Invitation to deliver summer activities for Reading children

Organisations across Reading are being invited to bid for funding to provide activities for disadvantaged children throughout the summer holidays.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), which provides education and children’s services in Reading, is co-ordinating the programme as part of the government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.

The company is interested in hearing from a range of providers who could offer enriching activities and healthy food for young people who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals.

The Department for Education is making up to £220m available to local areas to deliver the HAF programme over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

BFfC is looking to work with a range of providers across the borough, including community-based and voluntary organisations, existing holiday care providers, schools, childminders, sports clubs and creative and performing arts groups.

Funding will be considered for organisations that can prove they can deliver:

  • High quality enriching activities which includes at least one hour of physical activity
  • A healthy, nutritious meal
  • Skills, activities/classes aimed at helping children and their parents to make healthy and affordable choices
  • A positive legacy that lasts longer than the experience

Deborah Glassbrook, Reading’s Director of Children’s Services, said: “The Holiday Activity and Food programme is an important scheme for children and young people who have some disadvantages, so we want to make sure we can offer the best possible range of activities.

“We are looking for local organisations that are able to provide fun and enriching activities and nutritious food which will allow children and young people in Reading to be more active and eat more healthily over the summer break.

“I know there is a huge variety of organisations in Reading that would be able to provide excellent activities for our young people and I would urge them to contact us now.”

Further information for potential providers of holiday activities can be found at: https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/about/holiday-activities-and-food-programme/

Any organisations interested in working with the HAF progamme, please contact: Ciaran.delaney@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

Note to editors

For more details about the Holiday Activities and Food programme, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/holiday-activities-and-food-programme/holiday-activities-and-food-programme-2021


Celebrating the contribution of Reading’s young carers

The incredible work of young carers in Reading will be celebrated by Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) on Young Carers Action Day tomorrow (Tuesday 16 March).

It has been a particularly difficult year for young carers because of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in less social interaction with friends and family.

BFfC’s youth workers have been holding a weekly virtual youth club for young carers throughout the year and are holding a special session tomorrow.

Young people with caring responsibilities make a vital contribution to their family and the local community all year round but also need access to help and support themselves.

The weekly virtual sessions held by BFfC’s targeted youth worker team give young carers a chance to stay in touch with their peers and speak to members of the team about any concerns they have. They can also share their thoughts and feelings or just talk about what is going on in their lives.

Youth workers have also been contacting parents throughout the year to offer a listening ear and signpost to support where needed, including the offer of food parcels during the school holidays.

The team are sending out party packs to the young carers who take part in the virtual weekly sessions to hold a special get-together for Young Carers Action Day. These will include festival items, such as glow sticks and bunting, a drawing pad and game.

They will also receive Just Eat gift vouchers to allow them to have something to eat while taking part in a quiz and other fun activities during the session.

Blank cards and envelopes will also be sent out to give young people the chance to write down their thoughts and feelings around what it is like being a young carer and how the last year has been different for them. They can then be sent to the youth workers.

Deborah Glassbrook, Director of Children’s Services in Reading, said: “Our wonderful young carers make an amazing contribution to their families and the community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all.

“The last year has been a difficult one for all children and even more so for young people with caring responsibilities who have been unable to get out and meet friends and other family members during lockdown.

“Young Carers Action Day is an opportunity to mark the incredible work of young carers but our youth workers are there to support them all year round.”

The Targeted Youth Team can be contacted by phone on 0118 937 6545 or email to ryp@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

More information about the youth service, support for young carers, mental health advice and much more can be found on the Young People Zone on the Brighter Futures for Children website at: https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/young-peoples-zone/young-carers/.


New Skills and Employment Youth Hub opens

A new one-stop shop for young people looking for employment, education or training has opened in Reading town centre.

The Skills and Employment Youth Hub will be operated by Brighter Futures for Children’s Elevate careers service in partnership with JobCentre Plus and other partners in the Curious Lounge, in the Pinnacle building, Tudor Road.

The hub will offer a fresh new way of supporting and offering advice to Reading’s young people to avoid them becoming long term NEET (not in employment, education or training).

Elevate will leave its current home in Reading Central Library to relocate to Curious Lounge but the hub will operate ‘virtually’ initially due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Young people aged 16-25 will have access to a wide range of services in the hub, including: advice on the academic and vocational opportunities available; first-hand experience of work places through the DWP Kick Start scheme; training sessions from local partners and employers; access to digital technology within the hub; resources to help with career planning; training on CV building, interview preparation and communication skills and drop-in support from health practitioners.

