Nzuri House is a 6 bed children’s home and although registered for both male and female, it has for the last several years been boys only. Nzuri is Swahili for place of friendship, a Place of Welcome. The team have worked together for over 17 years.
Nzuri House has an experienced and qualified staff team, who have a good record of working alongside young people who have challenging and emotional difficulties. The home has built up particular skills with young people who are at risk from their challenging behaviours, particularly in relationship to possible gang involvement and exploitation. The home has also developed expertise with offering care to young asylum seekers. Nzuri House also has a long history of experienced staff supporting looked after children from a BAME (Black and Asian Minority Ethnic) background, with links to local Mosques, offering appropriate cultural food choices and good community links to facilities such as cricket and sports, all built round a robust activity programme and a local vocational training company, which provides practical experience and training to young people to learn skills such as woodwork and boat repair. It offers a strong caring environment that has consistent boundaries. The team reflect the diversity of the young people they work with. Good role-modelling and “authoritative parenting” from the staff is particularly successful and many of the boys make lifelong connections in the community and stay in the area when they leave care. Maintaining the support of the home for many years, some actually becoming staff members themselves.
Our understanding of the problems the home is addressing and the young people it serves is grounded in research and and evidence. The findings of the Lord Laming Inquiry, ‘In Care Out of Trouble’ confirmed the notion that there are a number of unique intersecting factors such as racial discrimination, disempowerment, police targeting, and inherent vulnerability, which ultimately contribute to the high offending rates of ‘looked after’ young people (Schofield et al. 2013; Shaw, 2011; Hayden, 2010; Darker et al. 2008; Barry, 2006; Fitzpatrick, 2006).
However, the inquiry did conclude that a number of measures can be put in place by multi-agency working to tackle this over-representation. It was found if all branches of children’s services, public and private sector work jointly together to promote positive relationships with family and peers, produce positive role models, support young people’s sense of self identity, promote positive images of looked after children and provide consistent therapeutic support, unnecessary criminalisation could be reduced and perhaps even avoided (Prison Reform Trust, 2016).
At QPC we pride ourselves in working jointly with other agencies to provide every child in our care with a supportive, therapeutic, and secure environment so that they can overcome obstacles presented to them in their early lives. We focus where possible on building and strengthening links with families to ease the transition into care.
Both the NSPCC (2016) and the Prison Reform Trust (2016) state that more must be done to ensure the welfare and happiness of looked after children. At QPC we believe that looked after children should be provided with at least the same, if not greater, opportunities as their peers, so that they can transition successfully into adult life. We therefore offer a structured and comprehensive independence programme to our young people, to help ease the transition to adult life, based around ASDAN Towards Independence or Personal effectiveness programmes and the Resettlement Passport, which is a tenancy skills course designed local charity Local Solutions to improve the skills and confidence of vulnerable people, taking on a tenancy.
The home has developed a integrated approach to education with Lawrence House School which offers a bespoke curriculum with specific programmes developed for Nzuri House. Our Iceberg Mental Health resilience programme provides coaching on mental health and resilience through the promotion of physical activity and the Wildair Forest School, which strives to promote perseverance, independence and determination in people and groups through forest school, bushcraft, survival and a range of outdoor activities. Wee are currently looking at a partnership with an external provider to develop practical trade skills sch as joinery in apprenticeship style opportunities. An added dimension to practice particularly at Nzuri House is Authoritative Parenting, which is a parenting style characterised by high responsiveness and high demands. Authoritative parents are responsive to the child’s emotional needs while having high standards. The care staff set limits and are very consistent in enforcing boundaries.
The home has good community contacts. The team have also supported refugee children with trauma and worked with The Freedom from Torture service. The home works closely with its local Mosque and and also has its own Prevent Officer.
A virtual tour of Nzuri House can be accessed below: