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Can Stress Ever be Useful? Our Young People on the Palm Tree Project Find Out!

July 5th, 2018

We’ve all felt it, those butterflies and the tight knot in our stomach. Stress can help us cope and take action when needed and give us motivation. However stress can also become too much. Too much of the negative kind can lead to us struggling to cope.
Stress was this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in May. On the Palm Tree Project, young people discussed what makes them stressed and what helps them cope.

Understanding how stress can also be useful helps to see this as a more balanced issue in life and not just one of negativity. Finding out what makes us stressed and what relieves our stress can be even more useful. A tool that can help make sense of this is the stress container (also sometimes called a stress bucket) tool designed by the Mental Health Foundation of England. Have a look for yourself, and share with anyone who might find it useful!

The stress-relieving activities offered by young people below are listening to music, playing guitar or cricket, and talking to friends. Young people found these things help them either discuss things that make them stressed and feel better about them, or provide a distraction from these- which makes them feel better. Talking about what helps you cope even when you feel good can be very important. It helps you remember in times when you do really need them, even though they could be the simplest of things, they can make a big difference!

The Palm Tree Project works with Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children under the care of Kent Social Services, aged between 13-18 years. The project uses mentoring, art and music sessions to support better mental health and well-being. Contact Gwen in Maidstone on 01622 690 857 or at gwenvanstappen@asphaleia.co.uk to find out more.

         

Health Assessment and Immunisation for our UASC Young People

June 26th, 2018

Refugees and Asylum seekers are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. They represent a wide range of different cultures, languages and backgrounds. By definition, an asylum seeker or refugee is fleeing persecution and is seeking protection, however they will each have individual experience, some may be fleeing war or torture or sexual violence and have a wide range of physical and psychological needs.

Here at asphaleia we support them every day with all their basic needs: cooking, cleaning, registering them to school, GP, dentist, etc.

For example we assist each of them to have an initial health assessment for conditions as TB and other diseases and also their mental health.

The asylum seekers arriving in the UK usually have limited records of immunisation and frequently have not had any at all so once they have been registered with a GP we book them appointments to have three courses of immunisations.

All our young people are very nervous when they hear about vaccinations, but on the day, a nurse will explain which immunisations they will receive and answer any questions they may have.

They will receive their immunisations by injection, usually in the thigh or upper arm and the vaccines will protect against: hepatitis B, measles, polio, rubella, tetanus.

All the UASC clients are very relieved once they have finished the courses and often admit they were scared for nothing!

asphaleia care provides housing and outreach support services for UASC (unaccompanied asylum seeking children) in West Sussex, West London, Croydon and Kent.

 

 

 

What Does Ramadan Mean to You? An Interview with a Young Person

June 26th, 2018

Ramadan is an important month in the Islamic calendar. It took place from 15th of May to 14th of June, this year. One of our care team interviewed one of our young people to find out what this celebration represents and how they manage to get through the fast:

CB: Hi M can you explain  to me what Ramadan is?

M: During the month of Ramadan, Muslims won’t eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. This is called fasting and is important during Ramadan as it allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah, or God.

Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which form the basis of how Muslims live their lives. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, but the date changes each year because the Islamic calendar is based on the cycles of the moon.

CB: What does Ramadan represent for you?

M: Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, I cannot spend time with my family anymore as they have passed away but I am surrounded by friends.

CB: How do you feel during fasting?

M: Fasting is not easy and I usually have a meal just before sunrise and another directly after sunset. Before going to sleep I drink milk mixed with water.

CB: What do you do at the end of the fast each day?

M: When the sun has gone down – families and friends will get together for iftar to break their fast. Very often we also go to the mosque to pray.

CB: Does everybody fast?

M: No, not everybody fasts during Ramadan. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and those who are ill or who are travelling don’t have to fast.

CB: What happens when Ramadan ends?

M: There is a special three-day festival to mark the end of Ramadan. This is called Eid al-Fitr – the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. It begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky.

Muslims will not only celebrate the end of fasting, but will also thank Allah for the help and strength that He gave them throughout the previous month.

asphaleia care provides housing services for UASC (unaccompanied asylum seeking children) in West Sussex, West London, and Croydon.

 

Charity Shopping in Kent with our Outreach Service

June 26th, 2018

This week in Kent we have been visiting charity shops as part of a budgeting session. These sessions tend to be interactive practical sessions in which we think of various ways we can save money. Charity shops are often a new concept to the young people most are pleasantly surprised at the hidden treasures that can be found within. As well as how much money can be saved buying clothing, furniture and household items from them.

