A MESSAGE FROM CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHRIS WRIGHT
"The power of the relationship"
The stories outlined here capture much about our work: the resilience of those we work with, the commitment of our staff, the complexity of people’s lives and significantly the importance of relationships. Simply, believing in people and doing what you say you’re going to do wins the confidence of those we support through the mix of our activity. Whether it's through our schools, our justice work, working with children and young people at risk, or in helping people get into work, the common denominator is the power of the relationship.
This is what we do and what we’ve done in our different guises for over 200 years. And the vast amount of our work delivers very positive impact on the lives of those we support – that’s at the micro level, within the families and communities in which we work: the most important thing. Of course, not everything we do is perfect. We get things wrong and when we do, we look at ourselves and see what we could have done better and strive to improve.
We are also striving to change things at a systems level, we’re not alone. There is a growing movement of interest which recognises that our current systems are creaking, are too transactional, compliance led and dependency denying and that they are fuelling failure demand. Too many of those in ‘receipt’ of services are ‘done to’ and guess what? People are fed up and want to see things done differently.
Our theory of change is clear: demonstrate we can deliver well, win the confidence of commissioners, inform systems-change with policy makers and secure investment to test out ways of doing things even better. In helping us to achieve this change, we remain grateful for the support of our funders, partners and most importantly our colleagues, whether staff or volunteers, who make a difference day in, day out.
Chris Wright, Chief Executive
Richard and his wife Sally killed their friend Max, following an argument between them. They were each sentenced to ten years in custody. In the spring of 2019, Catch22’s Nottinghamshire Victim CARE staff met Max’s wife, Elizabeth. She wanted to use restorative justice, where a meeting between the victim and the offender is organised, as a way of dealing with the aftermath of the crime.
We facilitated a restorative justice conference in prison between Richard and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was able to ask questions and tell Richard the impact the offence had on her and her children and listen to Richard’s responses.
"Restorative justice is not as hard as you would think it would be; it’s the wait that is the hardest part. Since taking part in restorative justice, my anxiety has reduced, and I feel that a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. If someone asked me about restorative justice, I would tell them there are a million positives."
Billy came from a very unsettled background and was the oldest of five siblings. The youngest was born dependent on heroin. Billy was referred to a Catch22 school having previously had a negative experience of education, despite being a capable and intelligent student. He would often say:
"It isn’t that I don’t like school, I just can’t physically and mentally cope with everything…"
Billy’s difficult home life and volatile relationship with his parents contributed to his poor mental health and, ultimately, his drug abuse. He felt a great sense of responsibility for his younger siblings, helping his grandparents look after them. He sometimes used to sleep on the street, just to get some peace.
Billy was sexually abused by his dad’s girlfriend and became suicidal. He was supported by Catch22 to bring charges.
Catch22 supported Billy throughout; arranging doctors’ appointments and supporting the family to secure appropriate support from Children’s Services.
To encourage his attendance at school, Billy was sometimes picked up by staff, or caught the bus and was met at the bus station. In school, he was given one-to-one, round-the-clock support. Daily phone calls were made if Billy was absent to check on his well-being.
Billy continued to struggle with the lack of action surrounding the sexual abuse charges and took a drug overdose. After recovering from the overdose, he came into school.
"I knew that I’d receive the best care and support at school"
Billy is a keen sportsman, evidenced by his improved attendance when sports was on the timetable. Catch22 provided him with the opportunity to take a Level 1 course in Sports Leadership and made contact with a local football team so he could enrol when he left school.
On leaving school, despite gaps in his education prior to joining Catch22 and his many absences, Billy attained English GCSE Level 3, Maths GCSE Level 2, English Functional Skills Levels 1 & 2, Maths Functional Skills Level 1 and Sports Leadership Level 1.
Billy now has a part-time job, has been accepted onto a football scholarship and is re-taking his GCSEs in English and Maths. He feels he has been able to take back control of his life.
EMPLOYER STORY: Belvedere Medical Centre
Catch22 staff are reliable, helpful and experienced. The support they give to us, as an employer, and to the apprentice, is outstanding.
