Mark Anderson is the new Head of Centre at Red Balloon Norwich, a charity which offers safe and specialist schooling for young people. Here, he explains his vision for the future
Red Balloon Norwich, based on Drayton Road, has provided education for hundreds of young people aged between 11 and 17 since opening in the city 14 years ago. Earlier this month, the vital Norwich based charity which offers safe and specialist schooling for young people, welcomed onboard new Head of Centre, Mark Anderson, who has been busy over the past few weeks preparing students and staff for the autumn term.
Mr Anderson, who has 15 years of experience working with vulnerable young people with complex learning difficulties across three other charities, most recently Future Projects in Norwich, says: ‘I am looking forward to leading a fantastic group of young people and staff to start the new academic year at Red Balloon Norwich. I am excited by the challenge and look forward to being adaptive to help more young people in Norwich through our unique nurturing offer.’
Commenting on the appointment, Emma Culley, the charity’s acting chair, says: ‘We are delighted to welcome Mark onboard. He has vast experience of working with vulnerable young people, on the frontline and as a member of leadership teams.
‘We are excited about his vision for Red Balloon Norwich and his plans to further improve the vital service we offer to young people who can no longer attend mainstream school.’
Red Balloon Norwich provides a safe and supportive learning environment for up to 40 young people from Norfolk and surrounding counties.
The centre is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3:30pm during term time, and students attend full-time or start on a reduced timetable depending on their needs and abilities.
Mr Anderson said he has a vision to ensure all young people who access the Red Balloon Norwich Learning Centre can re-connect with the education system through a range of character and career enriching opportunities which place wellbeing at their core.
He adds: ‘One of the first things a young person needs when they join Red Balloon Norwich is to build their confidence and to address their barriers to learning so they can thrive in their new education environment.
‘The young people who we support have often experienced difficulties accessing learning in mainstream education, have significant trauma and are low in confidence. Our highly experienced staff offer small class sizes, counselling interventions and coping strategies to help students recover.
‘The timetable and curriculum offer a unique blend of wellbeing, vocational and academic interventions where students can choose subjects such as construction, arts award, health and social care, animal care and hair and beauty alongside their core subjects to develop a range of life management skills to prepare for adult life.
‘Our onsite wellbeing listening service delivered by a qualified counsellor also provides an invaluable service for many learners who have been on waiting lists for CAMHS intervention for over 18 months.’
To help more young people from September the centre is introducing a much-needed outreach project to help students unable to access the centre straight away. To find out more about the charity and its work visit redballoonlearner.org/locations/red-balloon-norwich/