In 2020 we launched an ambitious strategy that focused on narrowing the attainment gap for Key Stage 2 children across Bath and North East Somerset by 2030.
Through the Foundation Fund support is provided to children from birth to 12 years old to help them grow into healthy, happy educated members of our community. Interventions have been funded that directly work on increasing educational outcomes as well as addressing children’s physical, behavioural, and emotional needs. The Foundation Fund comprises three programmes:
- The Primary Empowerment Programme funds additional support with foundational reading, writing, maths, oracy, and with emotional and behavioural wellbeing.
- The Early Years Programmes funds speech, language and mental health support to children aged 3-5 in pre-school environments.
- The Nutritious Food and Safe Places Programme funds the distribution of food across the region, food clubs and pantries.
Few things are as powerful as the ability to read. We are able to experience joy alongside the characters whose tales we know and love. The pages we read give us inspiration, hope, motivation and most importantly happiness, as well providing the foundation for our ability to learn and understand the world around us.
St John’s is passionate about supporting children as they learn and grow. It is vital to us that we work with others to provide an environment where children have the chance to live happy, healthy lives and in turn, contribute to our communities for generations to come.
This year, we will be donating all proceeds from our Bath Half run to the schools we support through our Foundation Fund initiative. The Fund targets children from pre-birth to the beginning of secondary school and has been designed to reduce the educational attainment gap across Bath and North East Somerset, by providing a wealth of support in areas such as oracy, literacy, maths, and emotional and behavioural health.
All monies raised will provide books to the primary schools we support through the Foundation Fund and will benefit students in not only their learning, but also enhancing their imagination and creativity, encouraging social skills amongst their peers and the wider community. Together we can work together to ensure all children have access to a fair and equal start in their lives.
With the cost of living starting to take its toll, many parents across our communities are struggling to cover the cost of providing breakfast and lunch for their children. Therefore, St John’s Foundation has initiated a scheme to help provide this vital support.
St John’s is currently working with seven primary schools across Bath and North East Somerset, providing support to help ensure that all children receive the right start in life. Within these schools the level of children who are entitled to free school meals (‘FSM’) is at its highest. However, we are also aware there are children who are not eligible. Given there are many households in receipt of low incomes in the catchment areas served by ‘our’ schools that have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis and that the threshold for FSM entitlement is so low we have therefore pledged to cover the cost of children not entitled to FSM to also have a hot lunch each day. This means that over 700 children will have the opportunity to access the same free meals as their peers until July 2024.
Plans are also underway to work with partners to ensure meals are available for children attending these schools over weekends and school holidays, as a means to help parents cope with the rising cost of bills and to support the development of their children
A Head Teacher from one of our schools involved with the initiative told us that the amount she was spending on her breakfast club provision had doubled due to the cost-of-living. Clare Greene from St Michael’s Junior Church School added
“Some of our parents were not sure if it was real and sent their children in with packed lunches just in case! There were some VERY happy children today and lots of the kids had seconds! I sat and ate with them as usual but there was just so much joy and lots of full stomachs – thank you St John’s”
Many families within these seven schools are struggling financially yet not eligible for free school meals.
Nationally the figure for those known to be living in poverty but who are not registered for free school meals sits at 1.6million. The eligibility criteria for free school meals means that children above Year 3 (8 years old) must live in a household receiving income-related benefits, with an annual income – after tax and not including welfare payments – of no higher than £7,400 a year, or £142.30 a week.
About 40% of people who claim universal credit already have jobs and may earn above this threshold.
One parent commented
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to St John’s. I’m starting a new job tomorrow and I’ve gone to pay for my daughters school meals to find out that St John’s are providing it for all the children at Roundhill Primary School who are not eligible for free school meals. This gesture alone has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders, and I am ever so grateful for all the hard work and generosity of St John’s.”
BaNES Council revealed the extent of poverty in our community when they shared that 1 in 5 of children in BaNES are living in ‘absolute’ poverty – that’s around 6,000 people under the age of 15 years.
It’s important to remember that behind every statistic is a hungry child in our community that requires our help.
