Our Stay and Sing sessions continue with gusto every Thursday morning in the Community Hub! This term we have had Mya with her guitar and beautiful singing voice to lead the sessions.
The children love singing the nursery rhymes and playing instruments. There are scarves and teddies and even, on the odd occasions, a parachute! Anyone with a baby or a child under 5 is welcome, as are parents, grandparents, carers and friends! The children also love tucking into the fresh fruit that is available after all the hard work of singing and dancing is done.
Councillor Kevin Bonavia visited our school last week. He is a Labour Councillor and a Cabinet Member of Lewisham Council for Democracy, Refugees and Accountability. He was shown around school by some of our Year 6 pupils who then presented him with a booklet containing their work at special workshops last year about what it was like to be a child at school when your parents have no immigration status and no access to benefits. Councillor Kevin was able to share the good news that any child attending a Lewisham school whose parents have no recourse to public funds will now receive a free school meal.
Councillor Kevin then met with some parents from our Immigration Action Group to hear their experiences of how people have been treated at Lewisham Council. He agreed that improvements needed to be made especially if Lewisham are to call themselves a “sanctuary borough”. He agreed to work with us in a number of ways so watch this space.
In order to develop our new Spiritual Garden, we organised 2 community gardening mornings. Many thanks to the staff, children and local volunteers who joined us to fill the Spiritual Garden with plants, including three lovely olive trees. The volunteer team also cleared out and refilled several planting containers around the school. As stated in our school vision, we want to be a learning community that promotes the wellbeing of every person. The Spiritual Garden, along with the rest of the planting around the school, will provide an oasis of peace and calm for everyone in our school community.
During the last meeting issues that affect families facing immigration and settlement issues were discussed. These include the isolation and stigma which people may feel, the mental health stress this has on families as well as practical problems about finding money to pay immigration and NHS fees. What really has an impact on people is the way that they are treated when they attend places like Lewisham Council or an Immigration Reporting Centre.
The Immigration Action Project is intended to be a place of education, action and support. Hannah from Citizens UK worked with parents to look at what might be an effective first course of action. So the parents decided to write a letter to the head of the NRPF team at Lewisham to invite him to meet with parents at St. Mary’s to see how things could be improved. The letter has been delivered and we await a response. It is wonderful to see such courageous advocacy in action and to witness parents supporting each other so kindly.
Parents were also able to meet with Jess from the Coram Children’s Legal Centre who was able to offer immigration advice on an individual basis. Next meeting will be the 11th July so do come along!
St. Mary’s is very excited to be part of a fantastic new project with Citizens UK and Coram Children’s Legal Centre. Many families in our community face issues around immigration, settlement and citizenship in the UK. This can affect your right to work, to receive benefits and to receiving treatment under the NHS. By getting together and discussing the issues which affect families we can attempt to provide the right help both practically and emotionally. Most importantly, by working together we can start to campaign for real changes.
Come to the next meeting on the 13th June@ 9am and find out more. We also have an immigration advisor coming into the session to provide support and answer any questions you have in complete confidentiality. This is an ongoing project which really puts the values of St. Mary’s vision for our school community into practice.
Catching the Thames Clipper from Embankment, parents got a fantastic riverside view of the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf before disembarking at Greenwich. We then had a look at the Cutty Sark, a wander through Greenwich Market and a picnic in Greenwich Park. After recharging, some of the parents even continued the sightseeing tour to the Maritime Museum before catching the bus back to Lewisham.
Why don’t you have a day out in London with the children over the summer holidays? You can use your Oystercard on the Thames Clipper (child travel is 50% off/under 5’s are free) and places like the Tate Modern and the Greenwich Maritime Museum are free. There is so much to explore!
Parents attending this workshop with Emma Beadle our Speech & Language Therapist learned how to better communicate with their children at home. This included advice on how to talk to children in a way that allows them to practice speech and language without placing too much pressure on them. So instead of asking too many questions and quizzing children, try and use more comments that give opportunities for general conversation.
This will help them develop their language skills and enrich their vocabulary.
Thank you to all the parents who attended.
Lewisham Refugee & Migrant Network is based in Deptford and provides practical and therapeutic support to migrant women. They provided an employment workshop for parents as part of their outreach work. This gave useful advice on how to start looking for a job, what to include on a CV and ways to use your skills in the volunteering sector.
LRMN also came in for a coffee morning and are providing support to parents in our school on issues such as housing, immigration and benefits. For more information check out LRMN at lrmn.org.uk
What was your first memory of money? Can you really tell the difference between Lidl’s biscuits and those branded biscuits which cost twice as much?
Mustafa from the Social Quaker Action Group came to test our theories around spending and saving money with plenty of money-saving tips along the way which we could all share with each other. A really practical, fun and useful workshop for parents.
The residents of Bentley Court were invited to come and judge the Easter bonnet competition during an achievement assembly. It was a pretty difficult job as there were so many amazing and creative entries – our judges were certainly impressed! The judges then went to the Community Hub for a well earned cup of tea and hot cross buns.
Each time the Bentley Court residents come to school they are amazed by the range of activities and learning available as well as the politeness and good behavior of all the children. During the summer term, a group of children will go and visit the residents of Bentley Court.