The Victoria Climbie Foundation-Community Based With A Professional Face

9:30pm Monday 6th January 2014

Walking through the halls and navigating through the somewhat gloomy Southall Dominion Centre corridors, hidden like a diamond in the ruff, I found The Victoria Climbie Foundation, and along with it nervousness and anticipation. Once I eventually swung open the organisations doors I felt as if I had stumbled upon a goldmine or been warped through a portal.

 

Upon entrance, I was met with immediate welcoming, a sense of collective acceptance, and some light-hearted banter. My first impressions of a tight knit team who work just as well together as they do individually were not wrong. VCF radiated a youthful and vibrant aura.

 

As committed as VCF are to the community, It came as no surprise that within weeks I would find myself shadowing one of their Active Listening Sessions which “seeks to support young victims of abuse, including abuse linked to faith or belief. “ These sessions, held by caseworker Anja Middleton, involve earnest discussions in which the youngsters are given constructive criticism in the form of interactive activities within an environment in which they feel both safe and comfortable. This is to allow them to asses ,amend and progress through the collaborative setting of SMART targets and desired short and long term goals,. Ultimately, the sessions motivate inspire and empower.

 

As a notorious powerhouse of child protection, VCF is remarkably small but not in the slightest diminutive.  Operating out of a spacious room, boasting a melting pot of cultures and spectrum of talents such as the silver-tongued Stephanie Yorath, who, manages to carry out the empirical role she holds in the organisation with a pleasant guile.


The versatile mother-to-be Anja is a jack-of-all-trades whose fresh, upbeat-professionalism hybrid seamlessly compliments the VCF ambiance.Co-founder Mor Dioum’s charisma, character and integrity inspires action; a leader who manages to simultaneously charm and disarm the sternest of government ‘suits’.


Whilst conducting my interviews for this article with some of the staff of VCF, I noticed a pattern; a shared ethos right the way through from director, Mor Dioum, to volunteer Zobair Arya. This united, cohesive philosophy is much attributed to VCF’s success.I was intrigued to know what the main factor was for team members joining VCF, how VCF differs from other organisations, and how they identify success. First, Mor Dioum, Co-Founder and Director, provided me with his views, reasons, and answers.

 

Mor started up The Victoria Climbie Foundation after the horrific death of Victoria Climbie and to “Ensure people are aware of their safeguarding”. As to what Mor felt distinguishes VCF from any other organisation , he confidently replied, “For the first time in the history of child protection in Britain, VCF has an implemented a specialised child protection structure, to ensure that the recommendations in Victoria Climbie public enquiry report are implemented at operation level”.

 

VCF’s uniqueness came in different forms to others. Caseworker Anya found it more that the foundation “makes you feel like you are a part of something truly special”. Whilst for Programme Director, Stephanie, VCF’s individuality came about through the fact that “Even though we are a community-based organisation, we offer a professional face to the safeguarding sector. Alongside a holistic and empathetic approach to the children & family, we work with”. Indeed this question did divide opinion, however, my final question, regarding success for VCF, received a concerted answer: to see fewer cases going through the family proceeding court, through the continued to liaising with statutory agencies and empowerment of clients.

 

Throughout my time at the organisation, it became clear that VCF is truly a gemstone of Southall and Ealing, child safeguarding and protection is paramount, delivered with a holistic humanistic approach.
 

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