Every young person has the potential to do well at school however we know that a lack of nutritious food inhibits brain development. Since the launch of our Foundation Fund in 2020, we have been working with partners and national organisations to help eradicate the need for emergency food provision and address the inequalities in the educational attainment across Bath and North East Somerset – this funding support is further step towards making this a reality.
Join us for our 2022 Christmas Fair!
Hosted at St Michael’s Chapel on 2nd December, we’re excited to share a range of stalls including wares made by our residents in the workshops from our Good Living activities programme.
Featuring Bath Shed and Stitch Class, we also have lots of local arts and crafts, food, hot drinks and much more.
Prepare for Christmas and support St John’s Foundation at the same time!
St Michaels Chapel, Chapel Court, City Centre, BA1 1SQ
December 2nd, 10am-1pm
St John’s Foundation launched its current strategy in February 2020. An integral part of this was to carry out an extensive review of all our property holdings. The review ultimately recommended that we should seek to sell several clusters of properties we hold across the city. In doing this we will be able to re-invest the funds in other classes of investment assets. This will help us achieve a more balanced mix of investments and therefore to generate the income we require to continue implementing our ambitious programme of charitable activities, as well as to maintain our financial health for future generations.
We commenced a programme of marketing selected properties for sale over a year ago and this process will continue. We are currently working with Carter Jonas in Bath to find appropriate purchaser(s) for three clusters of residential investment properties, at Beauford Square, South Parade and Lark Place. This offers prospective residential property investors the opportunity to acquire and become custodians of unique and beautiful buildings in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath and we expect to attract early interest.
The Nest Project’s vision is to ensure every child living in Bath and North East Somerset is provided for. To make their vision a reality The Nest provides clothing and equipment for children aged 0-5, free of charge, whilst also lending a listening ear and acting as a primary contact for signposting to various other charities and services.
St John’s Foundation works in partnership with The Nest Project to build communities where children can grow into happy, healthy and educated members of society. The work delivered through the Foundation Fund supports levelling the educational playing field in our communities and helps eradicate inequalities.
Reaching more communities is central to St John’s and The Nest’s Project’s long-term strategy. The expansion will make The Nest more accessible for families across the city, especially those without transport. To support and further The Nest’s reach within the community St John’s awarded funding of £63,800. This funding has directly impacted 651 beneficiaries through the provision of essential items, toddler groups and support services.
The Nest project used a portion of its funding to buy essential items (such as stair gates, baby monitors, and strollers) that are often in high demand for parents. This has resulted in a positive impact for families, and beneficiaries’ needs have been met quickly with high-quality new equipment. Just in the 5-month window of October 2021 – Feb 2022, The Nest Project has gifted the community of Bath:
- 17 highchairs
- 35 cots
- 30 stair gates and monitors
- 3077 items of clothing
- 341 toiletries
- 33 pushchairs
- 621 miscellaneous.
- 350 Christmas boxes
The funding has made taking referrals, carrying out deliveries, and signposting users to services easier. The team now holds a regular toddler group in Twerton, which is at the heart of the community. It is a fun and safe place for parents to bring their children, offering free refreshments, homemade cake, crafts, and singing.
Having representatives in the community is now possible using the funding. A weekly representative joins another Toddler Group in Mulberry Park while a monthly representative is now present at the Oasis Food Pantry.
The team has seen the positive effect the group has had in building a support network and improving social and mental health, as well as making it easier to provide clothing and equipment for these families too. The Nest has been able to refer families to food pantries, domestic abuse charities, and other agencies across Bath such as The Future Bright Project, Maternity Voices, and Cook it classes. They have also been working with the Women’s Work Lab, offering work placements, and giving mothers a chance to get back into work.
The team has helped mothers who have previously had children taken into care. They have also assisted in delivering essential items to ensure their children are clean, healthy, and safe when returning home. The Nest has also partnered with the Lotus Midwives in order to provide services and support for vulnerable mothers-to-be.
