and most importantly hope. It allowed them to be children and experience things that they never would have had the opportunity to do in their 'normal' lives.
"Children who have returned from a respite break have shown noticeable improvements in their confidence and engagement with school life and their peers, so much so that this has been noted by their teachers. The experience away from home allowed our children to gain confidence, build friendships and have a literal 'break' from their real lives.
"Ultimately, it allowed them to enjoy being children!"
What would you say to other teachers and educational professionals who may work with children who could benefit from a CHICKS respite break?
"If, as a school, you are considering referring a child to CHICKS, rest assured in the knowledge that their team really go above and beyond to make sure your pupils are safe and happy. This was reflected in the pupils' smiles and stories they brought back from their break! These are the memories they remember and will reflect on, as we help them to grow into the citizens we want them to become."
If you would like to refer a child for a CHICKS respite break, please click here.