New facilities at Atkinson

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Vice Chairman, County Councillor Richard Edgell, officially open the new extension.

Posted on: 8 January 2018

A therapeutic secure children’s home for young people has had major improvements, thanks to funding from the Department for Education.

In formally opening the new two storey extension, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Patron of Northbrook Community Trust, said that she felt honoured and delighted to be associated with the home. She said that the home does a wonderful job and is such a positive and important influence on the lives of many very vulnerable young people.

The £1.1million improvements to the current building provides a new reception area where young people are welcomed when they arrive, visitor rooms and conference facilities.

The home is one of only seven welfare-only accommodation facilities in the country. Trained staff work closely with the young people to help them return to having a positive lifestyle within the community.

The new extended reception area is named the Connors’ Suite in memory of Lorraine Connors, a long standing member of the Atkinson’s staff who passed away in 2016.

Baroness Butler-Sloss paid tribute to Lorraine, and to the home’s former Head Teacher, Dai Parkes, who also passed away last year.

Lorraine joined Atkinson in 1995 as a team leader and dedicated her working life to looking after children. She was described as kind and warm with a wicked sense of humour, and didn’t fluster easily. Lorraine always managed a smile even when things were going awry, and was often likened to a swan – serene and graceful on the surface while paddling madly out of sight to ensure that everything was done.

Dai began teaching at the Atkinson School in 1997, teaching a variety of subjects. After a period as deputy head teacher Dai became head teacher in 2007. He introduced Forest School to the Atkinson curriculum, and ran it every week. Dai was described as a patient and extremely positive man, who was devoted to achieving the best outcome for the young people at Atkinson.

Vice Chairman of Devon County Council, Cllr Richard Edgell, paid tribute to Dai, announcing a commemorative plaque and bench that will be located in the garden this Spring. The garden and allotment area is an integral part of Atkinson where young people can learn new skills, such as looking after chickens and grow vegetables and flowers in the poly tunnel greenhouse.

Cllr Edgell said:

“This is a most impressive and very valuable extension to enhance these excellent facilities, to help the young people while staying here. Devon County Council was successful in securing the funding of over £1 million from the Department for Education to achieve these significant improvements.”

For more information about the Atkinson service, visit their website www.atkinsondevon.org

Posted in: Community | Education