Doorsteps, Viva’s partner network in Oxford, which launched four years ago, is continuing to lead a co-ordinated response to some of the most pressing needs facing vulnerable children and young people in the city. Here’s a short update on three key areas of work.
FLOURISHING UNDER 5S
During the autumn, we ran a successful and inspiring morning event for toddler group leaders.
As well as offering leaders the chance just to meet and encourage each other, there was also a session filling out and discussing the Toddler Group Self-Assessment Health and Quality Check followed by two practical training tasters on four subjects: volunteers, learning through play, rhyme time and ‘Sharing God’s Story’. We were grateful for the input from OCVA, the Library Service and the Diocese of Oxford, amongst others.
Attendees appreciated having all aspects of running toddler groups pinpointed and were glad of prompts for thinking about areas which can get overlooked. Two comments received were:
“I enjoyed and appreciated this event and opportunity to define our practice more clearly and set some goals.”
“The event has opened my eyes to things we could be doing in our group. I have gathered ideas and will take them back.”
FIND YOUR FIRE
Find Your Fire, Doorsteps partnership’s bespoke youth programme for developing resilience, confidence and aspiration, enjoyed a really successful autumn term.
There were record numbers of young people not only coming but also staying. All credit to Hannah Woods, Doorsteps Lead Youth Worker, and her marvellous team of youth workers for retaining and multiplying the current cohort.
The away day took place in October at Youlbury and, in Hannah’s words: “Young people’s engagement was incredible, they worked well as a group, and there was the most phenomenal amount of snack-sharing I have ever seen in 13 years of youth work. Almost everyone had brought snacks to share, and they shared with everyone – total lack of cliques or exclusion.”
Spark Groups last term included exploring the new group’s skills base, resilience testing and healthy eating, plus guest speakers on BSL and awareness of hearing impairments, human trafficking and modern day slavery. Last but not least, a past Find Your Fire student presented his Peer Education project ‘Stop the Stare’ on disability awareness.
This term’s guest speakers range from a paramedic to someone from the American air force! In addition, our current youth support worker who completed Find Your Fire last year led a session on ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’.
Just before Christmas we heard the exciting news that our Big Lottery bid had been accepted, meaning full funding for Find your Fire for the next three years.
DOORSTEPS ROUNDTABLE MEETING
In December, Doorsteps hosted a gathering for a number of interested parties to discuss ongoing local needs and brainstorm future action plans.
Organisations represented included various local schools and churches, an Outdoor Pursuits Centre, Fegans, Home for Good, TLG, Safe Families for Children, Kidsmatter, the Diocese of Oxford, and Thames Valley Police.
We heard shocking statistics from various points of view: a primary school Headteacher who has introduced Fegans counselling, an in-school emotional literacy supporter, Oxford City Police Commander and then Bishop Colin. Doorsteps Network Consultant, Katy Thompson, who has been working for Viva right from its inception in the 1990s, introduced Viva’s four tried & tested building blocks for changing the situation for children in a city.
We then looked at ways we are already responding to some of the needs described, as well as brainstorming further ideas for action. Various pilot projects emerged including engaging churches in parenting support, and mapping needs and responses across the city.
We’re delighted that Charlotte Pearson-Miles (right) is our new Doorsteps Partnerships and Events Manager. Having lived, studied and worked in Oxfordshire for most of her life, Charlotte is excited to join the team. She says, “Being a blessing to one’s local community is something I feel passionately about and, of course, we know that God’s heart for Christians is to work together to bless those in need around them”.
Charlotte has worked as an EFL teacher, helping to integrate international children, young people and adults into local communities, and also ran toddler music sessions for nearly 10 years from Hertfordshire to Kenya then back to the UK!