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Churches back new bullied children centre

RedBalloonChildren1The backing of a number of Norwich churches has enabled a city support group for bullied children to open its doors full-time from next January.
 
And it is appealing for volunteer teachers and people who could help with decorating the new premises at Park Lane Methodist Church in Norwich.

The group, currently only meets once a week with children aged 11 to 16 who have been unable to attend mainstream schools due to bullying. “It offers a safe environment where children can receive emotional support and get back on an educational track, as well as providing support to parents,” said Norwich trustees chairperson, Maria Wilson, who attends Proclaimers Church.

The group first formed thanks to Red Balloon in Norwich, a charity for severely bullied children, in conjunction with children’s charity, Barnardo’s in March 2006. The full-time Red Balloon Learner Centre in Norwich, will be modelled on a similar centre in Cambridge, which is now in its tenth year.  The Cambridge school has rescued close to 80 children since it was opened in 1996. 

RedBalloonChildren2The children at the Centre will receive a full-time education, as well as art and drama therapy, and individual and group work to help them deal with the traumas they have suffered and face up to the future.  It is hoped after their time at Red Balloon, they will able go back into mainstream education, or on to college or jobs.

Red Balloon development officer, Rachel Drory said: ‘After successful talks with Norfolk Education Authority we are delighted the bullied children of Norwich who are currently missing out on their education will reap the rewards of the full-time Norwich Red Balloon Learner Centre. The group have gone from strength to strength thanks to massive support from the local community.’

The centre will be based at Park Lane Methodist Church in Norwich from January. Maria said: “ Park Lane have been in a bit of a dilemma as they thought they were going to have to close due to lack of numbers and the increasing costs of keeping their premises open. When I met Liz Sidebottom who showed us around the premises she said she had been praying for an answer to their problem and she believes that Red Balloon is it. We both acknowledged that the Lord brings his people together.”

Local support for the new centre has been plentiful, with help ranging from Meadow Way Chapel in Hellesdon who first provided cheap facilities for the group; Music Wise and CME (Community Music East) who ran a junk percussion and composition workshop for the young people and their parents.

Taverham Evangelical Church-based maths teacher, Steve Gaskin, from ActiveTalk in Norwich volunteered to give free one-to-one tuition to children at the group once a week. Dr Ian Gibson MP and Norman Lamb MP have also pledged their support.

Most of the children at Cambridge Red Balloon Learner Centre have their education paid for by the Cambridgeshire Local Education Authority.  Other funds, such as maintenance and expansion of the premises have to be raised via public donations.

If you are a student out of school because you have been bullied or you are a parent of a child out of school, please contact Rachel Drory on 07929 875 893 or at rachel.drory@barnardos.org.uk for more information.  

From September 7th to December 14th the Norwich support group will meet at Chapelfield Methodist Church, every Thursday from 09.30am until 14.00pm.
for more information.  From September 7 to December 14 the Norwich support group will meet at , every Thursday from 09.30am until 14.00pm.

Pictured above are children at the existing centre.

 

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