Young people can be referred to the service by their DWP Work Coach or Youth Employability Coach.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at Brighter Futures for Children, said“The creation of the Skills and Employment Youth Hub signifies a very exciting time for Elevate careers service.

“I am thrilled that Elevate will be leading the way in the effort to support young people to secure employment, education or training after leaving school or college.

“We have already made significant progress in reducing the number of young people NEET in Reading and this project will serve to boost these efforts further.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said: “Some young people struggle to find the path that is right for them after leaving full-time education and it is soul-destroying to see such wasted talent.

“The Skills and Employment Youth Hub will be a one-stop shop located in a lively environment with space for young people to meet employers, training and education providers and where they can gain the skills they need to take their next positive steps.”


Youth Climate Summit 2020

05 November 2020

A virtual national youth climate summit involving pupils from Reading is taking place next week.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) is one of the organisations supporting the event which aims to bring children and young people together from across the UK to demonstrate their commitment to tackling climate change.

The summit, starting on Monday 9 November, will run over five days with each day focusing on a different theme.

Topics will include nature, oceans and water; travel, pollution and waste; food, farming and forests, and fashion and consumption.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said: “We are proud to be supporting the Youth Climate Summit which is a brilliant way of bringing children and young people together from across the country to discuss this important issue.

“Brighter Futures for Children is also committed to working with Headteachers to help them engage pupils in this vital topic in their schools.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Lead Councillor for Education, said:  “The climate and ecological emergency facing the world is something many children and young people in Reading feel passionately about. I hope this summit helps unify the voices of young people across the UK to ensure their message is heard loud and clear.

“This week the council approved the Reading Climate Emergency Strategy 2020-25 and we need the support of the whole Reading community to help meet the ambitious targets set for the town.”

The Youth Climate Summit is co-ordinated by environmental charity Global Action Plan and more information about the week of webinars and activities can be found at: https://www.transform-our-world.org/youth-climate-summit-2020.

The summit coincides with Reading Climate Festival which is hosting many free events, including some aimed at Reading’s education community. Find more details at: http://www.readingculturelive.co.uk/genre/reading-climate-festival-genre/.


Equality - A poem by a young person in care

Equality we all want it but do we really want to live in a world that is forced upon us. Do we really want to live on a planet that has more segregation than a pizza but each slice bigger than the other, more powerful, bigger ego, higher pay?

I have a feeling many people don’t understand the meaning of fair, white girls complaining ‘’how is it you have better hair than us?’’

Athletes all constantly complaining ‘’ its unfair black people are faster’’

Fair is however not everyone getting the same, it is everybody getting what they need in order to succeed.

To be honest our modern society is like a car dealership, whatever car we like we are judged for it but with 0% APR no money down, we are forced to drive these cars for the rest of our lives. But why is it when I drive my car no one would ever mistake me for my car but when I drive my body people always confuse me for my body not me.

You see when a baby hears the cry of another it cries no matter the race, gender or religion but when we grow older we force feed the labels, black, white, African, Irish but the thing is we never doubt them. You know I am so proud to be a mixed race child, it means two races have come together. This maybe an unpopular opinion but I do believe its too late. We’ve reached an era where people are too stubborn to do what others ask of them.

The thing that worries me most is teachers, the comments I hear everyday and I know they hear the racist slurs but they do nothing about it, but when I speak up to say something all they gotta say is sorry or it was a joke and then its all sorted but it isn’t really because the next day it will continue and so forth.

We never asked for this we never did anything to deserve this, in fact my people lived and died working and serving for you but I will never let that be me, I will never allow someone with no greater features than me control me. Never.

So the next time you judge someone on their nationality or race, think would you even stare at a black piece of paper like that?

The only thing we should separate by colour is washing not people.


Record number of Reading student get first choice secondary school place

A record number of students have had an offer of their first preference for secondary school place in Reading this year.

First preference offers stand at 73% this year, compared to 64% in 2019 and 66% in 2018. This means that more than 90% of students got their first (73%), second (12%) or third (6%) choice, which is 91% overall.

The number of students not allocated any of their preferences decreased from 12.28% last year to 7.45% this year.

Reading Girls has increased in popularity again this year and the WREN School, Highdown School and Maiden Erlegh, Reading all continue to be popular choices.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), which delivers education services in Reading on behalf of Reading Borough Council, has made sure all secondary school pupils in the borough have a place for September, despite fierce competition for places.

Last year on National Offer Day, there were no surplus places in Reading schools but this year, BFfC has a surplus of 92 across Reading.

