Red Balloon Learner Centres: ‘Perfect’ site found in Worthing as charity puts out ‘DIY SOS’ appeal to convert former rest home
A former Worthing rest home is to be converted into a new Red Balloon Learner Centre, providing an alternative to school, to enable traumatised young people in West Sussex to re-engage with education.
The charity, founded by trained teacher and equal opportunities consultant Carrie Herbert in 1996, is excited to confirm the location of its latest centre and hopes to get lots of support from the community, as it says the provision is desperately needed in the county.
The former Windsor Rest Home site at 52-54 Windsor Road, will need refurbishment and freshening up with new paint, and Red Balloon hopes local businesses and volunteers will give their support.
Carrie said: “Some children simply cannot go to school any more because they have been severely bullied, they are too anxious, or because they have suffered a trauma, such as bereavement, injury or medical condition.
“They stop going to school, even though they want to learn, want to make friends and prepare for their adulthood. But their futures are in jeopardy if they drop out of learning, and become socially isolated.”
The charity has four other centres in the south east, as well as an online programme, and has been looking for the perfect property in Worthing for some time.
It was essential to find somewhere calming, well-ordered and as homely as possible - nothing like a school environment.
Because the Red Balloon students have had negative experiences at school, the aim is to make the centre feel as much like a home as possible.
Carrie said the new property in Windsor Road is ideal, although in need of refurbishment, and this is why the charity is asking for help from kindhearted local tradespeople, companies and volunteers to really make the space welcoming.
She added: “Some fresh paint, carpet, tiling and lighting would transform this property. So, we’re putting out a bit of a DIY SOS!
“We’d love to hear from companies who can help supply and even fit any of these things, free of charge. Even help with one room would make a real difference.
“We’re also looking for some furniture, including tables and chairs, two large dining tables and sofas. If you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush, are an electrician, tiler, plumber or love to garden and you have a little time to spare to volunteer, then please show us your skills.”
The finished centre will be an ideal learning and therapeutic environment for children aged 11 to 18 who are too frightened to go to school and have excluded themselves from lessons. It will grow to support a maximum of 20 young people.
Red Balloon has 25 years’ experience and children who take part in its recovery programme of education, wellbeing and community re-engagement activities have gone on to achieve great things.
Visit www.redballoonlearner.org/worthing for the Worthing wish list. Anyone interested in offering their time or able to help with fixtures, fittings or furniture can contact Nick Munday on 07710 013893 or [email protected]