Beyond the Gates: An initiative of St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead and CatholicCare

Most young people and their families experience times when things are not panning out as they had hoped. All families and individuals have times when help is needed to navigate some turbulence that may have appeared on the horizon. Turbulence can creep in slowly, unnoticed and certainly uninvited. Or it can arrive like a bolt of lightning – out of the blue, unannounced and potentially destructive.

Adolescence is a time of massive change and development for young people. One of the primary developmental tasks of the adolescent is to move towards independence.  This can be painful for both the young person moving in this direction and the parents/carers experiencing this movement.

The Beyond the Gates Project is a collaboration between St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead, and CatholicCare Social Services. The trial project aims to improve student wellbeing by working with families and students in their homes and also in the communities that make up the school’s catchment areas. The project will run for one year and will be reviewed and assessed throughout that time.

The school currently provides a number of internal supports which meet the needs of many of the students. However, staff have identified students falling between the cracks of current systems, particularly when they step beyond the school gates

Beyond the Gates offers a very flexible model of support to students and families who have historically not engaged well with mainstream services. CatholicCare’s aim is to deliver a more responsive, inclusive and accessible style of support that may better suit the needs of marginalised families ‒families who have been doing it tough without a lot of support.

The objective of the project is to make a difference in the lives of students in the St Mary’s community. The Year Co-ordinators will make referrals to Beyond the Gates project worker, Lucy Karbowiak.

“I’ll be co-ordinating programs and involved in case management and co-ordination to see how we can best support the wellbeing of these young people,” said Lucy.

Ideally, this will be done after discussions with the student and his/her parents about what the project can offer. Lucy will then seek to contact parents/carers to seek consent to contact their child. If this proceeds Lucy will meet with the student to map out a plan of how best to provide support. This can include support to stay engaged with the school, the family, community and friends or to access information about a range of helpful resources.

“Our students live in incredibly complex times, probably more complex than any other generation before them. With this program, we’re able to support them to the highest level possible so they can grow into the best person they can be,” said Peter Antcliff, Assistant Principal of St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead.

“We’re incredibly excited for the program and we’re incredibly thankful for the co-operation of the Catholic Schools Office and CatholicCare. Lucy has been doing a great job and we can’t wait to see it grow bigger and better.

CatholicCare is very excited about this joint venture as we believe it fills a gap that appears in most communities. An extra hand is something we all need from time to time.

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Maryanne Kerrins

Maryanne Kerrins is CatholicCare's Operations Manager, Early Intervention.

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