All donations to the Cardinal Hume Centre will be doubled between December 3 – 10 2019, as we once again take part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge – the largest matched funding campaign in the UK.
We aim to raise £100,000 (including matched donations) during the week-long campaign. Those who give to the Centre via The Big Give will have their donations matched by one of our own donors and The Childhood Trust, a fundraising and grantmaking organisation working with grassroots charities to help alleviate the impact of child poverty in London.
All money raised will go towards the Centre’s popular family and young people’s service, which provides a safe and welcoming space for local disadvantaged children and their parents living on no or low incomes. Below, Magda, our Family Services Practitioner shares two stories of the children she’s worked with and how having access to a safe space and trusted adults allow them to come out of their shell, play and flourish.
Saiid and I were not getting on. He was five years old, and refusing to play with me. He wouldn’t talk, and made no eye contact at all. I offered him Lego, the Peppa Pig dolls house, toy cars, farmyard animals, even sweets. All rejected. I took him outside – perhaps football would help him to open up? But Saiid slouched around the playground like an old man with the world on his shoulders.
Perhaps he had language difficulties? Perhaps was experiencing culture shock. Perhaps he had suffered childhood traumas. So I went to water the garden, and allowed Saiid to follow me like a shadow. At least by now we knew where we stood with each other: we were content ignore each other in silence. That was what was going through my mind, when suddenly I heard a shriek from the bushes below me.
‘SNAIL!’ There was Saiid, holding the little creature out and beaming up at me. ‘There’s another one!’ He ran over to present me with a second offering. ‘Snails have shells on their back to protect them from the birds who might eat them,’ he told me seriously. Was this the same child who just five minutes ago would not utter one word? Speaking so passionately in full sentences?
By the following week, Saiid had retreated back into his own shell. No eye contact, no play, no talk. Heavy shoulders, with the world upon them. But now I knew how to get through to him. All we needed was a little snail talk.
A taste of childhood
Gemma and her little brother Daniel were newcomers to the Cardinal Hume Centre’s family activities. It was immediately obvious how close they were, but Gemma could also be extremely controlling towards her brother. Over the next few weeks, Daniel started to settle in – but whenever he showed any sign of wanting to play with the other children, Gemma would intervene.
Gemma wasn’t interested in playing. She strutted around, talking down to the staff – a ten-year-old acting like someone twice her age. Once she turned up in shades, swinging a fake Gucci bag in a parody of adulthood. While Daniel seemed happy to be making friends, nobody could get through to Gemma.
Gradually, the cause of Gemma’s behaviour became clear: she was trying her best to act as a parent to her younger brother, because their mother was unable to care for them. All the responsibility of looking after Daniel fell to Gemma, and she took her duties very seriously.
Then, in the summer, we took a trip to Kew Gardens. Gemma kept up her defensive attitude all morning, until we reached the adventure playground . . . where the lure of the paddling pool on a hot day proved too strong. Off came her shoes, and soon she was splashing round with the other children – a proper ten-year-old, enjoying a taste of the childhood she deserves.