Meet Rachel.... Our Children's Services Officer Rachel has been busy making sure our young people, supported in our boarding programme, are safe during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Find out what her vital job involves below... What does your job involve? The main role of the Children’s Services Officer is to support vulnerable young people and their families. I help ensure each young person has the chance to reach their full potential and is exposed to opportunities for educational and personal growth. One way in which we do this is by funding young people through boarding school education, where they can thrive socially and academically. I am the primary contact at Reedham Children's Trust for the Assisted Boarders we support, as well as their families and the academic and pastoral staff at their boarding school. There are three main aspects of the role: 1. To make sure the boarding placement is secure and the right fit for the young person. It has to be somewhere where they will feel supported not only with their learning, but also pastorally. Being away from home can be hard, so a nurturing and stable environment is important. 2. To build a relationship with the young person and their family so they know they have someone in their corner, supporting them through their education. This happens through home and school visits, phone call check in’s, and events organised to bring Reedham Children's Trust supported students together. 3. Monitoring the placement. This involves checking that students have access to wider learning opportunities and might involve finding funding for sports kits or trips, for example. Also checking if the young person is engaging with their learning and any aspirations they have that we can help support. How has Covid-19 impacted the young people we care for? Lots of the young people we support attend boarding school because there are elements at home that make studying and/or living there challenging. This can range from being a young carer, where a parent or sibling is physically or mentally ill, to loss of a parent, or conflict in the home. Covid 19 has led to the majority of the young people we support being back at home, as boarding houses have closed, and for some this change in environment has been very difficult. There isn’t always the space or resources to study to the best of their ability, or if a parent or sibling is unwell , the emotional stresses during this time can be high. How have you been able to help? One of my tasks at the beginning of the lockdown, was to reach out to families and schools to see what additional needs had emerged. For many it was practical support to enable them to continue their school work, for example, I organised laptops for several of the young people we support and internet access for others. Lots of lessons and resources are taking place online, and it’s vital that the young people we support don’t miss out due to lack of resource. I have also helped facilitate food parcels for families, and been a voice on the end of the phone when needed. A big part of my job is advocacy; I listen to any concerns /needs from the family and then liaise with School pastoral leads, house-parents and teachers. By asking questions like, 'Can you access your learning?' and ask the School questions such as 'Has the student been making progress?'. We play an important role in solving problems early on so that our young people can make the most of their learning. What do you most enjoy about your job? Hearing about the young people's achievements and aspirations is a wonderful part of the role. I also enjoy chatting with and getting to know families; hearing from them how much they value the support is really rewarding.