Headteachers turn to charities as families sleep by bins

It was a sight Lorna Jackson, a London headteacher, had never expected to see: two pupils at her primary school sleeping behind bins at the station with their parents. “Mum, dad and the two little children were all sleeping on a mattress they’d found. The family had been evicted and the children had very little to eat.” The Guardian reports.

Jackson turned to the education charity School-Home Support (SHS). Using money from her pupil premium budget, she installed an SHS practitioner in the school full time. Schools with these practitioners can access the charity’s welfare fund, which buys items for struggling families such as food, washing machines and school uniforms. The charity can also support families in navigating the benefits systems and court orders.

Jackson has helped more than 100 families at her school this way. For example, her SHS practitioner realised a young pupil was stealing from classmates’ lunchboxes to feed her baby sister. The girl, her parents and her eight siblings had no access to benefits and were living in squalid accommodation and struggling to get to food banks, so the charity paid for a weekly food shop (carried out and delivered by Jackson herself), toothpaste, clothes, shoes and bedding for the children. The SHS practitioner also organised emergency help from social services and English lessons, and helped the parents find work and access child benefits.

The charity offers free membership to schools that cannot afford or do not need a full-time practitioner. This gives school staff access to SHS’s online forum, , for example, where they can ask about accessing food banks and other resources, and talk about pastoral problems.

Another organisation, The Red Box Project, delivers free sanitary products to schools and colleges across the UK, and reports new schools and groups signing up each month. Freda, an online retailer of organic, eco-friendly sanitary towels and tampons, donates products to the project and allows its customers to do the same. “By providing these products for free for schoolgirls, we are allowing them to attend school all month with dignity,” says Affi Parvizi-Wayne, founder of Freda.

Read the full article Headteachers turn to charities as families sleep by bins

Is your school providing help for local families? Is it the school’s job? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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