Northampton children's centre for young victims of rape could close

File picture.File picture.
File picture.
Twenty-thousand pounds is urgently needed before August as doors could shut on a support centre for Northampton's youngest and most vulnerable victims of crime.

KidsAid Northamptonshire works across the East of England and provides creative arts therapy and counselling for children that have suffered any form of trauma including, abuse, neglect and serious illness.

The charity has never received any form of Government funding but for 11 years has relied on support from grant making trusts, businesses and generous donations.

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But, KidsAid said, after many local and national spending cuts have been slashed on similar services their small team of four staff now have a case load of 50 children, some of whom need more than the typical 24 one-on-one sessions with a therapist.

Pictures show a play area inside the centre which is a haven for the young children.Pictures show a play area inside the centre which is a haven for the young children.
Pictures show a play area inside the centre which is a haven for the young children.

Charity manager Suki Bassi said: "The impact therapy has on a child is immense. It can be a slow start because of the nature of the trauma they have experienced, they sometimes struggle to bond with the therapist.

"Especially when they are a looked-after child that has been from foster home to children's centre and they are probably on their fifth social worker."

Therapy progress is tracked through questionnaires, which is completed with the child, the child's teacher and child's carer before therapy can measure the impact the work has had.

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Suki added: "Anecdotally, we have children that write to us to tell us that they can't believe how different they feel, that they now have friends and are able to socialise or even find it easier to go to school because their anxiety has reduced.

"The reason we do what we do is to help them improve their resilience and coping strategies so they can enjoy life more.

"Comments from parent's carers have been along the lines of 'I can't believe he actually wants to go to school now' and 'thank you so much for making my daughter feel alive again'. "

Although Suki is not one of the therapists at KidsAid it does not stop her from making observations.

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Many of the children who access the centre are often beaten up, are starved, and in some cases burned with cigarettes.

Some however, are poorly. They have a terminal illness or are suffering mentally with a bereavement.

"I see the children when they first come in," she said. "They don't want to make eye contact, talk to you, they hold their heads down, look at their hands and generally are very withdrawn.

"But with each passing week, I start to see a child bouncing past the office for their session, talking, smiling, happy to be at KidsAid, and by the end I witness a complete change in their demeanour, a happy and confident child.

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"Some of the children that we see, we may have to work with again in the future, as issues may arise again for them as they get older, but on the whole, 24 sessions can be life changing."

We also offer Group Therapy in schools, but groups are only with children that have a lower threshold of need compared to the children that need the more intensive interventions. The feedback from these groups has been incredible too, with schools acknowledging the huge impact that the work has in their school communities.

It costs £70 to host a therapy session with a child, and on average, they will complete a course of 24 sessions.

"We do not ever want to have to turn a child away because we don't have enough money to work with them.

"But sadly, we feel this situation might come about if we cannot get more people to support us."

To donate to KidsAid, click here.