Bonus episode: Working with children

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In this bonus episode, we hear from Caroline Afolabi-Deleu, the Founding Director of Success4All, a Newcastle-based charity that is fighting for education equality. Caroline will be offering up her top tips on how to set up a community business that puts children first.

Read the transcript

Veronica Gordon

Welcome to this bonus episode of Then One Day. In these podcasts, we share tips and advice from community business leaders that we hope will be useful to you if you run a similar project or if you’re looking to start one.

Today, you’ll be hearing from Caroline Afolabi-Deleu, the founding director of Success4All, a Newcastle-based charity that is fighting for education equality. Throughout Caroline’s long career as a modern languages teacher, she’s met many talented, intelligent students who were slipping through the cracks in the system. That’s what inspired Caroline to set up Success4All. It’s fair to say that there are a lot of brilliant ideas out there in terms of improving the lives of our children. But the nuts and bolts of actually running projects with young people requires a unique, and sometimes daunting, set of considerations. So, we put it to Caroline. How do you go about setting up a business that works with children?

 

Caroline Afolabi-Deleu, Success4All 

14 years ago, with a group of parents, concerned parents from the west end of Newcastle and we were all from multi-ethnic backgrounds. We were quite concerned about our children, especially when our children had English as a second language. We wanted to set up a learning club, but we strongly felt that it shouldn’t feel like an extension of the school day; it shouldn’t be a homework club. It was trying to recreate the homely learning environment in a community building. We went to the University of Newcastle and they really liked the idea and they supported us with student volunteers. So basically, our philosophy is based on two African proverbs – one, it takes a whole village to train a child; and second, each one, teach one. Ok. So that translates into our motto, “young people learning from each other”. And now, we say we run collaborative communities of learning, you know, for want of a more sophisticated word for it.

We now help other community groups, setting up their learning hubs and clubs. The way we try to get the homely learning environment is that they come in, they either have refreshments, but all the learning sessions are combined with the club. They start with the cook or finish with the club. So, for example, in one in Throckley, they come in and there’s a “Kids can Cook” programme, because they used to pass by the corner shop and buy pop and crisps and come in very hyper. So now, we run a “Kids can Cook” club and then they have the learning session. And then, we also run summer schools as well; full-time summer schools all around project-based learning, team learning, not death by PowerPoint or worksheets or things like that, with the emphasis on collaborative learning. So, we help community groups, mainly parents or community centre, set up their own learning hubs and clubs. So, we now have eight learning hubs with clubs, and every learning hub decides on their club. There are contributions that we ask parents to pay, but nothing to the level of what you would pay for a tutor because they’re all in less affluent areas. So, for example, a drop-in session is £2.50 but if you want to have a one-to-one tutor for six weeks, it’s £6 per session. So, we generate our own income by delivering those similar services to those clubs and learning hubs to schools, and summer schools sometimes to schools as well. So that’s more or less how we survive. Our mission is to equip and empower young children, young people and their family to build a successful future for themselves.

If you wanted to start working with children, tip number one – really know why you want to work with children, what you want to do and how you want to do it. That needs to be really clear in everybody’s mind before you start.

Second, look at your skill set – your experience and your knowledge. How many of you have worked with children before; have experience? If none of you have any skill set, then I would talk to youth organisations, depending on what you want to do – teachers, even early years practitioners, whatever you want to do with the children, go and seek the advice of somebody.

Tip number three – training; training; training. I can’t say it enough, training. There’s obligatory training that you have to do. All those who are going to be involved with working with children have to do Safeguarding Level One. A lot of city councils, like Newcastle City Council, put it up for free, and a lot of them are online. But you need to know what is safeguarding, and what do you need to do by law.

Tip number four – so once you know what the law says, you need to write your own specific safeguarding policy for what you precisely want to do and for your own settings as well. And then you have to train the people in your own policy and procedure. Again, if you want to train your own people in policy and procedures, you need to have a Level 3 “Train the Trainer” safeguarding certificate. Depending also, you need to have a designated safeguarding lead within your organisation. Again, there’s training for that. A lot of this training is actually free. Find out from other voluntary organisations, some of those training is completely free.

Another tip, definitely, everybody involved with children and young people needs to be DBS checked, needs to do check with disclosure and barring. 16 and over, even your trustees, so your directors, to have access to data of children and young people need to be PPS checked.

It’s very rewarding working with children and young people, and they add a dimension, and they think so far ahead of you and they actually can bring in some really good ideas into your community business. But you need to make sure that everything is in place to keep the child and young person safe. So yes, so my advice is…I hope I’m not scaring people off working with children, but it’s very important that they are kept safe and you are kept safe.

 

Veronica Gordon

Thanks, Caroline, for those great tips. The importance of a community space where all walks of life can go to learn, ask questions, and socialise is something that’s easy to take for granted.

If you feel inspired to make a difference to your community, and want some extra help or advice, please head over to www.powertochange.org.uk for more information and resources.

Thanks to Power to Change who brought you this podcast and to Pixiu for producing. We’ll be back in two weeks’ time but until then, from me, Veronica Gordon, thanks for listening.