Each month we feature an inspirational individual or team who overcome barriers to make a real difference in their communities. This month we see how a very special partnership between Harrow School and social care provider, Certitude, has developed into a meaningful relationship for both sides.
Harrow School runs an initiative called Shaftesbury Enterprise which encourages its pupils to work with some of the most vulnerable in its local community. Last September the school approached Certitude to be its charity of the year.
What began as a fundraising partnership – the school raised a large sum for Certitude through its annual Long Ducker running race – has blossomed into a deeper, ongoing alliance. Through Tim Dalton, the Director of Shaftesbury Enterprise, and Alice Rankin, who manages Certitude’s support for adults with learning disabilities in Harrow, the partnership has become much more than an exchange of funds. The boys make weekly visits to the adults supported by Certitude and they are often invited back to the school for assemblies and events, the boys help out with decorating and gardening and joint activities like football matches, ‘accessible rounders’ in the park and parties are a regular event.
Friendships and fun
Orlando Morris, the boys’ representative on the Shaftesbury Enterprise, says the experience has been fun:
“I had never met anyone with a significant learning disability before this so the last 18 months have been really enlightening. I love coming to the house every week – it’s great fun, we just get stuck in and get involved. I feel like I’ve made real connections with the people here and I think they like seeing us. Certitude used some of the money from the Long Ducker Run to redecorate some of the houses so we helped with that and also with gardening. I’ve learned a lot from the whole experience – both about people and on a practical level.”
At first Alice Rankin, Certitude’s service manager, was concerned that there might not be any common interests between a group of teenage boys and adults with learning disabilities:
“It turns out I was so wrong! Through their enthusiasm, commitment and kindness the boys have challenged our bias and assumptions. Working in the care sector with adults who have learning disabilities, we certainly champion inclusion, yet we were equally capable of holding stereotypes towards teenage boys.
“In fact, the boys have genuinely taught us so much. They join with the people in our services every week and have started to form genuine and mutual friendships. The noise, chaos and mess (and sheer volume teenage boys can eat!) at the cooking sessions are definitely the highlight to my Monday, and a firm favourite with the people we support.”
Earlier this year, Fiona, who is supported by Certitude, was invited to speak at a Harrow School assembly. Fiona is someone who has a lot to say but doesn’t use speech to communicate. She really benefitted from the iPad and ProLoQuo2Go app which the boys’ fundraising helped to buy, and she used this technology to help her thank over 600 boys at the assembly. This experience has boosted her confidence to communicate – and get about – even more. She is currently on safari in Africa!
Tim Dalton is delighted by the ongoing relationship with Certitude:
“A large part of Shaftesbury Enterprise is to develop ongoing relationships with organisations supporting vulnerable people in our community. We don’t think it’s enough just to fundraise, we want to offer hands-on, ongoing support which enables the boys to understand how their fundraising is making a difference and the variety of challenges people face in life.
“The boys clearly benefit from the relationship and it’s wonderful to see how they are enriched by the experience and the opportunity to be with people who have an authenticity and candor that many of us suppress.”
To find out more about Certitude and the services they provide, please visit www.certitude.org.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org