A hat trick of Ofsted results

At LifeLine we are committed to making a difference in the community in which we live and work. I'm delighted to be able to announce a hat trick of GOOD ratings from Ofsted. LifeLine currently operates two Little Learners Nurseries and Pre-Schools and these, along with SW!TCH Expeditions, one of our Alternative Provisions for secondary education were inspected during the latter part of 2017. We have now received confirmation that each one received a GOOD rating.

Loneliness: Helping our community to engage with solutions

According to research, loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Loneliness and social isolation are actually harmful to our health: lacking social connections is as much of a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Change is afoot!

Hans Baird has announced his intention to step down as the Chief Executive Officer of LifeLine Projects at the end of this year. We really appreciate the contribution that Hans has made over his five year tenure, in particular the commercial expertise and skills he has brought to the LifeLine team. Hans is exchanging life in the UK for a whole new adventure in Nigeria. We wish him and his family all the very best and look forward to hearing from him from time to time as our relationship continues across the continents.

SW!TCH Expeditions rated GOOD by Ofsted

We are delighted to announce that following our recent Ofsted inspection, SW!TCH Expeditions, a LifeLine Alternative Provision, has been rated GOOD by Ofsted. Director of Young People's Services, Nathan Singleton said, I have always believed that the best place for the vast majority of young people to learn is in mainstream school. Where that is not possible, young people need high quality alternative provision (AP) that urges them forward. I am pleased that Ofsted have recognised that SW!TCH Expeditions achieves this. Over the last year we have taken a decision to simply do what is right for the students. I understand how…

17 years of working in East London: Why we do what we do

Seventeen ‘troubled’ sixteen year olds, eight tents, three Mentors and the middle of British summertime. It was cold and very, very wet. We made some progress and touched some lives, but I spent a lot of time dashing about, shouting instructions to avert disasters. Fast forward a year and I’d learned a lot. This time five young people, accompanied by three leaders and one minibus packed with basic camping equipment and quick-cook pasta set off for four days in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the summer term.

Keeping our feet dirty – a local charity with a national reach

When FaithAction, under the umbrella of LifeLine Projects, first started they did a survey of network members (now totalling 2400). One comment that was important to them was ‘we have never met the team in person, but we feel they speak for us.’ It’s very important to FaithAction to meet those who they represent, but more than that, it’s important that they can express their opinions: and that’s because they are similar, they do the same stuff in the same places - their feet are dirty - just as the feet of their members. For over 10 years now LifeLine Projects in Barking and Dagenham have been the umbrella organisation who host this national network. With a mission to support the work of faith and community organisations, FaithAction works directly with a number of Government departments, runs an All-Party Parliamentary Group (in parliament) with MPs and Peers and delivers services, support and contracts throughout the country.

Talk about it

A few months ago I wrote and performed a poem called ‘Talk About It’ for a BBC radio event on mental health. When I was originally approached to write a poem, I was asked to write about how mental health affects young people. Just the thought of writing and performing a poem on such a serious and sensitive matter made me feel anxious. The feelings reminded me that I would not have been able to perform in front of people and on live radio as little as 5 years ago, due to my anxiety. So I decided to write about…

Off grid mentoring = changed lives

Unlike the Famous Five, our students - accompanied by three leaders and one mini bus packed with basic camping equipment and lashings of quick cook pasta in place of ginger beer - set off for four days in the Brecon Beacons at the end of the summer term. Camping was challenging (as you can see) and you may well be asking yourself: why bother? The simple answer is that investing time and genuine interest in a young person reaps rewards that just aren't present when looking for the quick fix, or only ever relating in a formal mentoring or education setting.

Be who you want to be!

Our society struggles with its message to young people. Schools tell kids to work hard, parents tell them to succeed and get good grades, social media tells them to behave and even look a certain way – I can’t imagine growing up with all of these different ideas flying around for how I should behave and think. These messages aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive but this mix of ideas coming from every direction must be overwhelming. Over the course of 20 years working with young people, I’ve noticed an increased pressure on them since I grew up. Some of this certainly…

Why is alternative education so crucial?

Schools are responding to population growth, but how can we ensure that every pupil receives the best quality of education? We are in the middle of a policy void. An alarming place to be, given that we are talking about something so vital. The most recently set direction of travel was in March 2016 when the then Secretary of State for Education released a white paper entitled 'Educational Excellence Everywhere'. The introduction says 'there still remain too many pockets of educational under-performance – areas where too many young people miss out on the chance to benefit from the best possible education. This is deeply unfair.'