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Five Rivers Child Care celebrates Youth Skills Day

Every year on the 15th July, the United Nations General Assembly celebrate World Youth Skills Day. The day celebrates the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. According to the UN, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 22% of young people around the world were not in employment, education or training.

We know that many of the children and young people in care will have gaps in their education, and we are keen to advocate that not all education has to be academia. For example, through our 1ACE programme, we support those children who have had limited success in formal education settings, or who have struggled in specialist settings. 1ACE allows a young person to access both academic subjects and kinaesthetic learning and practical activities such as horticulture, photography, trampolining, music skills, mechanics, and many more; as well as providing our young people the opportunity to accredit their achievements through AQA Unit awards, ASDAN Awards, entry-level examinations and other qualifications including BTEC and GCSE.

However, our commitment to supporting our children and young people to develop their skills and knowledge extends much further than our education service, our commitment can be seen throughout the organisation. In our Fostering service, many of our young people have achieved ASDAN awards, and the latest project in our Residential Service, ‘Food for Thought’ has been helping our children and young people learn about where food comes from, how to make healthy food healthy, and how to live sustainably.

Food for Thought is a key part of our work to develop the skills of our children and young people in both gardening and cookery, both of which will help them learn how to live independently and thrive. Food for Thought was devised at The Orchard in November 2020, with the initial aim of increasing the amount of fresh food our children and young people ate, but also to increase the adults’ confidence in cooking a Christmas dinner. It has been so well received that many of our homes now have an allotment, where our children are growing fruit, vegetables and flowers, including potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins and sunflowers. The Orchard even have three chickens!

In June, Beck House hosted the first-ever residential spring fayre, where they sold produce, played games in the garden, and did arts and crafts, as well as offering some of the food which they’d learnt to cook as part of the project (chef Warren Hoile has been working alongside the homes to develop their menus based on the children’s likes and dislikes, making unhealthy food healthy). The Orchard also plan to also host their own summer festival, inviting the local community to join them, as well as the other homes and services.

Sarah Stefano, Head of Children’s Residential Services, said: “It’s incredibly important to us that we provide the children in our care with the knowledge and skills that they would receive in any family home.

“Our home in the country, The Orchard, is surrounded by beautiful, lush land, including local allotments, which the children often visit. During lockdown, wherever possible, we have been providing care without walls and have been encouraging the children to get out into the garden. Having our own allotments gives the children hands-on experience and will be something they take pride in and share with the local community when it is possible to do so.

“The new allotments are just a small part of a much bigger project we’re planning, to help teach children skills that will help them to eventually live independently. During lockdown, as well as virtual cooking experiences, we have been writing our own cookbook and have plans to write a series of books for children in care, including one about gardening.”

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