      

Another part of the budgeting session includes writing a budgeting plan to highlight other areas in which money can be saved. Mobile phones are often an area in which money can be saved and so we look at various network deals and work out which would be the most practical and best value for the young person. Hopefully, following these sessions, the young people become more money conscious and a little more savvy at hunting out those bargains.

Referrals are being taken for Outreach support, for enquiries please email referrals@asphaleia.co.uk. This service provides one to one support for young Asylum Seekers and Refugees, teaching them independent living and self care skills. The topics covered vary depending on the areas that the young person requires support with, thereby creating a package of outreach support that is tailored to meet individual targets and goals.

Facebook Tops List of Sites Used for Online Grooming

June 18th, 2018

Figures show that since April 2017:

  • 32.6% of grooming cases involved the use of Facebook
  • 18.8% of grooming cases used the Facebook owned apps Instagram and WhatsApp
  • The second most-used app in grooming cases was Snapchat.1

Figures released by the Home Office on 26th April 2018 show that the total number of police-recorded grooming offences for the first 9 months of 2016/17, including both the offence of meeting a child following grooming and the new offence of sexual communication with a child, was 2,966. (NSPCC, 2018)

Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe online:

  • Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
  • Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself.  Once you’ve put  a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
  • Keep your privacy settings as high as possible.
  • Never give out your passwords.
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know.
  • Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online.  Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do.
  • Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are.
  • Think carefully about what you say before you post something online.
  • Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude.
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately.

 If you are a young person, carer or professional and need further support with keeping children and young people safe online, please contact headoffice@asphaleia.co.uk for more information or to speak with one of our SAFE project workers based in Worthing, London and Kent.

Slipping Through The Net – 16 and 17 Year Old Victims of CSE

June 18th, 2018

16 and 17 can be both exciting and anxious ages; about to become an adult but no longer a child, these teenagers are expected to make choices about what to do with their lives, and without the right support they could become vulnerable to CSE (child sexual exploitation).

The Children’s Society states on its website that:

“We know from our own specialist services that people who sexually exploit children particularly prey on the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds. They will go to great lengths to target vulnerable young people, using gifts, affection, money, alcohol, drugs – or the promise of love. Victims are commonly teenagers in the care system, with backgrounds of abuse and neglect, learning disabilities or with mental health problems.”

Children of any age can be victims of CSE, but young people aged 16 and 17 often find that even though children’s services have a duty to step in and provide support for them when they are experiencing serious difficulties in their lives, for many 16 and 17 year olds, support is too short term, does not help them prepare for adulthood and can disappear overnight when they reach 18.

16 and 17 year olds can legally consent to sex if they are within a healthy relationship, but because of this legality there is often a dangerous lack of understanding amongst professionals that these teenagers can also be groomed and exploited just as easily as younger children. Many older teens are not seen as victims, as it is assumed that they have ‘consented’ to their abuse.

The Law:

 

0 – 12   – Children this age are fully protected.  Sexual offences against any child under

13 are always crimes.

 

13 – 15 – Children aged 13 – 15 cannot legally consent to sex, they are protected, but

only if the defendant cannot reasonably believe the child was 16.  This is

thought of as the ‘grey age’.

 

16 – 17 – As this age group can legally consent to sex, they are only protected in very

limited circumstances e.g. cases of sexual abuse by a family member, person

in a position of trust, pornography or what used to be known  as ‘prostitution-

related’ offences.

16 and 17 year olds are just as likely to be referred into children’s services as younger children; clearly the level of need for older teens does not diminish as they approach adulthood.  However, the overall accepted referrals for this age group are 1 in 16.  Statistically, most of the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds may also be not in education, employment or training and potentially fall through the cracks in the services.

asphaleia’s safe project in West Sussex takes referrals for young people from the age of 10 up until 25.  We recognise and understand that just because the young person is an older teenager or even a young adult, this does not automatically make them less vulnerable to CSE and our support does not stop once they reach 18.

Do you know a young person aged 16 or 17, who needs support with a relationship, staying safe online or could be at risk of CSE?  To make a referral, or to find out more about our project and how we can help, please email kayjones@asphaleia.co.uk/ rubygarnham@asphaleia.co.uk or call us on 01903 522966.

  

National Volunteers Week 2018

June 12th, 2018

Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.