All of the apprentices we’ve had at the medical centre have become part of the team and have fulfilled their role to the best of their ability. They have learnt all aspects of the job and work hard to fulfil their potential, adding value to the entire centre. Working as part of a team that motivates each other helps them to achieve their own ambitions.
The apprenticeship experience gives you the opportunity to learn different aspects of the job and gives you motivation to achieve high standards in the profession that you choose. It’s an ideal starting place and offers opportunities that you may not get otherwise.
"We work towards high standards of care for the community and our staff all have set targets to meet daily. Being part of the team means that you must maintain professionalism and work at a high standard to achieve the goals set for you. The apprentices we have had from Catch22 all achieved that goal and have contributed to the smooth running and the overall standards achieved by the surgery." - Belvedere Medical Centre
Chelsea, 19, was referred to me via her Job Centre advisor. Whilst in her last job, she was bullied by staff and constantly felt undermined. Chelsea could no longer cope mentally and physically — she was working 47 hours a week, 7 days a week and had to eventually leave her job. Since then she had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Chelsea was eager to get back into part-time work. I found an administrative role at the local council that I thought would suit her well and we put forward her CV.
The hiring manager was keen to meet her and arranged an interview immediately. Chelsea interviewed against six other candidates. Following the interview, the manager said she stood head and shoulders above the others and was the perfect candidate for the role.
Chelsea has come on leaps and bounds and now virtually runs the department she works in. She impressed so much, that, after three months, she has been given more hours and now commits to 30 hours a week.
I’m Ade, a young person from Southwark.
Last year, I didn’t have a lot going for me and had no motivation. I just went to the gym or stayed at home all day. I received a call from someone at Catch22 inviting me to join the Unlock It programme. He told me he was a care leaver who had experience of the system and knew how it was to be in my position.
Initially I was apprehensive as I didn’t know anyone on the course. However, everyone was very welcoming and made it easy to get engaged in the sessions. The one that resonated with me the most was the ‘Managing Conflict’ session which showed me new ways to address certain issues and how to make the most of the things around me.
The work experience side of the programme was very enlightening – I saw what it was like to work in an office environment. I’m now an apprentice at the local council, doing business administration in the housing and modernisation department.
"Just a few months ago I never would have envisioned myself with a job and the ability to financially support myself. The experience I’ve had has been second to none."
NCS MENTOR STORY
During sixth form I remember sitting with my group of friends during break when two people in NCS hoodies approached us. Their initial attempts to persuade me to join NCS were met with my arms firmly folded, along with a solid ‘no’, my thought process at the time was ‘Why would I do this when I could just be sat at home relaxing?’. One by one, a handful of my friends accepted the sign-up form to take home and so did my then girlfriend, so of course I had no other choice but to take one too!
The October half term break came around and I found myself on the residential NCS programme. I hadn’t really done any outdoor activities before but opened up and gave these a go. For instance, I had never done climbing before but managed to get to the top pretty fast on my first attempt! Another memory was being given a crying plastic baby to look after for around 12 hours one day. This drove us insane, but taught us some hard lessons about parental responsibilities!
Our social action project was a real highlight, raising around £1,500 for a local charity through a Frozen themed dress-up and sing-along cinema event. It showed me just how much you can achieve in a short amount of time when you have a team that really puts their all into something.
At the end of the program, Kevin and Lisa asked me to come back and work for them when I turned 18, an offer which I could not refuse. Fast forward to now, five years since my NCS journey began, and I’ve just finished my 10th and final wave as a mentor.
Along the way I’ve worked with some incredible people, both the full-time staff in the office and those that I have mentored. There has been nothing more rewarding than working with the young people I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring.
You get to experience such a variety of personalities and become a first-hand witness to their growth throughout the program. For sure, you will face challenges, lack sleep, and deal with young people simply refusing to cooperate, but when you find a way of getting through to them and see that ‘no’ turn into a ‘yes’ it makes you feel like you have made a difference.
As a mentor you are the face of NCS to your group: you are the main one they will remember. It is a huge responsibility but one that, if done right, reaps so many benefits for you and all your young people.
I wouldn’t change my five-year journey in the slightest. As my time with NCS draws to a close, I will miss the excitement every summer knowing I’ll be back as a mentor.