Supported: Finding Hope in Connectedness

Supported: Finding Hope in Connectedness

22nd April 2021

James, Headteacher at a TLG Education Centre, reflects on how TLG Education Centres focus on developing successful connections with a student struggling in their education, getting alongside them to support them on their journey. 

Something I love about working for TLG is the emphasis we have on ‘team’. One of our culture statements is: “We get there together.”  

By collaborating, we achieve better results for our amazing young people and we enjoy the journey more, knowing we have each other’s backs. As well as it simply making sense, there’s a Biblical mandate for us to connect with each other like this in unity. It’s worth saying here that unity doesn’t mean we are all the same, rather it means we understand and value each other’s differences and unite around common goals. This enables us to achieve a greater impact than we would on our own, as we combine our strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. 

It’s clear we were designed to be connected, then, but what about those for whom that’s not possible right now. Those who are isolated and ‘on the margins,’ like some of the children and families prior to them being supported by TLG? How do we seek successful connections with people struggling in real situations? By coming alongside those who need support, listening without judging, and genuinely travelling the journey with them for a time. 

In our TLG Education Centres we get to do this every single day. Building good relationships with our students is a key ingredient to them succeeding and it’s what we love most about our jobs! A large part of this is listening: making space in our busy days to allow our young people to express what they’re thinking and feeling, working with them to find the roots of their issues and co-regulate their emotions.  

Another part is travelling the journey, whatever ups and downs that might bring. We give each young person a fresh start each day, not holding yesterday’s misdemeanours against them but welcoming them warmly with a smile and of course some toast. We give them our best during that day, expecting their best in return.  

As they come towards the end of their journey with us, we advocate on their behalf to secure the best possible support from their next school or placement. When a student first comes through our doors, we don’t know what the outcome will be but we invest our time and energy anyway. The end product is usually a brighter, more hopeful future than they were heading towards before. For some that’s a return to mainstream school, for others it’s having developed closer relationships and for others it’s changed attitudes and thought patterns. 

I know that many people don’t have the opportunity to work directly with these amazing children and families, but everyone can support from a distance and I have seen first-hand that your support makes a huge difference.  

You could become a Hope Giver and donate each month to help TLG increase our impact. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to be convinced to do this myself. I thought I was giving enough already with my time and energy in person. However, thinking of the many young people who won’t get access to TLG’s support unless people donate and the more Education Centres that can be launched if people do, I realised even a small amount each month can make a big difference. I only give £2.50 per month, but if all my Facebook friends did this too it would be nearly £1000 per month instead. If everyone who follows me on Twitter did the same, that’s be another £4000 each month. Altogether, that becomes £60,000 in a year. If they then told all their friends... wow! 

For others, the best way to support might be to pray, volunteer or encourage and get alongside your local volunteers. In addition, simply telling others about TLG is so helpful. You may not be in a position to give financially right now, but the person you talk to next about us might be. Whichever way you feel is right for you, thank you for supporting us and bringing hope to struggling young people and their families. Just think: if each person reading this tries to connect in some way with those on the margins, whether directly or indirectly, what a huge impact we could have. Bleak situations completely turned around; young people with a hope and a future; lives transformed for good. 

To become a Hope Giver today, click here. To find out more about James’ work at ‘Wellbeing for Educators and Leaders in Learning’, click here

James Birchenough

James Birchenough

James is the Headteacher at one of TLG's Education Centres. He is married with 2 young children. He began his teaching career as a primary school teacher in Stoke-on-Trent and has been at TLG since 2016!

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