At asphaleia, volunteers are an integral part of our delivery. In our training venture, they provide valuable classroom support that can make all the difference to those learners who can’t keep up with the pace of the lesson.

One service in particular could not operate at all without its 19 volunteers. That is the Independent Visiting Service. Part of our care venture, it is a service we are contracted to run for London Borough of Bromley.

It is a befriending service that matches one adult volunteer to a young person in care. The volunteer (IV) will visit that young person once a month and take them out to do activities. It is intended to be a consistent, supportive relationship that can make an immense difference in the young person’s life. Special mention goes to our longest serving IV, Jason, who has been visiting his young person for over four years.

All of our visitor’s offer up their time for free, whilst working full or part-time and having families or other commitments. In a recent feedback survey sent to our young people, all of them stated that having a visitor was ‘Good/Excellent’. When asked what their visitor has helped them with, some responses were:

‘I can talk to her about things.’

‘Making new friends.’

‘I managed to travel to Croydon and back by myself.’

asphaleia’s Managing Director, Laura Thorpe, says;

Significant and unique support volunteers give to our organisation in helping young people to believe in themselves and reach their potential. Volunteers are sacrificial and selfless in giving of their time,  care and effort. Generally they have busy lives and they still give more wanting to make a difference. We appreciate them and we are so glad we can support volunteers’ week to recognise and celebrate who they are. 

On behalf of all at asphaleia, we want to say a huge…

… To ALL our volunteers for the fantastic work you do with our young people.

To enquire about becoming a volunteer with us, please email recruitment@asphaleia.co.uk. 

What Can I Expect Once I am a Foster Carer?

May 24th, 2018

When you join asphaleia, you join a team of people highly motivated to work with children and young people. You are included in staff events, training and participate in our successful Personal Development programme.

Whether you join us as an experienced foster carer or are considering fostering for the first time, we provide the environment to help you grow as a unique individual and professional carer. We offer support tailored to your unique fostering situation that will facilitate your success.

We will provide you with training to ensure that you have the knowledge base needed to carry out the fostering task. Training will include safe caring practices, behaviour management, first aid etc, so that you know what is expected of you. In addition, you will have a Supervising Social Worker who is responsible for assessing and addressing your ongoing needs as a carer. You will also have regular supervision sessions.

If you want to make an enquiry, please call us on 01903 522966.

        

How Do I Become a Foster Carer?

May 22nd, 2018

Once you have decided to be an asphaleia foster carer and made the call to us we will arrange to visit you. Your assessment process can take up to six months. Our supervising social worker will tell you more about the assessment process at your home visit, as it can look different for each new carer.

Don’t forget, you can contact the office at anytime on 01903 522966. 

We know there is a lot of information to consider when deciding whether you would like to become a foster carer. We want to make the process as smooth for you and your family as possible.

A home visit is an informal meeting between our supervising social worker and you in your home. They last up to one hour and are booked at a time suitable to you, whether it be during the day or in the evening. Home visits provide us with an opportunity to get to know each other better, without the formal setting of an office. We will ask you questions such as why are you interested in fostering, what age group you would prefer to foster, how do your own children feel about your fostering etc. You can also ask us any questions that you have.

It is the ideal time for us to discuss with you whether application is right for you or other steps you can take to help you consider the commitment fully. Any member of your household who will be applying to be a carer (husband, child over age of 21, other relative etc) must be present at this meeting.

Whilst it is an informal meeting, your home visit is an opportunity for us to assess you. If we do not feel you are ready to proceed with an application at this point, we will tell you following this visit.

After your home visit, if you feel you would like to apply to join our agency, you will be able to do so. We will be unable to accept your application until you have had this initial home visit.

    

Who Can Be a Foster Carer?

May 17th, 2018

The requirements for becoming a foster carer are quite simple. At asphaleia, we are looking for energetic people with a passion for children and young people, as well as an interest in learning and developing their skills, being flexible, patient and an ongoing commitment to training is essential. If you think you fit what we are looking for, you could be joining our team very soon!

To be a foster carer you must:

  • Be over 21
  • Have a spare room

You can foster if:

  • You are single
  • You work
  • You rent your home
  • You have one or more spare bedrooms
  • You are in a same-sex relationship
  • You are retired
  • You have no experience of working with children
  • You have your own family
  • You are divorced
  • You would prefer to only foster babies
  • You do not have any qualifications

Please call us on 01903 522966 to find out more about being a foster carer.