Advice and experience
What is the Atkinson Secure Children’s Home?
The Atkinson is a secure children’s home for up to 12 young people aged 10-17. A secure children’s home is one that you cannot leave when you want to.
Why have I got to live in a secure home?
You will have been sent here because a court or social care services have decided that it is the best and safest place for you to be. This may be because they think that you are extremely vulnerable and may be a risk to yourself or to others.
What happens when I get here?
When you first get here you will need to go through the admission process and answer some questions about yourself. Our staff will then show you to your room and show you around the rest of the Home, introduce you to other young people staying here and get you something to eat and drink. Within the first day of your stay you will need to have a ‘medical’. This is just an appointment with a nurse to make sure that you are fit and well.
What happens after that?
You will join in the Home’s daily routine. In the mornings you will get up, tidy your room, shower and have breakfast before starting school at 9am. Once a week we have an assembly to pass on important news and recognise young people’s achievements. In the morning you will have lessons in the Atkinson School, followed by lunch and then afternoon lessons. After dinner you will have time to do homework and get involved in some of the sports and activities available within the home.
What is the Atkinson School?
Whilst here you will attend our own school. In the Atkinson School we believe that through learning you can develop self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth to help you move forward with your life. We want to help you to develop a love of learning and ability to recognise your own talents and potential. You will be supported by your own individual tutor.
When you arrive we will arrange a meeting with you, your tutor and your key worker to set targets and review your progress. The school day is structured in a similar way to other schools and our curriculum includes core subjects, vocational subjects and personal, social development. We can work with you no matter what level you are currently at and can support you to achieve qualifications which can help you after you leave the Home.
We know that some of you will have had bad experiences at school and feel that you can’t achieve. Atkinson School is a chance for you to have a fresh start and get the support you need to reach your potential.
Who can I talk to?
When you come to the Atkinson you will have a personal team to look after you. This team includes:
- a keyworker
- a personal tutor
- a case manager from our management team
Your key worker will work closely with you, your family and your social worker. They will make sure that you are involved in any plans. They will answer any questions you have and will help you prepare to move on when it’s time for you leave the Home. Your case manager will keep an eye on you and make sure that things are happening as they should. All our staff have a lot of training and experience in working with young people with a range of issues from all sorts of backgrounds. We can arrange for ministers from any religion to come and visit. We also have a representative from Voice, an organisation which helps young people in care, who you can talk to if you have a complaint, or just want to talk to someone outside the Home.
Can I have visitors?
Yes. We know that it is important for you to stay in touch with your friends and family. You can have visitors from 4pm-8pm on school days and between 9am-8pm on weekends and in the holidays. All visits have to be booked in advance and we will give your parents/ carers a leaflet about visiting the Home when you arrive here. Visitors, such as your family, may want to bring you pocket money and presents. We will need to check any presents and parcels to make sure you aren’t being given anything harmful or illegal. We will look after any pocket money for you to make sure it is kept safe.
You can have two visitors at any one time. Any visitors under 18 must be accompanied by someone older. Visits usually last one hour. If there is someone you don’t want to see please tell your key worker. If you are concerned about seeing someone, let us know and a member of staff can support you.
Can I phone my family?
Yes. You will receive a £10 phone card each week. You can make calls from 4pm- 8.30pm on school days and between 9am-8.30pm on weekends and in the holidays. You can phone your parents/carer, your social worker or your youth offending worker at any time from our office phone, but you must ask permission first. Your family and your social worker can phone you on this line, and they will be given the number when you come to stay at the Home. We don’t allow any mobile phones in the home.
Can I smoke?
The home is a no smoking site to make it a healthy and enjoyable place for everyone who lives and works here.
Do I have to go to bed at a certain time?
Yes. Bedtimes start from 9pm, but the time you go to bed depends on your age.
What choice of food do we get?
We give you a choice of menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. We also have a tuck shop where you can use your pocket money to buy yourself treats. Hot and cold drinks are available all day. Tell us if you have any special dietary needs and we will try to meet them.
What happens if I want to see a doctor?
We will arrange for a doctor to come and see you at the Home.
What stuff can I have in my room?
Your room is your personal space; you can put up pictures and posters if you want to and you will be expected to keep it clean and tidy. TVs and stereos are provided in rooms if we believe that you can look after them properly. If they are damaged they will not be replaced, and you will have to pay towards the repairs. Occasionally we will search your bedroom. We will do this as quickly as possible and keep your things safe. We will also search your room if we believe you have dangerous or forbidden items in there.
What happens when I want new clothes or a deodorant or when I need a haircut?
You will be able to buy a certain amount of new clothes when you need them. If you’re not able to leave the Home you can tell a member of staff what you need and they will purchase the items for you. Remember that clothes have to be suitable – revealing outfits are not appropriate in the Home! You will also have a monthly allowance to get the toiletries you need. A hairdresser visits the Home regularly. If you want a very dramatic change of hairstyle or hair colour, this will have to be agreed beforehand by your parents and/or social worker. If it is expensive you will have to pay towards it from your pocket money.
What do I do if someone is bullying me?
We don’t want anyone to feel bullied in the Home and will make sure you feel safe and supported. If you feel that you are being bullied talk to someone you trust about it as soon as possible. We use a method called ‘restorative interventions’ to let bullies see how hurtful their behaviour is.
Do you restrain young people?
Yes we do but only in a very few circumstances. Staff spend a lot of time talking to young people to try and prevent restraints occurring in the first place. We only restrain to prevent you hurting yourself or someone else, or to prevent you damaging property or trying to escape. All staff receive training to ensure that they use holds that are designed to be safe and prevent young people from getting hurt.
How do I complain about something in Atkinson?
If there is something you are unhappy about you should first talk to your key worker or case manager and ask them to look into it. You can also ask for it to be put into our complaints book so a team leader or manager can see it.
If this doesn’t solve the problem you can:
- Ask your social worker to look into it for you
- Speak to your Independent Reviewing Officer (your key worker or social worker can get you their number)
- Call the Devon County Council customer service team on 0345 155 1078.
- Children’s Commissioner website
- Contributions from children who are in or have experience of the child protection system
Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies.