Posts by Louise Elliott
Helping local children Back to School
Everything we do, we do for the children. We want everyone to have the same opportunities to learn.
— Lynn Williams, Head Teacher
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We talked to Lynn Williams, Head of Chandlers Field Primary School, about some of the challenges local families are facing since Covid-19, and why more children than ever need help with basics like school uniforms.

Q. Each year Walton Charity gives funding to schools across Elmbridge to support low-income families with school-related costs. How does this funding help pupils and families at your school?

We believe that everyone at our school should have the same opportunity to learn. The funding from Walton Charity enables children to take part in activities and trips that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. For example, each year we are able to offer funding, giving some children the chance to take part in a residential trip that they would have otherwise missed out on.

We are also able help a lot of families with everyday essentials like school uniforms and school shoes that they simply can’t afford. As a school we try to keep uniform cost down by selling iron-on badges rather than branded uniforms and offering a Uniform Exchange but there are still lots of families who need help.

Clothing, school shoes, pens and pencils are things that people often take for granted but can make a real difference to how children feel about going to school. Children just want to feel the same as everyone else. We don’t want anyone to feel different.

Q. What other kind of support do you offer to local families?

Everything we do, we do for the children. And many of the ideas for initiatives at the school come from the children themselves. Our Uniform Exchange not only helps families to access free uniform, it also encourages recycling and cuts down on waste which is important to our school.

This year, for the first time, we are introducing a gift of a stationery pack for children who are not able to get their own pens and pencils. It’s something we haven’t needed to do before.

During the Covid lockdowns and the school holidays we were also able to help with food for our families. There was often a delay between families registering for the government food box scheme and receiving supplies, so we stepped in and made sure families had food. We also helped with internet access and computers to support home schooling and opened the school to some of our most vulnerable children.

Q. Have you noticed an increase in demand for support since Covid hit last year?

There were families who were struggling before the pandemic so I wouldn’t say the demand is worse, but it is definitely more widespread. During the first lockdown we started to hear from (and about) families who have never needed help before. Our Family Support Worker has had to be proactive because many families who were struggling were reluctant (or didn’t know how) to ask for help.

Lockdown had a significant impact on lots of local families emotionally and financially. People lost their jobs or weren’t eligible for the furlough scheme. Some faced housing issues, and many struggled to cover the increased cost of being at home - especially the food and utility bills. We have helped a lot of families this year with back-to-school costs and expect to see the effects of lockdown and the pandemic, on some families, for at least another year.

Q. People are often surprised to hear that more than 12% of children across Elmbridge are living in poverty (according to End Child Poverty data). What is your experience of local poverty as a headteacher?

It’s worth remembering that the 12% is an average across the borough, there are some pockets within Elmbridge where poverty rates are much higher. A very high percentage of children at our school are eligible for Pupil Premium support and free school meals. It’s not what a lot of people would expect in Surrey.

Although we get Pupil Premium funding from the government to support the most vulnerable children at our school, there is a whole band of children who don’t quite meet the criteria but who need support. Funding from Walton Charity helps us to plug this gap and make sure no one at our school is left behind.

A child’s experience at primary school is paramount to their future. It sets them on a successful learning journey. We want to do everything we can to make sure it is a positive experience.

Last year Walton Charity gave Opportunities Funds to 11 local schools. We also funded catch up programmes, online learning and extra computers at schools across Elmbridge . Through our Back to School Appeal, we are helping more local children have a great start back to school this year.

Louise ElliottComment
The KT One Two Football Project Kicks Off Again
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We are pleased to be able to continue supporting a local football project for a further year, enabling them to offer free-of-charge football sessions on a weekly basis.

The KT One Two project, professionally coached by Elite Sporting Provision, is delivered three times a week from
Walton Oak School in Ambleside Avenue, Walton. The sessions are aimed at children who live in St Johns, Field Common, Longmore, and Vicarage Fields estates and supports up to 60 children from 6 to 14 years of age.

The project is particularly aimed at children who may miss out on the chance to engage in social and sporting programmes during their junior years. It provides the opportunity to learn skills, build confidence, make social connections, as well as improving physical, mental, and social well-being.