“In December, we had an emergency call from Bath and North East Somerset for a family of 7 children who had been taken into Foster homes very suddenly. They had been split across a number of Foster families who weren’t all prepared for the emergency situation. The children were riddled with nits and bed bugs and came with nothing. We were able to provide each of the children with Christmas boxes, and bags of warm winter clothing, as well as stairgates and various equipment that the Foster families needed quickly before everything closed for Christmas. It was a truly heart breaking story, but we felt privileged to be able to provide these items on the day they were requested”.
“We had an emergency referral from the Children’s Team in BaNES, for a Mother arriving by train that afternoon with baby, having fled from a situation, arriving to an empty flat. Within half an hour we were able to prepare everything they needed – clothes, equipment, bedding, highchair, weaning items, books, play mat etc so she would have what she needed when she arrived”.
“We have four mums that regularly attend our Friday toddler group, who have all been in abusive relationships and have been helped by Voices. Here is a quote from one of those mums: ‘I love coming to The Nest Project group on Fridays. It’s a friendly, nice atmosphere, and the kids enjoy it. My daughter is a lockdown baby and hasn’t seen many people. It’s helping her get used to socialising as she was really anxious around other people before. It really helps me too, it gets me out socialising, I love meeting other new mums, and it helps my own mental health and my anxiety, having been in an abusive relationship. It’s the only toddler group we enjoy and feel comfortable going to. It makes my Friday so much better.’”
At St John’s we offer quality alms apartments based in the center of Bath and Combe Park, adjacent to the RUH. In total, we have 94 alms apartments, creating a community, which supports and empowers people to live independently.
We currently have both single and double occupancy vacancies.
Our accommodation supports older adults who are actively independent to continue to direct their own life, safe in the knowledge there is, if needed, support from neighbours and the wider community.
We are not to be confused with care homes or assisted living, because you are responsible for yourself, but you are just surrounded by similar people.
There is a wonderful social scene at St John’s, and you can be involved as much or as little as you wish.
If you wish to register your interest in an apartment, please email email@example.com or call 07725277145.
February 2020 saw the creation of St John’s Foundation Fund. This was developed with the specific aim of narrowing the Attainment Gap for Key Stage 2 children living in Bath and North East Somerset. Our organisation’s manifesto echoes this commitment, and we have been funding areas of focus that best support children aged 0 to 12 years old and their families.
Now, nearly two years on, we wanted to share an update of the work achieved by the Fund throughout 2021.
Aim: to ensure all children in Bath and North East Somerset are ready to transition into primary school.
How we worked to achieve this aim:
Language for Life – In July 2021, St John’s Foundation collaborated with HCRG Care Group (formerly Virgin Care) and BaNES Council, to launch the Language for Life project. This project focuses on supporting pre-school children to reach their age-related expectations in communication and language development before they transition into primary school settings in Bath and Keynsham.
Language for Life offers a refreshed, area-specific early years approach to speech and language development. With the support of a newly appointed lead Speech and Language Therapist, Early Years practitioners are offered the opportunity to adopt the Wellcomm communications and language toolkit; an evidence-based assessment and intervention programme designed for use by Early Years practitioners with no additional specialist skills required.
Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Partnership (PEWP) – Initially funded by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the BaNES Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Partnership (PEWP) supports the mental health of mothers in the period immediately before and after the birth of their children. The PEWP brings together NHS midwives, HCRG Care health visitors, BaNES children’s centres and several local charities to support new mothers experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health needs, through a range of one-to-one and group-based interventions.
St John’s awarded match-funding alongside the CCG to fund three organisations to deliver services as part of the PEWP. These services were:
- Bluebell Care – A structured, 11 week, therapeutic, group programme for mothers experiencing ante and post-natal depression and/or anxiety
- Bright Start – Specialist, trauma-informed, one-to-one counselling
- Open Space – Arts-based group psychotherapy sessions
Combined, these services support approximately 75 beneficiaries per year.
Aim: to ensure nutritious food is accessible to all families across Bath and North East Somerset
How we worked to achieve this aim:
Over £100,000 was awarded to projects that provide access to affordable food and wider support in our community. These included:
- BaNES Council – funding for the role of Public Health Officer in relation to food insecurity.
