Cranleigh trust continues to support vulnerable young people

A Cranleigh trust has continued to support vulnerable young people during lockdown.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 11:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 9:45 am

Specialist trust St Joseph’s is a school, children’s home and supported living provider to 74 children and adults who all have autism and learning disabilities.

Staff have been working round the clock to ensure their needs are met.

Simon Jaggard, headteacher, said: “Our young people need their education and therapies to ensure they are able to function day by day.

Andy (second left) with some of the young people playing their newly invented game

“A special school like St Joseph’s provides so much more than education, the input from our skilled and dedicated team means they are able to remain safe, both at home and in the school setting.”

Set in 23 acres, St Joseph’s is able to maintain as much social distancing as possible within a care setting.

Alan Day, director of care added: “We are blessed with some truly creative staff, we have invented new games, one of which is a cross between bowls and boule with a rolled over chocolate prize.

“We have utilised rabbit holes to make a golf course and had the most wonderful socially distanced Easter egg hunt and barbecue!”

The Easter egg hunt

For the St Joseph’s community, the COVID 19 pandemic doesn’t mean that children’s needs no longer need to be met, according to a school spokesman.

The front line key workers of St Joseph’s have stepped up to the challenge to ensure that the families who fought so tirelessly to achieve an education health care plan and place at St. Joseph’s continue to get the support they need.

He said young people here are unable to spend extended periods of time at home as the support needed disrupts, and dominates family life and only somewhere like St. Josephs can give it back.

Andy Pusey, one of the trust home managers, said: “We know that most respite is closed in the face of the national lockdown and so we need to be the constant that enables our young people to achieve a quality of life for themselves and their families which has seldom been possible elsewhere”.

Staff at St Joseph’s Specialist Trust wearing some of the homemade masks

Simon added: “There have been many changes to how we manage the education day, including separating our day and residential students in our class set up, to avoid potential unnecessary close contact.”

More than twenty local authorities continually make contact with St. Josephs as the vulnerable young people have needs which mean they have few options for support in this moment of National Emergency, the spokesman said.

He added: “Students and their families are drawn from a wide area and from many faiths, beliefs and cultures and often few options nationally.

“Placements are made in this Surrey School from Isles of Scilly across to Kent and up to the Midlands.

“With a remarkable 80 per cent student attendance the staff at St. Joseph’s have worked tirelessly to support the families of students who have communication difficulties which often present with challenging behaviour that require high levels of support from professionally trained staff.

“Transporting day students is even more essential as other families are unable to leave home and these young people require activities and space; as recognised by the government in their guidance and the school with their integrated therapeutic provision.”

But the school said the community has rallied round with volunteers making PPE for staff.

Alan added: “The face masks and scrubs that have been made for us all is really humbling.

“The community has got behind St Joseph’s and the staff in the most remarkable way.

“We will forever be indebted to these wonderful army of dedicated volunteers”.

Staff have also had donations of safety eyewear from the surrounding secondary schools who gave their science department supplies.

This has enabled every staff member of St Joseph’s to be issued with a non-clinical PPE barrier kit for everyday use.

The spokesman said: “To keep these young people at home during the lockdown would be to place an unacceptable strain on families and would be unsustainable.

“It is the moral purpose, belief and vocation of the staff which allows this jewel in the crown of Surrey Special schools to continue to be open to our pupils.”

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