CSJ Alliance News 14 December 2009

The CSJ starts new policy work in the New Year, with the launch of a CSJ Working Group on Elder Care and CSJ Alliance members and other voluntary groups have been invited to submit evidence. 

If your organisation has something to say about the current state of care for the elderly or ideas for effective care, then please be in touch. This will be a great opportunity to have your voice heard and to shape our policy work.

Email us your name, organisation and contact details and a paragraph on the sort of evidence or perspective you will share. The CSJ Elder Care Working Group will be in touch with you from January onwards. We'd love to hear from you.


Whitechapel Mission joined the CSJ Alliance this month! Founded in 1876 the Mission, situated in Tower Hamlets, opens its doors 365 days of the year to serve London's homeless. Run by Tony (pictured) and Sue Miller, Whitechapel Mission has served a hot, cooked breakfast to over 1,600 homeless people in London in the last year alone. The breakfast and 5 hour opening time allows the homeless to engage with workers who can refer them to the local drug and alcohol team, move them onto the mission's Life Skills course, access benefits, or get them into housing.

"The average age of our guests," Tony explained to Chris Bullivant, Zoe Briance and Joseph Colman from the CSJ during their visit, "is about 25. 80% are male; 50% are white, Irish or Scottish; 20% second generation Afro-Carribbean; 10% Bangladeshi; and 20% first generation Polish."

The Whitechapel Mission results are impressive, with 107 of their breakfast guests successfully put into flats, 47 in work, and 109 in bed and breakfasts, hotels or returned to their family.

"The work of the mission was inspiring," Zoe Briance said, "with such personal and dedicated commitment from Tony and the volunteers that help including many from neighbouring City firms."


Photo: Tony Millar, Director of Whitechapel Mission, in the clothing store.


We were delighted to meet with Sharon Berry, founder and director of Storybook Dads in Westminster last week. The registered charity, based in Dartmoor prison, aims to maintain family ties and facilitate learning for prisoners and their children by recording stories on CD. Inmates in over 90 prisons are now able to record themselves reading stories to their children. Trained inmates across studios in 15 prisons edit these to add sound effects, music and personal introductions.

"The CDs mean so much to the kids," Sharon Berry told us, "they'll play them 15 times a day, take them with them to grandparents, play them in the car."

The award winning charity is now providing DVD stories with puppets, can work with inmates who are illiterate, and have seen prisoners reading more to practice for their recording sessions. Alongside excellent on-the-job media training for prisoners, the programme helps keep families intact during prison sentences.


Photo: Sharon Berry, founder and Director of Storybook Dads


Based in Harlow, Essex, Streets2Homes is a day care centre and re-housing organisation with an emphasis on providing a friendly, personal touch.

Chris Bullivant, CSJ Projects Director, and Joseph Colman, CSJ Alliance Assistant, visited the charity in Harlow on Thursday 10 December and met with Patsy Dye, Director. They joined the volunteers and guests for a roast beef lunch at the day centre to chat with those who have been affected by the work of Streets2Home.

Roy, a man in his mid-50s, lives in the back of his car and who has been visiting the Day Centre for the last five weeks said, "I didn't realise people like this existed. They lift you up. These people need more newspaper headlines and more government money, the work they do is amazing."

One woman we spoke to said, "The nightmare is over. I was being mentally abused by my husband, I dropped to 4 stone in weight, my confidence was rock bottom, I was mentally ill. Now I've got my own flat, I'm decorating it and I'm back in touch with my grown up kids. It's Patsy and the team, they give you that TLC that you need, that extra bit so that you can tackle your problems."

Along with an allotment, Streets2Homes have a deposit scheme that means they can set people up with tenancies with their list of reputable landlords and mentor them into employment.


Photo: Chris Bullivant, CSJ Projects Director (middle) chats to visitors at the Streets2Homes day centre



CEO of Plymouth-based charity Twelves Company Martine Cotter was invited by James Brokenshire MP to spend a day shadowing him in Parliament last month, following on from the four days he spent with the charity in February 2007 as part of the CSJ's Inner City Challenge. Martine worked with James on preparing parliamentary questions and attending meeting with James. Routine tasks for the MP but far from typical for the Director of Twelves Company which works with male adult survivor's of childhood sexual abuse and prevention-work with vulnerable young people. With thanks to James Brokenshire for arranging the reciprocal visit.



Photo: James Brokenshire and Martine Cotter


Chris Bullivant, CSJ Projects Director, and Joseph Colman, CSJ Alliance Assistant, went to a north London primary school last month to look at a project run by Oxford charity Family Links. They were really impressed with what they saw: a family nurturing course that worked with pupils, parents and teachers with a massive impact on life at school and at home.

The CSJ team visited North Primary School in Southall, who adopted the Family Links Nurturing Programme two years ago. Chris and Joseph spent time with the Year 2 and Year 6 groups, spoke to Year 5 pupils, teachers, the headmistress and local Sure Start employees about the impact of the Family Links course.

"The feedback was emphatic from all quarters," said Chris Bullivant, CSJ Projects Director, "the pupils said this has transformed their school experience in the classroom and the playground, teachers felt energised to nurture as well as more effectively teach kids, whilst some of the parents were very moved by how much the course had equipped them with the basics of being a parent."

Founded in 1997, Family Links have developed a training programme for parents with schools-based work to also help children empathise, communicate, respect themselves and others.

"If anyone working with parents, children or teachers is looking for a course that boosts the emotional resilience of children, the health of a family and equips teachers with useful tools for nurturing students," says Chris Bullivant, CSJ Projects Director, "then get in touch with Family Links!"


Photo: Children at a Family Links course


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