Interview - Dr Sharon Curtis, manager of Ellesmere Children’s Centre, Sheffield

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The Children’s Centre has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund support for a new centre for children with emotional and behavioural needs

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Dr Sharon Curtis

WHY DID YOU BUILD THE NEW CENTRE?

Emosi (which means ‘emotions’ in several languages) is a purpose-built, transcultural therapeutic centre completed in April and designed to extend the services of Ellesmere Children’s Centre (ECC). The ECC, which is rated Outstanding, has been providing pre-school care and education for children and families for over 23 years. It serves parts of Sheffield that have some of the highest rates of deprivation in England.

Over the years, we have seen a marked increase in children presenting with special educational needs alongside a widespread deterioration in social and emotional well-being. Wider support for families and for educational settings was also diminishing at a time when our community was taking in more families from parts of the world where trauma has been heightened. Due to financial prudence, we were able to renovate the once-caretaker’s house and grounds to provide a tranquil and specialised play space for children to feel, speak and heal.

WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU HOPE TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE FROM THE EMOSI CENTRE?

We will provide support for children aged two to 12, from all walks of life, communities and cultures. We aim to support children struggling to engage with their families, schools, or the wider community, due to emotional challenges over which they have no control. We recognise that emotions are natural and normal and are not always a matter of choice but at times can be influenced or triggered. We want children to become resilient in dealing with their emotions from an early stage. Our aim is to build trusting, empathic relationships that are respectful of varying cultural norms and values. We want to reinforce children’s identities with transcultural approaches.

We are reaching out to businesses asking them to provide support by becoming an Emosi Champion and pledging support for the campaign.

WHAT WILL MONEY FROM CROWDFUNDING BE USED FOR?

We are looking for filial therapists who support the benefits of play within the family structure. We recognise that play within cultures can be perceived differently, but this engagement is about face-to-face contact, improved communication and about a space that is safe, calm, and therapeutic. We will work with play therapists, speech therapists and those who support children with mild or moderate spectrum disorder. We want to support parents to understand their feelings and facilitate direct parent involvement.

WHY DID YOU GO DOWN THE CROWDFUNDING ROUTE?

As an established charity, we have invested our small reserves into establishing this very new provision. We want the general public, practitioners and funding bodies to get behind this campaign and become aware of the need for our services. We also feel that the rapid increase of issues surrounding children’s and adult’s social and emotional well-being is now touching every family in some way. We want our children to know that there is a safe place where they are valued.

We have a six-month timeframe for raising £60,000. We aim to prove this service works and then apply for funding to roll it out across Sheffield. We believe so strongly in providing this service that ECC has invested a substantial amount of its reserves.

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