‘We’ve been planning since last year to ensure more school places are available for the start of term in September,’ said Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at Brighter Futures for Children.

‘We have a statutory duty to provide every child who had an on-time application with a school place on National Offer Day. Due to this increased demand, Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School will create an additional class.

‘Based on parental preference, we knew we’d need more because 200 additional residents chose to apply for a Reading school place for their child last year.

‘We’d like to thank all our schools for working so hard with us and for being so accommodating. Reading secondary schools are becoming increasingly popular, which is good news,’ she added.

The surplus spaces will no doubt be taken by late applications, which come in after the closure of the second round. Currently there are 90 late applications, which means the 92 surplus spaces will go very quickly.

The percentage of pupils allocated to schools outside Reading was 29.19% this year, 26.44% 2019 28.52% 2018, 37.39% in 2017 and 34.78% in 2016.

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Bulmershe 85 81 69 107 78
Oakbank 46 40 58 59 50
Maiden Erlegh 32 30 26 30 28
Little Heath 136 106 117 156 131
Denefield 81 75 74 81 88
Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge 84 101 80 128 118

 

The table above includes the schools in which we place most children out of borough.

ENDS

Note to Editors:
Brighter Futures for Children began operating on December 3, 2018. We are a not-for-profit company, wholly owned but independent of Reading Borough Council. We have responsibility for the delivery of children’s services, early help, education and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in the borough.


Launch of new mental health service for Reading’s young people

Logo - Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation TrustMental Health Support Team LogoBrighter Futures for Children is delighted to be part of an innovative trailblazer project in Reading offering additional mental health services to children and young people.

The official launch of the Mental Health Support Team (MHST) takes place on Thursday, 30 January, 1.30-3pm at Blessed Hugh Faringdon School, Fawley Road, Reading RG30 3EP.

The aim is to support children and young with mental health and wellbeing needs who may not reach the threshold to be a diagnosable mental health disorder.

The MHST is part of a Reading-wide systemic approach to improving mental health for children and young people. Brighter Futures for Children is working in partnership with the NHS Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, which is funding the project, to form the MHST.

The MHST will offer low intensity interventions to support children and young people (and their families) who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems, focusing particularly on low mood, anxiety and behavioural difficulties. The aim is to help prevent more serious problems developing.

‘This is a great initiative and one we wouldn’t have been able to do without the full support of the CCG,’ said Brighter Futures for Children’s managing director Tony Kildare. ‘The mental wellbeing of all children and young people is very important to us and we hope others in the ONE Reading Partnership will also support us with the delivery of this important area of work.’

Cathy Winfield, Chief Officer for Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We’re delighted to be part of this project and to be working with partners to help improve the mental wellbeing of children and young people.”

The MHST, which is initially being launched across schools in West Reading, complements existing mental health support already provided in schools and by existing professionals and services, such as school-based counsellors, educational psychologists, school nurses, school pastoral care teams, educational welfare officers, voluntary sector organisations and CAMH services.

Leaflets and posters will be distributed across schools included in the pilot project, which will tell pupils and staff how to access the service. An additional offer is an online form which children and young people can fill in and send in themselves. This will be placed on Brighter Futures for Children’s website (www.brighterfuturesforchildren.org/MHST-referral-form) and on the Local Offer on the Reading Services Guide.

At the launch on 30 January, a group of students from Blessed Hugh Faringdon will perform their own drama production to highlight the issues around mental health as they perceive them.

They will then lead a Q & A session after this to share their experiences and thoughts around mental health and invite questions.

Senior leaders from Brighter Futures for Children, Reading Borough Council and the NHS Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group will be at the event to introduce the initiative and join in the Q&A session.


Record number of Reading pupils get grades A*- E this year

THE number of students achieving A-level grades A*-E has increased in Reading, according to provisional figures collated by Brighter Futures for Children.

Ninety eight per cent of students gained A*-E grades this year compared with 94 per cent last year, an increase of 4%.

There was a very slight dip in A*-B grades, with 58 per cent of students achieved A*-B across the borough, in-line with the national picture, compared with 62 per cent last year but this year beats 2017’s figure of 57 per cent.

A total of 606 students took A Levels in Reading this year, compared with 691 last year and 673 in 2017.

The number of young people achieving A*-C passes was 78 per cent compared with 77 per cent in 2018.

This is the first year that results have come out where education services are run by Brighter Futures for Children, the not-for-profit company which delivers children’s services, including children’s social care, early help, education and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service on behalf of Reading Borough Council.

