We caught up with Katherine Kilbane, Assistant Headteacher and Inclusion & Safeguarding Lead at Denton Community College, a school that is receiving Power2 support.

“We have a student population of approximately 1450 which for Manchester is quite significant in size. Our area has a very mixed demographic. We’re on the commuter belt so a number of parents are professional, but we also have a high percentage of young people who come from very disadvantaged backgrounds. We also have a high number of transient students moving in and out all the time.”

“There have always been significant social problems at our school but there have been more since the impact of covid on disadvantaged communities. Despite those challenges, we have an incredibly ambitious student population and supportive parents – but I can’t pretend that there aren’t significant social challenges.”

“The impact of the pandemic on young people, particularly vulnerable young people, has been nothing short of catastrophic. There doesn’t seem to have been a great deal of recognition or acknowledgement that certain communities have been absolutely floored in a way that other communities haven’t. So many agencies have disappeared and withered. What we’ve found is that more is being expected of schools to pick up. You know that even includes healthcare-related issues, there’s a whole range of different sorts of referrals that are coming into schools. It just feels like schools are the only functioning agency that exists anymore as everyone is completely compressed.”

“Comparing now to three years ago, the threshold for child protection seems to be so much higher before intervention is given to families and children, that it just feels very worrying for the future of some of our more vulnerable youngsters and their families. The support just isn’t there for them outside of school generally.”

Power2 has supported a number of vulnerable young people at Denton Community College.

“The primary criteria for referral to Power2 Thrive was poor attendance for a variety of different reasons. When we talk about school refusal, it’s never just a simple case of saying ‘a child doesn’t like school’, there’s always a reason behind that. Kids don’t wake up in the morning wanting to fall out with the adults in the school. Chaos in the home, a lack of engagement with services, the impact of real poverty on their lives, and attachment disorders suddenly appearing from nowhere were just some of the challenges our referred young people were facing. Some of the young people who were referred simply didn’t want to leave their parents which is why they weren’t attending school.

“For the young people on Power2 Thrive, there was a completely smashed sense of self and self-worth amongst them. They just didn’t feel very good about themselves.”

Power2 works with over 1,000 children and young people every year, helping them to develop their wellbeing, re-engage with school, and access opportunities. What we do is transformative.

“One of the evident and obvious impacts of the programme on these young people was that the day when the session was on was the day that they would be in. When you want very simple evidence of how much a youngster values something, that’s the quickest and easiest way. As the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the primary relief that gave was that I was now actually seeing those children at least once a week. This then led to them building relationships and bridges with their class teachers that some of them haven’t seen for absolutely ages. It’s difficult sometimes for kids to identify that school can be their place of safety.”

Our impact speaks for itself. Across all our programmes, 81% of beneficiaries increase their self-confidence, 77% increase their self-esteem and 75% become less shy and withdrawn.

“We saw massive improvements in engagement. We managed quite quickly to get them more engaged with lessons and learning, and more engaged with the curriculum.”

“Power2 Thrive is nothing without the personnel running it. I have to say our Power2 Programme Lead was nothing short of magnificent. They were absolutely the right person for our school and our cohort of youngsters. The Power2 team is the primary reason we want to continue and grow this. They get us and haven’t given up.”

“There was never any negativity, they embraced everything. They were so supportive and so diligent and so wonderful with those young people. But in a very driven way. It was friendly without being friends with them, it was purposeful. I really think that they are super special. I’m very much looking forward to working with Power2 next year.”