One parent said “I have three boys that attend the football sessions with Adam and Mark. Two of them go on Monday and the other on Tuesday. We can’t afford to send the boys to football clubs …………. The sessions are the highlight of the boy’s week and ask all the time if it’s on next week! They say the best bit is to be with their ‘football friends’ even if it’s raining!”

Louise ElliottComment
GASP Hits the Road at Three Local Schools
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We are delighted to continue our support for GASP, a Surrey based charity that teaches young people practical motor mechanics, by re-engaging and supporting them to a pathway of training, apprenticeships, and employment.

Working with a low ratio of students to staff, our grant of £13,200 will enable GASP to deliver their accredited Early Intervention Motor Mechanics course to three local schools, including Three Rivers Academy and North East Surrey Short Stay School.

The courses use motor mechanics as a motivator and provide an educational refuge to young people who have become disengaged with classroom learning in a mainstream setting for a range of reasons. GASP’s qualified engineers adapt their sessions according to the abilities and interests of the students and these young people often discover that they ‘can do’ and their self-esteem and concentration soars. In addition to learning practical skills and academic learning, the development of soft skills will shape how these young people work with others.

Three Rivers Academy said of a past attendee “I can think of a student that the course significantly impacted. It was the first time that he had fully engaged in something in school and was in school on time, the day the course was on. After he had completed the course he asked if the school could look into getting him onto a part-time mechanics course at Brooklands. The course had given him an opportunity to shine at something he enjoyed, and he felt confident and competent in it. It highlighted to him that he was much better at the practical side of things and his eagerness to learn and get on was rarely seen in school.”

Home-Cooked Meals for Young Carers is a Recipe for Success

Since starting in September 2020, local charity, Cook4Care, has cooked and delivered 1,680 fresh, healthy and nutritious meals to 16 families in Elmbridge referred to them by Action for Young Carers (Surrey), but there are many more families who would welcome their help.

Our recently awarded Community Grant of £4,000 will help Cook4Care reach more young carers and their families across Elmbridge.

Young carers spend significant time caring for a relative and the Coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased those pressures. The Children’s Society estimates there are approximately 800,000 young carers in the UK, with 140,000 in Surrey alone, many as young as 5 or 6 years old.

Cook4Care makes deliveries to each family twice a week and has saved young carers nearly 4000 hours of cooking and shopping since they started. The families they deliver to have 35 young carers and this service has given those young carers more time for their studies and allowed them time to enjoy quality time with their friends and family. One family fed back:

“Really, I want to say thank you and give each of you a big hug, as what you have done for our family is priceless. You have given us hope and motivation, just at a point where we were wondering what the future would hold.”

Cook4Care relies on volunteers to deliver their vital service and their planned expansion means they are looking for more people to get involved. If you would like to help with cooking, or delivering prepared meals to homes, email

£100k Boost for Local Families from Barclays

We have been able to provide vital support to more Elmbridge families, thanks to a generous donation from the Barclays 100x100 UK Covid-19 Community Relief Fund.

Barclays invited UK charities to apply for one of 100 donations of £100,000, to help communities deal with the unprecedented social and economic crisis caused by Covid-19, and Walton Charity was chosen as one of the 100 UK charities best placed to provide this support to our Elmbridge community.

Even before the pandemic, low-income households in Elmbridge were struggling to make ends meet and multiple lockdowns plunged many more local families into crisis. By working with our extensive network of trusted local organisations and schools, we have been able to respond quickly to provide support where it is needed most.

The funding from Barclays has made a huge difference to our ability to respond quickly to our community during the pandemic and support more people when they were most in need. We are here to help and Elmbridge-based organisations and schools are encouraged to get in touch with us to find out more.
— Jackie Lodge, Chief Executive, Walton Charity

Thanks to this funding we’ve already been able to award over 60 grants to Elmbridge families for food and essential items, and fund counselling sessions for vulnerable children affected by Covid-19.

Whilst the lockdowns have affected us all, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the youngest people in our community, with disruption to their education and social lives. We have also been able to use the Barclays funding to support young people through catch up interventions at a local primary school and mental health support for local teenagers.

