Neither a home nor a school, Cherry Trees is not here to teach but to do one thing - prevent family break down by offering respite breaks to families with young people with disabilities.  

The modern asks made by our evolving and wider society can present new moments of 'how are we going to go about that?' for our professional and experienced care teams. A recent and thought provoking moment where this has come up recently was after our last Ofsted visit which has seen a focus in the house on doing more around equal opportunities. 

Back in October we were thrilled to of been awarded a rating of Good and have since been working on all the extra little bits that we know we can achieve to get us to an 'outstanding' rating. One area that we have been doing lots of work on, at Cherry Trees has been to; ' “further embed and understand and celebrate difference in all aspects of the service” ' (source: Ofsted report 2018). 

Whilst Ofsted have not prescribed that we set up anything as rigid as equality training for a group of young people coming here for respite, we can see they want a little more from us to ensure we are shining a spotlight on difference and explaining to our young people why it matters (or not – depending on which way you look at it).

Somewhat of an unusual matrix to be presented with, to be required to highlight diversity - yet to an audience already comfortably within the extremities of the diversity category themselves. It's a Russian doll moment - or an onion if you will - to be actively demonstrating our awareness of The Equality Act of 2010 , to a group of people who sit well within it's protective layers already but who may not be able to fully understand what it is we are asking of them to take in, celebrate or 'embed’ because of their own disabilities.

Our care team’s ingenious efforts on how to tackle the ‘onion matrix’ have been resourceful, knowledgeable and used all that we have at our finger tips to make it happen. Ella from our care team explains some of the ways difference has been celebrated in recent weeks here:

“Promoting equality and diversity in house is essential for both staff and children. The aim is to create an environment where all can thrive together and understand that individual characteristics make people unique and not ‘different’ in a negative way.

We have been trying to approach topics of diversity and equality with the children at Cherry Trees through activities and through themed weeks. We have celebrated the Scottish Burns Night, including our Chef making Scottish foods for tea and the children taking part in trying to do some weaving. We have also had a Greek themed movie day, the children enjoyed watching and singing to Mamma Mia 2 and enjoyed a delicious meal of Greek foods. The children have been able to try different foods, listen to cultural music, play games, learn facts and watch videos about different cultures.

We have been conscious of what resources we use at Cherry Trees, when choosing our books and activities for the children, we have made sure that they have included people from different backgrounds or with disabilities to show that differences are normal, we have avoided resources where stereotypes are used and have spent a long time researching and sourcing the correct material for our children. We have found stories that challenge perceptions, including Leslea Newman’s book ‘Heather Has Two Mummies’ and ‘There’s a Boy Just Like Me’ by Frasier Cox. Both stories give the opportunity for discussion and give information in an appropriate way. These kind of stories will encourage the children of Cherry Trees to think about their beliefs and look at the world in a different way.

During the year we have hosted events for New Year, Burns Night, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Holi, St Patricks Day, and there are so many more activities planned for the year ahead that will raise awareness of culture and religion."

Related links of interest:

A few books we came across which we thought of interest: