Let me tell you about Jo…our Homeless Families Project Lead and her new adventure.
Jo is fueled by passion for her community, for equality, and for positive change.
After learning about a family’s story and their ongoing struggles in temporary accommodation, Jo’s passion was ignited and she started digging….
Through tireless working, Jo established there arecurrently 1200 homeless families in Manchester alone, an increase from 140 families, 2 years ago. The current figures equate to around 3000 children – and the numbers are ever increasing.
These families’ lives are disrupted greatly. They are moved to B&B accommodation for 1 to 6 weeks, before being ‘settled’ into temporary housing. More often than not, this is away from the place they know well, and their friends and family. Children are either uprooted from the school they know to new schools, or kept in their current school with the financial and travelling burden that comes with a move further away.
Lives are put on hold, whilst they hope for resolution to come. In practice this resolution often doesn’t come for several years. And there are around 160 new cases per month.
We don’t think that this can be the best way, and we will advocate for these families and are fighting for change.
In the meantime, Jo has come up with a plan – a plan to show value to kids and parents, to grow a community and to bring back fun! FOREST SCHOOL!
Jo explains: “Forest School provides an opportunity for children to explore their own ideas, creativity and understanding of the world they are in. By providing a setting where they feel secure, they are able to recognise their own talents and skills and grow in confidence, whilst having a little adventure”.
Last week, I was lucky enough to join her and her team at Forest School and it was ‘Families Week’, where parents, siblings, cousins, carers and anyone considered family was invited to join.
The children took such delight in showing their parents how to build swings, make ‘forest
stew’ (a lovely mixture of herbal tea, leaves, mud and sticks) and find loads of creepy crawlies hiding away in the undergrowth. They showed their families where the boundaries of their forest area were, boundaries they themselves had defined by where they felt safe.
New friends were introduced and skills learnt, taught forward.
In a few weeks, Jo is running ‘Bee Squad’ – a week long holiday club. I’m sure there will be a lot of fun had there too.
As Jo connects and builds the trust of the families she’s working with; hearing
more of the stories they need to tell, her drive to move this project forward grows.
We are learning more about how we can be stronger, more informed advocates and better meet the needs of our communities.
We will continue to strive for, and action, new ways to make impact and change – our adventure is just beginning.