Lifetime Achievement Award – Jan Tallis
Throughout her lifetime, Jan Tallis has worked to defend human rights and to ensure that people are aware of their rights. She has particularly worked for the rights of disadvantaged children (specifically the right to education, though this has covered wider rights such as that of housing, safety, food, etc) and of her local community. She has served as the Chief Executive of two children’s charities (School-Home Support and Toots for Schools) over the past sixteen years, and prior to this worked to produce the hugely successful RightsNet website for the London Advice Services Alliance. She has been a Governor of Forest Gate Community School since 2003 and Chair of the Governors since 2010. She has also been a Board Member of the Newham Children’s Trust Board since 2010. Before this, her roles and responsibilities included: being Trustee of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations; Council Member and Deputy Chair of the Learning & Skills Council London East; Founding Chair and Governor of Newham Sixth Form College; and other various primary and nursery school governorships. For four years, she was also a Councillor for LB Newham. Jan has been Chief Whip for the London Fire & Civil Defence Authority, Chair of the Newham Domestic Violence Project and a Member of the Newham Police Community Consultative Group. There is no-one who has contributed more widely or thoroughly at every level to her East London community.
For the past eleven years, Jan has been Chief Executive of School-Home Support (SHS), a leading national charity working with children and families to maximise educational opportunities and improve life chances. Partnering with schools, local authorities and families, SHS looks beyond the classroom to understand and tackle the issues affecting children’s learning. These issues include domestic violence, housing, mental health, special educational needs, substance misuse and neglect, amongst others.
Jan has been successful in leading and developing the charity through challenging periods of economic and social change, initial rapid grow1h and then the impact of national austerity measures. She has used her dedication and integrity to influence and partner with the government in the instigation of new initiatives and funding streams, resulting in a successful £40m pilot and then a national roll-out. She has also worked tremendously hard to secure other significant funds for the charity from central and local government as well as philanthropic donations. She has created a solid base of evidence for measuring impact, vital for establishing trust in the charity’s work, and has introduced the innovative SHS Membership, an online model which extends the reach and impact of SHS expertise. Her work has resulted in improved school attendance, attainment and well-being for thousands and thousands of disadvantaged children in the UK.
From 2001-2005, Jan was Chief Executive for children’s charity Tools for Schools. Tools for Schools is a charity working with corporates to provide IT opportunities and equipment for school children. There, Jan delivered the first organisational business plan and broadened reach by developing partnerships with other providers. Her work meant that hundreds of children, many of them from impoverished backgrounds, were able to access computers for the first time. She offered practical solutions for schools to offer a proper IT education to their students, and in doing so changed the students’ life chances forever.
Even before becoming Chief Executive of SHS or Tools for Schools, Jan worked to help disadvantaged people across the UK. From 1983-2000, Jan worked for Lasa (London Advice Services Alliance). Lasa is a social welfare law and tech charity dedicated to supporting organisations in their use of technology and the delivery of social welfare law advice to the disadvantaged communities they serve. While there, her achievements included winning £1m Big Lottery funding for a project (a complex database management information system suitable for a wide range of advice and law providers) and managing expert teams providing IT and welfare benefits advice. She helped to develop national policy and shared software programmes for the advice sector and worked in a team to produce the hugely successful RightsNet website. RightsNet gets more than 4 million visits every year from advisers across the UK and offers expert advice and news on welfare rights. It helps countless people each year with their housing, debt, disability and employment issues, and ensures that the people giving advice are up-to-date with human rights law. giving advice are up-to-date with human rights law.
In 2014/15, 9,471 young people and their families were directly supported by SHS practitioners. Over the past three years, SHS has delivered 181,662 interventions supporting over 30,000 children, young people and their families from 337 different schools. As you can imagine, over the past eleven years that Jan has been leading SHS, the number of children and families helped by the charity has been countless. Outcomes from our school-based work include:
71% of persistent absentees (defined as less than 85% attendance) improved attendance
89% of children improved or maintained classroom behaviour
91% of pupils improved or maintained their engagement in learning
“Louisa referred herself to me following the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Louisa’s five year-old daughter, Samira, was in Year One at primary school.
Without any friends or family living in London, Louisa needed help with getting Samira to and from school, as well support in telling her about the diagnosis. Louisa was determined to ensure that her diagnosis did not have too adverse an effect on her daughter’s schooling in what was a critical period in Samira’s education. As the SHS practitioner at Samira’s primary school, I stepped in to offer the support that Louisa and Samira desperately needed. I was concerned that Samira’s situation at home would have a profoundly negative impact upon her education, so I had to make sure Samira had the support she needed to be able to attend and do well at school during such an important time in her development.
After I began working with Louisa and Samira I did all I could to support them through this intensely difficult period. I helped Louisa with practical issues related to her diagnosis, such as filling out medical forms and liaising with the palliative care team. While Samira was at school, I visited Louisa at her home to discuss what she wanted for Samira after her death. In order to maintain some order and routine in Samira’s life, I took her to and from school every day and organised after-school clubs for her on days that Louisa was in hospital for palliative chemotherapy. Despite going through such a tough time at home, Samira was still able to attend school every day.