Nigel Higgins, Barclays Group Chairman, said: “COVID-19 has created an unprecedented social and economic impact in the UK, with many sadly experiencing greater hardship due to the crisis. Incredible organisations, such as Walton Charity have been playing a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic, ensuring urgent help reaches those most in need of support. As a bank, we have been doing all we can for our customers, clients and colleagues, and we hope that our 100x100 programme and wider community aid package helps ensure that everybody in the communities in which we live and work is supported through this crisis.”

Louise ElliottComment
Collecting Memories of Lockdown Life

To mark the one-year anniversary of the first national lockdown, Walton Charity is creating a time capsule to help future generations understand more about life during Covid-19.

The time capsule, to be buried in the gardens of Mayfield, one of our sheltered housing properties, will include a collection of items that symbolise lockdown life including hand-crafted rainbows, face masks, PPE and – of course – toilet rolls!

Our sheltered housing residents and volunteers from our Community Allotment have contributed recipes, letters and poems reflecting on their life during 2020.

As well as creating a historical record of what it was like to live and work during a national lockdown, the project will also capture the ways Walton Charity and its partners have been supporting the local community during the pandemic.

Louise ElliottComment
Helping to Solve the Parenting Puzzle
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As part of our commitment to supporting children and young people in Elmbridge, we were delighted to award a Community Grant of over £22,000 to The Wellbeing Supervisor, who will deliver ‘Parenting Puzzle’ courses to benefit 120 parents or carers and 240 Elmbridge children over a three-year period.

Parenting Puzzle is a supportive, non-judgmental programme consisting of 10 two-hour sessions for parents or carers, packed with a variety of activities and strategies designed to boost parents’ confidence.

The use of peer-to-peer support means parents and carers work together to support each other and their children. It provides participants with techniques to manage challenging behaviour and improve communication, enabling them to build a stronger relationship with their children.

Michelle Tucker has been running the programme for more than 10 years and has boosted the health and wellbeing of many local families. One family described the programme as “life changing.”

Thank you for the fabulous course you provided, it was really enlightening. The ambiance was so comfortable and natural, I felt totally at home. It’s a comfort to know that so many if not all parents are having similar struggles.
— A local parent
Louise ElliottComment
Filling the Skills Gap in the Construction Industry

We’ve provided a Community Grant of £5,000 to SATRO, enabling their highly trained and experienced tutors to give hands on practical construction skills to students attending North East Surrey Short Stay School (NESSSS), a Pupil Referral Unit in Hersham.

SATRO has been working with NESSSS since 2016 and the Mobile Construction Classroom has proved highly popular with students of all abilities but is especially impactful to those whose abilities are often more suited to vocational, rather than academic studies. Central to the programme is the opportunity to give every young person the opportunity to learn about the breadth of the construction industry, the careers it offers and the practical skills that are at its core.

The change in these young people is profound. Their newly acquired skills and talent for the varied practical projects, particularly in Carpentry and Joinery, is only superseded by their enthusiasm!
— SATRO's Tutor

Whilst SATRO currently work with over 26 schools including mainstream, alternative provision, pupil referral units and SEN schools, the courses are not funded through statutory sources. They employ qualified teachers, with experience in the industry, who they have chosen to work with the students to inspire the next generation in construction. The tutors adopt teaching styles based on each student’s individual needs. For some students, this will enable them to gain their BTEC Level 1 qualification which will support entry to college or the workplace, for others this may be practical life skills for volunteering or independent living opportunities.

Niki Razey, Leader for Engagement and Pastoral Care at NESSSS, says: “Thank you so much Walton Charity for supporting these students at such a vital time in their lives. The SATRO Construction Programme gives them the skills, confidence and knowledge to apply for jobs and secure college places. Without the course, the outcome for these students could be very different.”

Louise ElliottComment
Helping to Close the Education Gap in Local Schools
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A Community Grant of almost £5,000 will help Walton Oak Primary School provide the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) programme for children in Reception (aged 4-5 years) who are at risk falling behind because of the recent school closures.

