Success for St. Michaels after-school club

11 July 2017


“We made healthy food 'monsters'.  The children designed their monsters and we made them using fruits, veg and nuts.  In the process they tried loads of foods they hadn't tried before,” says FFT’s Maxine Lambert.

Home Club is an after-school club where children living on the St. Michael’s Way site discover more about school and learn to develop their skills and confidence.

The club is ran by Maxine Lambert and inspired by educator Kay Evans

Every week children come to pick up essential writing ability, basic maths and life skills. Home Club is a comfortable, fun space where children find out more about themselves as people, learn how their actions affects others and focus on their wishes for the future.

Amazing response

The after-school club was set up after the Traveller Education Support Unit let us know that children need to develop ’ready for school skills’ such as speaking and listening, turn-taking and learning to follow rules and instructions. The project has been developed using information from the children and families themselves, the Traveller Liaison team, health visitors, our own organisation (FFT). The response to Home Club has been so good that we don’t have enough spaces for everyone who wants to come along.

 Great incentive to stay in school

 Home Club is only available for children going to school. But it’s working as a great incentive to encourage children out of school to attend. The Traveller Education Teacher helps the children get to know the school staff, which makes the young people feel more confident and supported. Home Club has resulted in more children going to school – particularly among those on the transit site who weren’t receiving any education prior to Home Club.

When asked 'Does Home Club make you more happy and confident?' Frankie (7) said: “Yes because it's less fun at school - you can't play with paint or make anything.”

Secondary school encouragement

 We’re also working hard to make sure Year 7 children who aren’t at school will go on to secondary school. *A report relating to Gypsy and Traveller Children in Sussex states that many young Travellers leave school at primary age but wish to go to Sixth Form College to obtain qualifications for employment. This can be extremely challenging for young Travellers who don’t have the necessary reading and writing skills required for qualifications for many trades. This is challenging, though we’re confident of getting good results in the future.

Abi (13) is helping out with Home Club as a volunteer.  She said "I loved helping the children learn about sea and sun safety this week.  They really enjoyed the creative activities!”

Fire safety

 We are working with the fire brigade education department to help prevent accidents and make young people more aware of their actions. For example, some Traveller children have dangerous tendencies with fireworks where they might hold them or use milk bottles to set them off. We have also requested that the Fire Brigade prepare some Traveller-focused information for children on ways to evacuate a trailer or chalet rather than a house. When we receive this information we will share it nationally to benefit Traveller children across the country.

 Animal wellbeing

 “The children wanted a dog parade, so we made posters to advertise it, and put them around St. Michael’s site,” says Maxine Lambert.

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There is an ongoing learning programme that encourages Traveller children to be aware of animal wellbeing, especially regarding dogs and horses which is supported by the Dogs Trust and the PDSA.

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 The Dog’s Trust visited us in November and said this of their experience:-
“We were incredibly impressed with the children’s empathy and understanding of what it means to be a responsible dog owner and we learned about the impact dog poo can have on hygiene. Teaching compassion, care and respect towards animals can also enrich children’s lives in many other ways.”

“The kids were great and demonstrated that they knew well how to pick up poo!  The children were delighted that the PDSA nurse had brought in a dogs worm in a jar!” says Maxine Lambert

Anita said she, “loved the creative side of Home Club”.

Health and happiness

 Each term we plan activities relevant for that time of year, for example sea safety with the RNLI in summer. We’ll also be covering how to stay safe online, sun safety and possibly ‘bike-ability’ onsite. We will continue to respond and support any concerns to improve the children’s health and wellbeing and will focus on any opportunities to help them thrive.

“We had a visit from the school nurses - and looked at healthy bodies,” says Maxine Lambert.

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 “We had a presentation on healthy teeth - the children couldn't believe that a milkshake had up to 20 lumps of sugar in it!” says Maxine Lambert.

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Martin said he was really happy that his dog won the dog parade.  He said, “I enjoyed having the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA in to show us how to care for dogs”.

FFTs Sarah Mann said, “We are proud of Maxine she has been so creative in making a happy learning environment”.

 Friends Families and Travellers would like to thank the Downlands Educational Trust and also The Irish Youth foundation and Suffolk Police and Crime Commission for their additional support.