KidsOut

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Navigant makes over a London refuge’s playroom

Date posted: 18 Apr 2016

“I think that refuge is one of those things that you know is there but don’t really understand what people go through,” said Rebecca Ellison. “When you visit it’s a real eye-opener. Of course anything for children is important, but lots of these children have nothing, and to with this playroom they can come, have fun and forget previous negative experiences. I think we were all really pleased to be able to help.”

On the 14th of April, 15 volunteers from Navigant’s London Office renovated the children’s playroom of aHestia refuge in East London. Used as temporary housing for women and children escaping domestic violence, the refuge shelters up to 14 families at a time with children of varying ages.

Part of Navigant’s global service week, the renovation project was one of many around the world that saw the company’s offices take a day to serve their local community.

Supporters of KidsOut for the past two and a half years, the London office chose to use their day to perform a DIY SOS on the playroom of a domestic violence refuge. “When we knew we had the chance for this service day we wanted to do it for KidsOut,” said Rebecca Ellison, Senior Marketing Coordinator for the Navigant London office. “We thought the DIY SOS would be a great opportunity to help a refuge. They are always at full capacity and really busy, so renovating a playroom is not necessarily something they could do otherwise.”

“The Navigant team was very lovely and enthusiastic about being here and getting involved,” said Jessica Scott, a support worker for the refuge. “They were very discreet about going into a building that was people’s home and really up for getting involved. There was one guy who I think was quite high up and was catching a flight in the afternoon, but he was there on his hands and knees cleaning children’s toys and getting stuck in.”

Splitting into two groups for the morning and afternoon, the team worked in the playroom and the adjoining garden. Having been damaged by a leak in June 2015, the room had been unusable by the children for the past ten months. “We just came in, gave it a lick of paint, put a jungle scene on the wall, had a good clean up and sorted out the toys,” said Ellison. “The team was very happy to give up their time for a worthy cause, and it was good to get out the office for a day and get to know each other better.”

The only communal space in the refuge, the playroom is the heart of activities for children and an important space for group workshops. “All of our families have domestic abuse background, and it can really affect the parent-child relationship in hundreds of ways,” said Scott. “That relationship needs rebuilding, and having a safe, clean and colourful space they can be together is important.”

Following the team’s work, the playroom is once again fully functional and open for children to have fun. “Play is so important in a child’s development,” said Scott. “The space will be used by the families a lot.”

“Our service week is really just about bettering the community and giving children a better shot at life,” said Ellison. “In the end it all leads up to that.”

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