Research has shown that breaks in learning, like the annual summer holiday, can create a ‘learning gap’, particularly among disadvantaged children. Without interventions like this, the learning gap is expected to widen as schools close for a second time.

The extra costs associated with the Coronavirus pandemic – like additional cleaning and covering staff absences – are already putting pressure on school finances. High quality 1-1 and small group tuition is known to be an effective model in accelerating learning, but it is also an expensive one, meaning that many schools are having to make difficult decisions about which children are invited to participate.

By funding sessions that are tailored to each child’s needs, this grant will support children beginning their school journey to develop crucial oral language skills and promote longer term progress in reading comprehension.

Dan Sonley, headteacher of Walton Oak Primary School says: “We are mindful that oral language skills play a significant role in almost all aspects of learning and, particularly, in learning to read.  The NELI programme will significantly accelerate the development of vocabulary, narrative skills, active listening and phonological awareness in some of our most vulnerable pupils and help them gain deeper access to learning opportunities and support them to feel successful in school.  We are so grateful for the Walton Charity grant; for those taking part in the NELI, it will have a profound and lasting impact on their school experience.”

Louise ElliottComment
Bringing CHEER to Retired People in Elmbridge

We are delighted to offer a small grant to help local charity, CHEER, upgrade their outdated IT system, enabling staff to lay the foundations for expanding their befriending service.

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CHEER has been supporting retired people in Elmbridge for over 65 years with free advice, guidance and support.  Their popular befriending service normally includes visits to people’s homes and social events but, due to Covid-19 restrictions, this hasn’t been possible.  Instead, CHEER have been reaching out to their clients by telephone and providing a lifeline to older people struggling with social isolation.

Older people are among the hardest hit during the current pandemic. The effects of lockdown and lack of social interaction is increasing loneliness and recent research has highlighted the impact the crisis is having on older people’s mental health.

Julian Mobbs, newly appointed Chairman of Trustees for CHEER, said: “We are delighted that Walton Charity is supporting our work in this way.   CHEER has had to operate very differently during the COVID pandemic with our staff team working from home.  This, and the increased need for our services, has put extra pressure on our IT infrastructure.  The grant will enable us to update our systems so that the team can provide CHEER’s much needed services more effectively.”

Louise ElliottComment
Keeping our Sheltered Residents Connected

We believe loneliness shouldn’t be a natural consequence of getting older so during recent months, when many of our sheltered accommodation residents have been shielding or in lockdown, we have been working hard to make sure they feel safe, supported and connected.

Through a programme of virtual events and activities, our residents have been able to keep in touch with staff and each other, learn new skills and try their hand at new activities.

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From virtual tours of Wisley, to Meccano craft kits, meditation and movie nights, our residents have had their pick of regular activities. They have also been receiving special food deliveries, including fish and chip lunches, afternoon tea, festive hampers, and Christmas dinner delivered to their door.

Our online activities will continue into the Spring along with essential support like shopping, prescription collection and transport to medical appointments.

Thank you for all the excellent extras we have received recently in these very difficult times ie activity packs, Veganuary pack, Christmas lunches, and fish & chip lunches, all gratefully received, and all excellent quality.
— From resident of Fenner House
Louise ElliottComment
Friendship and Fellowship During Lockdown

When colder weather and tighter Covid restrictions brought our Community Allotment outdoor sessions to an early close last October, we moved the meetings online.

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Managed by Karen Heynike, our Land and Estates Manager, the weekly sessions give participants an opportunity to learn new skills and take part in group activities, helping them to stay connected and feel less isolated, particularly during the current lockdown. One participant said, “I have really enjoyed the fellowship and friendship” and another said, “I have enjoyed every single part of the project enormously.”

The twice-weekly online sessions include activities ranging from Pilates to card-making, bulb planting and even virtual mince pie tasting. Participants receive activity packs, meal-making kits and links to interesting podcasts, online talks and articles to enjoy between sessions, with many of the resources donated by local businesses like Woodlarks Nurseries.

Feedback from the participants has been really positive, with many valuing the opportunity to feel part of the community, socialise with like-minded people and maintain friendships while staying at home.

Louise ElliottComment