Sadly, Louisa passed away four months later. Her sister Juliana, who lived in Manchester, took responsibility for caring for Samira after Louisa’s death. After several discussions with the local housing department and landlord, Juliana moved into Louisa and Samira’s house to make the transition easier for Samira
Now, 10 months on, Samira seems happy and settled. Her school attendance has remained excellent, she has friends round to her house for sleepovers and she knows to speak to me when she is missing her mother. Auntie Juliana is actively looking for work and has recently officially gained full guardianship with parental responsibility for Samira. After such a difficult period in her life, I have had the pleasure of witnessing Samira thrive and achieve at school.
Lifetime Achievement Award – John Wills
John, 51, has worked in the charitable sector for over 20 years and has dedicated his working life to helping adult survivors of childhood abuse, people with mental health issues and those facing disadvantage.
John began as a volunteer at HEAL (Helping Everyone Abused Live) when he was 33, helping with the once a week drop in support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse. At that time, HEAL was the only organisation in the UK that worked with both male and female survivors regardless of the type of abuse suffered, be it sexual, physical or emotional. Only a very small organisation at the time, it went through some very difficult times and John was asked to take over.
He immediately set about rejuvenating the project and asked the members what they wanted from it. The change was remarkable: it went from a struggling small group that met once a week with 4 members, to a registered charity with its own premises, running 3 weekly recovery groups, a carers & supporters group, a drop in and a creative group. Membership was now well over 40 and it had a waiting list of 120 people. John developed and delivered the volunteer training course used by the charity.
John’s vision and input was instrumental in HEAL receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Services in 2006.
With input from the members, John produced the Recovery Workshop Programme which provided the help members needed and became the backbone of the service. The huge positive strides made by members were truly remarkable and evidence in the validity of John’s approach to working with survivors of abuse. This was born out by the many testimonials given by members, many of whom went onto employment, volunteering, healthier relationships and much happier and satisfactory lives.
After 10 years John decided to leave HEAL. The members were extremely grateful and reluctant to see him go. A lifelong love of the outdoors prompted John to undertake professional training in bushcraft and survival and in 2007 John co-founded the organisation Greenpath Ventures (GV). One of Greenpath Ventures’ aims is to help disadvantaged individuals, especially those with mental health issues, to gain self-reliance and confidence by learning bushcraft and survival skills. The organisation became a registered charity in 2009. John is now the Manager and senior Bushcraft Instructor.
When GV launched, many professionals were very skeptical and reticent about teaching people with mental health issues bushcraft skills, such as; fire-lighting and knife & axe skills. However, John has always been one to challenge these negative stereo-types and pushed ahead. The positive comments from clients often includes feeling they are trusted and being treated like adults at GV which boosts their confidence and self-esteem.
GV has worked with 1,OOO’s of people since it started; as well as the mental health work, the charity goes into schools, educational organisations and community groups to offer sessions on bushcraft, the natural environment, conservation and heritage. In 2014, John was successful with an application from the Heritage Lottery which allowed them to go into local schools and work with over 1,000 children alone.
Amongst the organisations GV has worked with includes; MIND, The Haven (Personality Disorder), Special Needs Schools, CRUSE, Scouts, Beavers, MacMillan Cancer, Ellen MaCarthur Trust, NHS, Oxford Rd (Alcohol Project), Open Rd (Drugs and Alcohol), YMCA, local schools and Essex County Council.
In 2012 HEAL unfortunately closed, and to fill the gap this created in local services, John was approached by several past colleagues to co-found a new recovery service for adult survivors of childhood abuse. John has been the cornerstone of founding AARCA (Assisting Adult Recovery from Child Abuse), which is currently in the process of becoming a registered charity. Building on the Workshop Recovery Programme from HEAL which John produced, he is now facilitating a new programme and developing a major funding application to expand the service to meet the needs of more adult survivors in Essex.
HEAL (Helping Everyone Abused Life). Under his leadership this organisation became a registered charity and was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, in 2006. From a struggling small community group to a nationally regarded organisation it was a huge asset to Essex. While at the charity John trained psychologists, NHS staff, civil servants, crisis telephone volunteers and numerous other staff from both statutory and non-statutory organisations. John wrote and delivered the in-house training programme for volunteers.
John uses his exceptional talent to connect with people who are hard to reach, when asked how he does this he replied; “I simply ask them what they need or want, and trust them” Greenpath Ventures (GV) became a registered charity in 2009. He successfully applied to the Department of Health for Opportunities for Volunteering funding which secured the charity for the first 3 years. He has delivered bushcraft to thousands of people since the forming of the organisation; the youngest being 18 months and the oldest in their nineties!
To further his knowledge and understanding, John has trained in Arclic (Sweden), Jungle (Amazon) and Desert (Sahara) Survival and is regularly asked to delivers talks to local community groups and schools about his experiences which are always well received.
