SHiFT Bexley was launched in July 2022 and, after staff training and a detailed scoping exercise to identify and invite children for support, started working with children and families in September 2022. The Practice currently comprises a Lead Guide, Practice Coordinator and two Guides who, together, are working with 14 children – 13 boys and one girl, with most aged 15-18 (n=10) and most identifying as Black / Black British / Black Caribbean or Black African (n=7).
In light of the level of need identified during the scoping exercise and the strong impacts SHiFT is having in Bexley even after only six months, plans are already in place to extend the Practice to welcome another two Guides so that 27 children can be supported in each cycle of work. A particular strategic focus of SHiFT Bexley’s work is on reducing entry into / time in Local Authority Care, including reducing risk and safeguarding concerns so that children can be safe without care pathway support.
Highlights from evaluation undertaken in June 2023, covering the Practice’s first six months of work from September 2022 to March 2023, included:
- 13 of the 14 children identified and invited for SHiFT support are actively working with their Guide;
- Of the 13 children working with their Guide, nine were on a care pathway when they started with SHiFT. Services have stepped down in relation to three of these nine children – two stepping down from Child in Need to no care status and one stepping down from being in the care of the Local Authority (s.20) to a Child Protection plan.
- 10 children had missing episodes in the 12 months prior to working with SHiFT. Only two children had reported missing episodes in the most recent reporting period (January to March 2023).
- 11 out of the 14 children have committed no proven offences since working with their SHiFT Guide.
SHiFT Bexley was launched on 30 November 2022. Councillor Philip Read, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, spoke enthusiastically about the impact SHiFT would make in Bexley alongside Dez Holmes, of Research in Practice, who incited ambitious radical thinking and action to improve outcomes for children caught in cycles of crime and exploitation.
In November 2022, SHiFT Bexley welcomed Juliette and Harriet from the Children's Commissioner's Office to share insights into SHiFT's work to date and explore how it relates to the work and priorities of the Children's Commissioner. A strong shared commitment to systemic and relational practice emerged, emulating and strengthening family.
Meet the Team
Clare McDermott joined Bexley as the Practice Co-ordinator in July 2022. Clare previously worked in London for 10 years as a commercial legal secretary and then spent time living in Kuwait and Singapore. She is enjoying working in an environment which is making a real difference to the lives of young people. Outside of work Clare has 4 daughters.
Celine Oikeh started as a guide at the Bexley practice in July 2022. Celine has a degree in Criminology, Criminal Justice with Psychology, which is where she found her passion for working with young people. She has gained substantial experience from working within schools, residential care, Targeted Youth Support and the Youth Justice System. Celine completed her Youth Justice Effective Practice Certificate in June 2023.
Celine loves using unconventional ways to engage and go above and beyond for young people. When she is not working, she enjoys spending her time in the kitchen cooking and baking or making memories with friends and family.