The Society of St James Academy

SSJ will be launching the new Academy in 2024 to provide a full timetable of meaningful activity including sports, crafts, learning and employment pathways for individuals that we support who have a history of homelessness and other support needs.

In the meantime, our new Re-Set learning pathway will appear on our activity timetable next to the already popular Re-Fit (sports) and Pathways (volunteering and employment) programmes and together they will become ‘The Society of St James Academy’ offering a comprehensive timetable of meaningful activity, education, volunteering and employment. 

Why are we adding a Learning Pathway?

 If you were to imagine a life where you had very little power, did not have a voice and things happened to you, not with you – what would that feel like?

Eleanor Macleod.

Sadly, this quote succinctly describes the early life experiences of many vulnerable adults we work with here at SSJ. Many dealt with chronic parental conflict, substance misuse, child abuse and/or domestic abuse/violence in childhood.

It is hardly surprising therefore that as adults, these individuals feel completely disenfranchised from anything that resembles education, when, as children, the backdrop for these negative experiences was having to go to school every day, in a state of stress and anxiety, and face the consequences of their resulting poor behaviour.

In our experience, some of these adults have undiagnosed learning difficulties or behavioural conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Obsessive-compulsive Disorder that were likely apparent during childhood furthering their disenfranchisement of education.

Why is providing a learning pathway important to fulfilling SSJ’s purpose?

Clearly providing a roof over the head of someone who has been homeless is of primary importance however, to realise eventual independence we must provide a lot more support than just bricks and mortar.  They need the tools to grow their self-belief, self-esteem and the basic life skills necessary to help them to fulfil their potential, and to do this they need to be open to learning.

Many of our residents had poor experiences at school and have limited qualifications.  Some do not believe that they could gain qualifications, in spite of being reasonably intelligent.  We also know that expecting an adult to attend a college full of 16- and 17-year olds is not going to work.

What will the learning pathway deliver?

 Our new Re-Set project will offer a path for our learners, beginning with specific courses which can be completed in a matter of days, e.g. health and safety and food hygiene, to get people into the habit of learning and to prove it is possible. These can then lead on to other learning, with longer and more advanced courses such as basic literacy and numeracy.

The difference however is in the delivery.  Our tutors will use fun and interesting activities to engage people and will offer learning in an environment that feels safe and comfortable to them.  Learning will be at a pace dictated by the learner and it will be delivered in a manner that is sensitive to the often-chaotic lifestyles of the individuals we work with.

How can the community get involved?

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous philanthropist we are able to launch Re-set this year, ahead of our Academy launch.  After the first year however; we will need to raise around £85K per year to continue this pathway.  If supporting the homeless through education is something you are interested in; please consider setting up a regular donation:

A donation of just £15/month could support 1 hr of education per month for someone who has been homeless.  Download our standing order form here or donate directly to our Society of St James Re-set donation page here.

If you would like to follow the development of Re-set and the Academy launch in 2024 then please sign-up to our newsletter here

Read more about our education, health and wellbeing projects here.