WHO WE ARE
We are a youth charity working to improve the lives of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive and succeed in their relationships with themselves, their peers, family, and communities, and in school, college, training or work.
Refocus was established in 1973 to address the needs of BME adults in and around Reading involved in the criminal justice system. In 1995 we became a registered charity and our focus turned towards prevention and working with socially-excluded children and young people.
Our work addresses BME children and young people’s poverty, poor educational attainment, their risk and involvement in crime, and the accompanying attitudes and behaviours that exist and acts as barriers to their engagement and achievement in education, training and work.
In 2000 With Youth Justice Board and National Lottery funding we piloted and ran our first mentoring project in partnership with the newly established Youth Offending Team and Reading Borough Council’s Youth and Education Services. Recognising that mentoring was more effective when the family, and communities, were also involved, we developed ‘plus tools’ e.g. group work, drop-in surgeries, learning opportunities, accelerated, informal education, social learning, community give-back, and intergenerational work.
In the last few years we have worked on a project by project basis delivering innovative projects and activities that have brought children and young people, their families and communities together. For 2014-2017 we focussed on the Dee Park Estate for 8-12 year olds, in partnership with Catalyst Housing Ltd (as part of their regeneration legacy), running a youth club and out of school activities. For young people (14-18) years we delivered projects across Reading with RBC Youth Service & Decent Neighbourhood Fund, Norcot Community Association, South Sudanese Community Association, Real Time, and Culturemix Arts.
As hard as it gets Reading Refocus will strive to ensure that young people become positive role models for themselves and others.
To be an engine of empowerment for young people.
Our values are based on our aspirations for young people we believe they have the right to:
be content, feel worthy, want better for themselves
have access to opportunities, understand the importance of being positive, live sustainable lifestyles, have the poential to progress and make changes
get the opportunity to have good experiences so they can make informed life choices
have a broad range of experiences, learn how to enjoy life and share it with others
have positive futures, realise they can rise above their personal circumstances
young people are the dawn of our tomorrow
THEORY OF CHANGE
We believe that by giving children and young people diverse and constructive learning experiences through high quality mentoring relationships with caring adults they will understand the importance of having a sustainable lifestyle, gain the ability to make informed choices and rise above their circumstances.
What makes Refocus effective is our belief in the young people we work with no matter their background or circumstances. We do not expect them to become perfect, we expect them to become better. We know through our longstanding work (and our knowledge and experience of the psychological and social dynamics that often prevails) when a young person has someone in their corner, someone who believes in them, they thrive. Our definition of mentoring is being a friend with a purpose. Here are two responses to our unique approach:
“….. you don’t work with us like workers you treat us as family.”
“You give us permission for our light to shine.”