The Caldecott Foundation
Clive Lee- A Day in the Life
As the CEO of The Caldecott Foundation, a charity helping vulnerable children, every day is different. We provide residential care, education and therapy on our site in Smeeth, Ashford, and aim to get children ready for fostering, education or employment. It is a long, difficult process, but when a child does well and becomes a happy and successful person, there is no greater reward.
Today I travelled to London to have lunch with the Chair of the Board to discuss the Caldecott Association's annual reunion. The Caldecott Association is made up of people who we cared for as children, and the reunion is always a wonderful chance to relive old memories and to see how everyone in the Association is getting on. Our charity has now been established for 100 years, so there are getting to be quite a lot of them!
After this, I caught the fast train back to Ashford in order to interview a prospective Residential Manager. Recruitment is an interesting process at Caldecott. Before their formal interview, applicants must first be interviewed by a panel of our children. They ask some pretty searching questions (sample: "are you here for us, or for you?") and I was once told that it was almost a relief to get to the interview with me! We take staffing very seriously. Our children have gone through the extremes of neglect and abuse. Some have even been abused whilst in the care system. We cannot afford for their trust to be betrayed, and so we ensure that we only employ people who are trustworthy and who truly care about what they are doing.
Once the interviews are over, I grab a quick lunch and then go straight into a Senior Management Strategy meeting. This might not sound too exciting, but it is incredibly important. We discuss the need for post-16 provision at Caldecott. Although our current school has been commended by Ofsted, we are greatly concerned by this gap in our service. At 16, children are still too young to simply be thrown into the world on their own. Unfortunately, many of our children have had educational setbacks due to their turbulent pasts, and so find it difficult to get into training or work. We are currently trying to raise money so that we can provide vocational courses such as mechanics, catering and hairdressing- exciting yet accessible subjects- so that Caldecott leavers can go on to be successful even if they have not achieved academically. Returning to Caldecott for school after 16 would also give children an extra element of stability in what can be a tough time in a care leaver's life.
I go down to the school in the afternoon. It is the last day of term, and I am there for their assembly of achievement to give out medals and certificates. It is wonderful to see how hard the children have worked, and how proud they are when this is acknowledged. Sometimes the achievements might seem small - something like 80% attendance- but when you know that this is a child who 2 years ago was unable even to sit in a classroom without becoming extremely distressed, it is a real inspiration to see how far they have come.
After work, I drive home, tired from my day. I walk my dog over the Kentish countryside, and get ready for another full day tomorrow! To find out more about the Caldecott Foundation visit their website at: www.thecaldecottfoundation.co.uk