Collaboration is a powerful tool that has the ability to strengthen bonds, and enhance the quality of services delivered to our young people in the long-term – particularly among those who need it most.
At Fight for Peace, we have recently teamed up with New Directions and Tunmarsh School, two local Newham Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) who provide alternative education to children and young people who are not in mainstream school.
Fight for Peace Academy Director, Jean-Pierre Moore, shares his enthusiasm for this new partnership, and talks to us about some of the benefits of coming together to strengthen the delivery of our services:
Jean-Pierre Moore: Our Academy in North Woolwich sits right next to the Pupil Referral Unit, New Directions, who we have had a relationship with over the last couple of years. Currently, New Directions has been using our gym space to hold their P.E. sessions, and this has been a great way to begin forming our relationship, and make sure young people are aware of the services available.
Often, young people enrolled in PRUs don’t necessarily have access to services like ours, and they can be some of the most vulnerable young people in the country. The risk factors for some are very challenging, and sometimes the barriers they have to overcome once they’ve entered into a PRU can be really difficult. So this is an innovative idea to try and offer as much support directly to young people where they are most vulnerable, and most accessible.
So, we have to give a big shout out to Kirsten Macleod – the Head Teacher of Newham PRUs, who has championed the idea of bringing a wide range of specialists to work in partnership within the school grounds; as a part of their Multi Agency Specialist Taskforce (MAST).
Newham PRUs have supported us to recruit a full-time Youth Practitioner from Fight for Peace, who will be co-located between our Academy and their two school premises.
At Fight for Peace, we know that there’s a period of time for a student during the transition from school to home that is sometimes called ‘the missing hours’ – this is a time often before parents and guardians return home from work between the hours of 3pm – 6pm. This period can increase the risk of young people becoming involved in things outside of the home that don’t serve their best interests, which is why one of our aims here is to engage young people at our Academy during these key hours, and beyond.
We have some incredible sports facilities and a wide range of support services, while New Directions and Tunmarsh School work with a lot of young people who we would like to ensure have easy access to all of these opportunities.
We believe in the power of building relationships, which is why it is so important to have a full-time Fight for Peace Youth Practitioner present on site with the students, as a direct bridge to our service.
Having this ‘face of the programme’ committed to identifying young people who could benefit from our services, and provide the sensitivity needed to understand an individual young person’s need, will enable us to build on the trust between Fight for Peace and the young people referred from the PRUs.
It’s also about raising awareness within our community of the work that we do here at Fight for Peace. We provide different ways of education for young people, as well as a diverse range of sports to learn about themselves. Through practising martial arts, leadership skills, engaging in employability support and alternative education, young people can implement discipline, set and achieve goals, and be positive and healthy.
So the PRU gets access to our facilities and our practitioners, and we get the ability to influence and offer services for children and young people who most deserve the opportunities. It seemed like a win on all levels!
As we look to the future, we hope that the students from the PRUs will feel motivated to be under our roof every day of the week. And we intend to do that through proximity, through time, through presence, through young people sensing our authenticity, and through them seeing that we are consistent in what we do.
We are really happy to be working in partnership with New Directions and Tunmarsh School, and all of the teachers who have been extremely supportive and great to work with so far, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this partnership!