- BaNES Council – supporting the local authority to carry out bi-annual Health and Wellbeing Surveys across all local primary and secondary schools
- FareShare SouthWest – supplying nutritious food to many affordable food projects run by charities across Bath and North East Somerset
- Holiday Activities Fund – funding 11 small-scale summer holiday projects for disadvantaged children
- Oasis Hub – start-up costs for a pantry project in Southdown, co-funded with Feeding Britain
- Schools – grants to support breakfast club provision for schools accessing our Primary Empowerment Programme
Aim: To ensure all children across Bath and North East Somerset meet their educational age-related expectations for Key Stage 2
How we worked to achieve this aim:
During 2021, we engaged with the seven primary schools that have 40% of the most disadvantaged primary school children in BaNES to provide pupils with additional support with foundational reading, writing, oracy, and mathematics, as well as emotional support.
£820,841 was released to fund six delivery partners to support the seven schools under the strands of oracy; reading and writing; numeracy and emotional and behavioural support. The schools themselves have also received funding to directly support their reading and writing work.
The Primary Empowerment Schools are:
- Castle Primary School, Keynsham
- Roundhill Primary School, Southdown, Bath
- St Keyna Primary School, Keynsham
- St Martin’s Garden Primary School, Odd Down, Bath
- St Mary’s School, Writhlington
- St Michael’s Junior Church School, Twerton, Bath
- Twerton Infants School, Twerton, Bath
The schools also received a further £7,000 each at the beginning of 2021 to support them through the pandemic. They were encouraged to use this funding to support activities the children would have otherwise missed out on. Uses of the funds included reading books, swimming lessons and a school dog.
Our next, and arguably most important phase, is to measure the impact that all these funded programmes are having. All delivery partners were selected due to their knowledge and expertise in the areas St John’s is aiming to address; however, time will tell how successful they will be.
To help us do this we have recruited educational experts ImpactEd to be our external evaluation partner.
We will be releasing a report at the end of 2022 to demonstrate the impact the Foundation Fund programmes are having on children’s lives,
Earlier today The Duchess of Cornwall visited Bath-based charity VOICES to learn how they work with survivors and overcomers of abuse on their journey of recovery.
The Duchess, Patron of local charity, St John’s Foundation since 2019, has been a long -term advocate for raising awareness of and preventing domestic abuse.
Her Royal Highness’s visit to VOICES was to witness the holistic, early help and recovery work they do with women and their families. The charity also provides a platform for the voices of those impacted by domestic abuse to influence policy and provision of services. VOICES was founded and is led by people with lived experience of domestic abuse.
Upon arrival, Her Royal Highness was met by Ms Ursula Lindenberg, Director of Voices, and St John’s Chief Exec, David Hobdey, and Director, Louise Harvey. She was then introduced to key staff members of the charity, as well as the centre’s counsellors. The Duchess then sat down with a few of VOICE’s long-term clients to discuss their experience of the charity and how it had provided support for them.
Ursula, Director of Voices said “HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has been a staunch champion of the rights of women and girls to live free from abuse and violence. We are honoured by her visit and delighted to show her the work VOICES does to help people to recover and thrive, and to enable survivors to influence policy and improve support for others.”
Previously in March 2017, in conjunction with Boots UK, The Duchess of Cornwall launched the Wash Bag Project, a scheme that provides a wash bag of toiletries to people across the UK who have been affected by rape and sexual abuse. The wash bags are provided by Boots UK and are given to Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) clients who have undergone a forensic examination, providing them with some comfort at a difficult time.
More recently, in October 2021, Her Royal Highness spoke at a reception for the ‘Shameless! Festival’. During her speech, The Duchess said “This country has been appalled and saddened by the loss of women to violence this year… We do not, in any way, hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we do need them all on board to tackle it. After all, rapists are not born, they are constructed. And it takes an entire community – male and female – to dismantle the lies, words and actions that foster a culture in which sexual assault is seen as normal, and in which it shames the victim.”
Prior to her visit to Voices, The Duchess had visited Roundhill Primary School in Southdown in support of another project close to her heart – that of improving oracy and literacy in children. Touchingly, the children treated her to a rendition of a song written especially for her visit called ‘We Are Proud of Our School’