A true partnership: Separated Child and eSynergy

The Separated Child Foundation was set up in 2007. It runs a number of projects aimed at providing emotional, social, financial and physical support to lone refugee youth in the United Kingdom (separated children).
Until two-and-a-half years ago, the charity was run by trustees. At that point, they took on their first member of staff, Richard Hammond (as Chief Executive). Richard tells us the story of Separated Child and the charity’s relationship with eSynergy…

Unmet need

When I arrived, the charity was carrying out some fabulous work with separated children in the UK but we were aware there was more we could do in terms of addressing their unmet needs.  During my first two years here, we’ve been focusing on building income and growing our provision of arrival and sleep packs for separated children arriving in the UK. We’re now also in the position of being able to develop new support projects.

Why we’re needed

There are around three thousand separated children coming into the UK each year. These children arrive in the UK without their parents or loved ones. They’ve often had to leave their own countries due to war, terror or prosecution. These children aren’t fleeing to the UK to ‘improve’ their lives, they’re fleeing because they’re in mortal danger.

What happens when they arrive?

When they arrive in the UK, the most pressing needs for these children (sometimes the journey has taken them months or even years) are warm clothes, toiletries, clean underwear and waterproofs. So, we put together ‘arrival packs’ for them. So far this year, we’ve provided almost two thousand of these packs to the children.

Many of these youngsters suffer from sleep issues due to post-traumatic stress disorder. Often, they’re very vulnerable and – because they’ve been travelling at night and sleeping during the day – they’re nocturnal and suffer from terrible nightmares. Usually, a social worker or case-worker will pick up on these sleep problems.

We have – in partnership with a child psychologist – developed a sleep pack, which contains useful items like an eye mask, earplugs and a night light – which makes a huge difference to traumatised children (there are up to ten items in one of these packs and they’re distributed across the local and national organisations that support separated children across the country). These have been shown to really improve the well-being of the children as they settle into life in the UK. Demand for these has nearly doubled during the last year so we know there’s plenty of unmet need still out there.

Club Class

We also work in partnership with the Refugee Council in offering separated children a weekly  ‘Club Class’. This is a combination of both a ‘club’ and a ‘class’ for up to thirty children, currently based in Croydon. Club Class helps them to acclimatise to life in the UK: This means teaching them simple things like how to get around London and how to stay safe online, as well as more complex issues such as how to deal with bullying in school and looking after their mental health. It also offers them the chance to mix with other young people who have had similar experiences. The feedback from these sessions is really encouraging and we’d love to set up another Club Class somewhere else in the UK.

Where we are now

Over the last few months, we’ve run quite a detailed sector-wide review to identify the unmet needs of separated children. This review pointed to a real need for more direct activities with young people, such as developing leadership skills, supporting mental health, participating in sports or just having fun and essentially focusing on ‘being children’.

As we grow, in terms of developing our organisation, income and staff (we’re just about to take on a professional programme manager as a result of our review), we need to find new ways of developing our infrastructure. We’ve developed a suite of policies over the past couple of years but there remains a number of areas where we need do not yet have the internal expertise.

A true partnership

Some months ago, we were introduced to Patrick at eSynergy (at that time, he was looking for a charity to support). Patrick was amazingly supportive from the word ‘go’. He understood our situation and was empathetic – he’s really thrown the weight of eSynergy behind us; they’re a much larger organisation than us and have the infrastructure in place to support our efforts.

The last few months have been an amazing journey. We’ve really come a long way together – we see it as a true partnership. For a small charity, opportunities for corporate partnerships seldom arise: eSynergy is supporting us without asking for anything in return – although, obviously, there’s the feelgood factor and we hope that eSynergy’s staff are enjoying the partnership as well!

Where has this relationship taken us?

So far, this relationship has taken us to a place where we’re developing and building out our HR policies – thanks to Paula from eSynergy for her help there! We’ve also been working with Cara and David on the marketing team, who have supported us hugely in developing our brand guidelines and tone of voice.

For a small charity like ours, to have brand guidelines to support our marketing efforts is absolutely amazing and really puts us ahead of the game. David has also redesigned and modernised our logo, which will shortly be signed-off by our trustees, while Cara has supported our social media efforts, setting up our Instagram account and helping us with our Twitter output. In terms of developing our messaging and public profile, this help has been invaluable.

IT and packing help

Meanwhile, Steve Coviello has been assisting with our IT, migrating and linking our individual email accounts over to Microsoft 365, without charge. This means we can see each other’s calendars; we have Teams and SharePoint; we now have an integrated system which, again, as a small charity, puts us ahead of the game. The whole process has absolutely changed the way we work, and at no charge to the charity whatsoever.

The eSynergy team has also been involved in the sorting and packing of our arrival and sleep packs (this was so successful that we’re looking for a date for another session). This further helps us to integrate as two organisations and for their staff to understand exactly what we do.

Utilising the eSynergy network

We’ve also had help from eSynergy’s associates. We recently had to make a pitch to a funder who gave us two weeks to produce a video for them. Drew at eSynergy, put us in touch with a friend of his who makes videos and he turned it around in under two weeks, interviewing myself and a founder trustee to use as part of this pitch. So, it’s not just the staff themselves at eSynergy who are helping us, they’re also putting us in touch with associates and friends who are helping too!

The whole partnership is working incredibly well and we’d love it to be a long-term relationship. Every member of eSynergy staff and every associate we’ve talked to and worked with has been an absolute delight. The level of support we’ve been afforded, with people giving up their free time and weekends for us, and the level of commitment and engagement, has been second to none.

Our future partnership

As we continue to develop as an organisation, we expect our relationship to go from strength to strength. As well as continuing to assist us professionally, Patrick and the team are aiming to raise money for us over the next year or so. It’s great for eSynergy to be working with us at the start of our journey; the charity has a huge amount of potential. We’ve identified the unmet need for separated children and our long-term relationship with eSynergy will allow us to develop our programme work with the backing of great infrastructure and resources.

This journey never ends. As we evolve and identify other areas where we need support, we would hope that eSynergy can offer us more and more expertise that’s as yet been untapped. It’s an incredibly progressive and committed organisation and they understand the journey we’re on. These children need and will always need our help. It’s important that they feel safe, supported and integrated to give them the best chance of a normal childhood. Ultimately, we’ll grow faster and support more children as a direct result of eSynergy’s support.

For more information on Separated Child, please visit the website.