Funding for small charities is exceptionally difficult, but John has persevered and literally raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for several causes and those he has successfully applied to include Awards for All, Heritage Lottery, Department of Health, Home Office, Comic Relief, Sports Relief, Essex Community Foundation, Essex County Council, LankellyChase Foundation and numerous other smaller trust and foundations. He is himself a survivor of sexual abuse, suffering for 5 years between the ages 8-13. This led to him dropping out of school with no qualifications, drug addiction & alcoholism and battling mental illness for most of his life. It was in his late twenties when he finally received the help he needed and turned his life around, gaining academic qualifications at University level and then training in counselling and psychotherapy.
Without making it about himself, he has drawn on his own experiences in writing of the recovery programme used by HEAUAARCA. He has appeared in the media and on the radio talking honestly about his life trying to break the taboo that surrounds child abuse and mental illness.
Even In his bushcraft career John has had to push himself beyond the norms; his determination was further tested when, shortly after his Arctic survival training, in 2008, he was diagnosed with a broken back. Following a complex 8 hour operation to fuse his lower spine and lengthy rehabilitation, John then undertook jungle survival training in the Amazon in 2012 and Sahara survival training in 2014. John uses these experiences to show what can be achieved and always encourages people to fulfil their dreams and reach their potential. John has a unique ability to look at people and think beyond a person’s disability or mental health issue and encourages what they can do and not focus on their limitations.
John has helped change and turn around the lives of countless people, it is hard to judge just how many. Through his work with adults who were abused as children he has helped them move on from being the victims to survivors. There are numerous examples of people who when they first came to the services, were heavily involved with the statutory services due to their mental ill health and self-destructive behaviours such as self-harming, but through their involvement with John, are now working, stopped self-harming and moved on to becoming active citizens. Many of the people John has worked with have themselves been inspired to help other people as volunteers or through employment.
Through his training of professionals, John changes and challenges the way people think about abuse and how they deal with survivors. The feedback from his training sessions are always exceptionally high and he has made a significant impact on many professionals and volunteers on the way they work with this group of people.
John is an extremely humble person. He is an exceptionally positive role model to many victims of abuse and sufferers of mental health issues and is very highly regarded by all the staff that he has worked with both past and present. ‘I have worked with John for 11 years and cannot stress just how dedicated he is to improving the lives of “less fortunate” people.’
Lifetime Achievement Award – Lynda Fletcher
Lynda’s passion has always been about improving the lives of children, starting back in 1974 where she managed nursery provision in family and day centres, right through to current day. In 1984 Lynda gained a Social Work qualification and has since worked and managed social work services in the statutory and voluntary sector, including the national charity the NSPCC where her role involved comprehensive court assessments and also utilising her expertise in therapeutic support. She joined Faith in Families as a Social Worker and her hard work and dedication over the years has resulted in Lynda becoming the deputy CEO and Head of Professional Services. Lynda’s knowledge of child development and behaviour management has been put to great use in enabling children to reach their potential and helping children with disabilities. Lynda has not only directly supported children but she has also worked with parents, teaching them therapeutic parenting and helping them to get the best from the children.
One of the initiatives that Lynda began in 2010 is the School Social Work service which has proved to be a much needed resource. So much so that it has grown from initially three schools to over twenty schools across the East Midlands. Last year alone, Faith in Families provided 3,696 support sessions in schools and 366 sessions to parents, freeing up teachers to focus on their work, and helping children and families to cope with social and/or psychological problems, wherever they arise. The early Intervention Service helps to prevent families reaching crisis point. One student said ‘The thing I like most about coming here is that I can talk to someone about my problems and they won’t judge me and most of all they will help me and listen. I feel like I’m not alone.”
With a keen interest in the training and development of others, not just adopted children and their families, but colleagues and other professionals, Lynda delivers training for Nottingham Trent University students ‘promoting good outcomes for children in care through adoption’. Lynda has been a professional advisor on the Faith in Families adoption panel for three years and is now the agency decision maker, an important role in ensuring positive futures for children in care.
Lynda is a strong advocate for adoption and she can draw on her own experience, having adopted three girls who have grown into three happy, healthy young women. This experience has informed her work, helping others on their own journey, supporting them with some of the more complex difficulties that adoption can often bring with it. Utilising her own experiences, Lynda is able to work alongside them, challenging them to meet their children’s needs in appropriate ways adding a very personal touch in the delivery of services.
The result of Lynda’s work has meant families have been created, families have been kept together and from reaching crisis point, children and young people have received support at school and at home to improve their lives and their futures.
Lynda has worked on many community projects which have enhanced the lives of families. One project in particular worked with young mothers with dual-heritage children and trying to support their cultural needs and identities. Lynda worked with a child who was having trouble at school and became suicidal. She worked with his mother to help her understand his needs, helped move him to a new school where he flourished and changed his life around to become a confident and happy young boy.
As DCEO of Faith in Families, Lynda has influenced the shape of legislation, policy and practice, acting as a stakeholder adviser to government departments in England. Lynda has engaged a variety of key funders to commit to the support of new developments in adoption services. Lynda has many years of practice experience in children’s services, has worked in both the statutory and voluntary sector at a number of levels.