Tony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said:

‘These results show just how good Reading schools are. They’re a culmination of individual students’ hard work but also a great deal of effort by the schools themselves, and organisations like ours, which offers support to schools, to help them thrive and prosper. It’s no wonder that requests for secondary school placements in Reading are increasing.

‘So we congratulate all those students who got the grades they wanted but, if you didn’t, don’t worry. There are plenty of opportunities still available to you. We have recently taken over an advisory service for young people, and we can offer support and help on further training and employment opportunities.

‘Our advisors are based in Reading Central Library in Abbey Square on the third floor. You can contact them by email: ParticipationandEngagement@brighterfuturesforchildren.org  or call 01189 372 204.’

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“Today the hard work of students and teachers in schools across Reading has paid off and I would like to congratulate all of those who have achieved great A-level results.

“Behind all the statistics are stories of individuals who have dedicated a great deal of time and effort over a number of years to achieve their grades. For those students that didn't quite get the grades they were hoping for, I urge them to seek the available support and take time to find the correct next steps in their career path.

“I wish all young people who received their results today every success for the future whatever path they choose to take next.”

 


Children in care film gets standing ovation

An inspirational film, made by and for children in care, got a standing ovation at its premiere in Reading recently.

The film, which is almost four minutes long, is an emotional, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting account of young people's experiences of coming into care and of being in care.

Our young people in care wanted to create the film as a way of reassuring others coming into care that it would be okay.

'The young people were totally committed to helping improve the experiences of others coming into care, as well as having their voices and views heard,' said Brighter Futures for Children's Managing Director Tony Kildare.

'The end result is an inspiring film, which left everyone at the premiere filled with pride and in awe of their amazing achievement,' he added.

The film became a reality thanks to TellyJuice, the London-based creative video agency who gave their time and creativity free to produce a brilliant film for us.

'TellyJuice turned the  young people's dreams of making a film into a reality and we can't thank them enough,' said Catie Blundell, Brighter Futures for Children's Participation Officer, who works with the children and young people on ways to have their voices and views heard.

The young people spent a creative day at TellyJuice writing their thoughts and feelings about being in care and about their foster carers on colourful cards. To protect their identities, then held the cards up and recorded the voice over for the film.

At the end of the young people's powerful messages, a song, called 'Thank You' which is dedicated to our Foster Carers was played. The song was written and performed by two of the young people and was recorded at Readipop,  the Reading-based music and arts charity which, again, gave us their expertise and studio time free of charge.

The film had its premiere at a special showing, thanks to the generosity of The Vue Cinema, Reading, in front of 130 invited guests.

The film is now widely available on our social media sites and on our website at www.brighterfuturesforchildren.org and is rapidly clocking up views.

'Our young people have helped allay the fears for many children coming into care, as well as promoting the fantastic work of our foster carers.

'We're hoping it will also encourage more people in Reading to come forward as foster carers with us, to help enhance the lives of our children and young people by offering them the same level of care - both short and long-term - and to keep them in Reading, where, together, we can offer them a brighter future,' said Mr Kildare.

View the film at www.brighterfuturesforchildren.org

Facebook: @BFfCChild

Twitter: @BFfC_Child

 


Young people in care speak out through poetry

Young people in care who took part in an eight-week poetry course, called Spoken Word, Spoken Mind, read their poems out to an invited audience as part of Reading Fringe Festival recently.

Brighter Futures for Children worked together with local organisations to bring the project about and provide an opportunity for the children to express themselves creatively.

Led by local Reading poet Becci Fernley, the Spoken Word, Spoken Mind workshops took place all over Reading, in venues organised by the Reading Fringe Festival. Each week Becci inspired the young people to open up about their thoughts and feelings about being in care and to use these as a basis for some powerful poetry.

The idea for the project came from Connect Reading's Kirsti Wilson whose organisation's very ethos is to join local companies and charities together to help the local community.

'Children who come into care often have adverse childhood experiences and find it difficult to express themselves or to make sense fo what they've experienced,' said Catie Blundell, Brighter Futures for Children's Participation Officer, 'The Spoken Word provided our young people with an opportunity to combine expression with learning the art of poetry and the results were amazing,' Catie added.

The project was part-funded by the Arts Council, through Reading Fringe Festival and through Supt Stan Gilmour, Thames  Police's Commander for Reading, who support trauma-informed practice across the borough. That funding was kindly sourced for us by Connect Reading.

The highlight of the project was participation in a closed event, as part of Reading Fringe Festival, to 130 invited guests at The Vue cinema, Reading.