Ipswich: A glimpse of life in a children’s home

EACH child has a different story.

Some have been removed from the home because it was deemed unsafe, others have been put up for adoption and in some instances they have asked for help themselves.

Kaye Garwood, registered manager of Woodmans Children’s Home, based in Martlesham Heath, has the job of managing five youngsters living under the same roof but with extremely different backgrounds.

While she maintains that the job is stressful, hard work and at times heartbreaking, she told The Ipswich Star that she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It is the most rewarding job imaginable,” she said. “I think a lot of that is because I know that in some way I’m having an impact on that child’s life.”

Ms Garwood has worked at the children’s home for three years, in her time she has seen teenagers aged between 11 and 16 come and go.

“Some children are here for a few weeks, or a few months - the youngest we have had is two years.

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“During that time we try to build a good relationship with the children and it can be quite hard to build up that trust because of a number of factors. Getting them to trust you is the key because to a lot of these teenagers, trust is everything.

“It can be very hard, at the end of the day they are teenagers and like any teenager, sometimes they want to push the boundaries a little bit.”

The home, which is based near to Suffolk Constabulary’s headquarters, has 12.4 members of full-time staff.

Over the years, the home’s staff and youngsters have built up good relationships with the police, with officers regularly coming to meet and support the teens.

To encourage the teenagers to go to school, the home operates a pay-per-day scheme, they also get pocket money for carrying out chores and going to bed on time.

David Johnson, head of corporate parenting for Suffolk County Council, said: “There has been an increase in the number of looked-after children and there are trends within these figures, such as the fact that more boys are waiting to be adopted than girls.

“We have children’s homes in areas across Suffolk – our ones in Pakefield, Lowestoft and in Ipswich were both given an outstanding by a recent OFSTED report and I think that shows how well the service is doing in the county.

“In days gone by I think children’s homes were looked upon as something completely different to what they are nowadays – which is a good thing, clearly.

“Our main aim is always to ensure that children are in a stable environment and in some situations, this will be a children’s home.”

The county council’s budget for these services is �23million a year.