Thursday, 11 August 2022

New children's home fitting well into village, says manager

THE manager of a children’s home in Sonning Common says it has become part of the community in the year since it opened.

Amber Burns, who runs Florence House, said the children at the home were happy living in the village.

When Calcot Services for Children, from Theale, announced plans for the home in February 2016 some residents expressed concern, saying the village was not suitable.

But Ms Burns told a meeting of Sonning Common Parish Council that the home and children were now integrated.

She said: “We have been in Sonning Common more than a year now and I know there were some concerns when we opened. I’ve come along to show my face, answer any questions and pass on my contact details.”

Ms Burns said the home was working with the Abbeycrest care home in Essex Way and Springwater Church in Blounts Court Road.

She said: “The children we look after may have emotional or behavioural needs and need a more therapeutic environment, which we are able to provide.

“We have spaces for five young people but we usually have three or four at a time. 

“Currently we have three people and one of them does not speak at all. The children are taking cakes up to the care home and we would love to do more things like that — anything to help with the community we are keen to do.

“Two of the children used to go to the village youth club and loved it. Our current children are a bit old for it.”

Ms Burns said she had regular meetings with neighbours and the police to ensure they were happy.

She said: “This is not a case of these being naughty children — one these young people wants to be a police officer.

“They aren’t off smoking cannabis. If they were I would drag them to the police station myself. No criminal activity is tolerated.”

Councillor John Stoves responded: “I regularly walk past the home and I have never heard or seen anything to give me any cause for concern.”

Calcot Services for Children  runs six other homes in Berkshire and Hampshire, looking after children aged five to 18.

The teenagers at Florence House attend Gillotts School in Henley. They are unable to attend Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common as it is currently in special measures after being rated “inadequate” by Ofsted.

Councillors are to be given a tour of the home.

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