News & thoughts

All our dreams can come true…

Eight years ago, Laurence Field approached me to give a pilot 4 week introductory crash course in Beauty Therapy and Hairdressing to a small group of young people. I instantly saw a spark in these girls, and saw they needed a holding hand to help them shine and navigate their way through school education and life. Today, I am writing this, having just completed the end of our first term at the new independent gateways charity, at our brand new home.

Walt Disney said; “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Reflecting on these past 8 years, it is mind blowing to comprehend how every Hair & Beauty student left my course with not only a distinction qualification but also with friendships. These are young people, some were ‘school refusers’ and all arrived onto my course with zero confidence and a ‘can’t do it’ mantra. We were doing something magical at gateways, we were in demand and it was a huge and brave step for us to become independent from our earlier years as a JW3 project and move into our own building, with dreams to fill the demand of more places needed, for young people missing out on mainstream education. A very exciting prospect but I did have concerns. One of my main concerns was that I did not want it to run and feel like a traditional typical school and loose that special way we worked together as a small team.

These past 14 weeks have been an incredible journey, watching how the whole building has come alive week by week. As soon as you walk into gateways you can feel the positive and relaxed atmosphere through the site and a place of ‘belonging’ for staff and students. Having these walls of ‘belonging’ and sense of acceptance and safety is priceless for our young people, a feeling we never had the opportunity to create in the past.

This has benefitted our students like never before, even half way into the term, students were chilling in different zones around gateways newly designed home and they now have the opportunity to make connections with other students that are not on their course. It is so beautiful to see their personalities developing and hearing them chatting and laughing together. This building is like gold for us at gateways and every corner of every room has been carefully designed to create this incredible buzzing, nurturing and empowering vibe.

What has been lovely this term for my students, is that since we have our own allocated Hair & Beauty room, we have started displaying students work. Since most of the girls struggle with low confidence, when they look back at their work from previous weeks, they cannot believe what they created. Seeing their displays, is a huge boost for them and seeing reactions from staff is also invaluable and provides the added encouragement our students so desperately need. There is something very magical and special happening in our Hair & Beauty corner.

I would just like to add, that I am humbled by the new staff that have joined this term, and how everyone is so thoughtful of each other, kind and respectful, ultimately creating the most wonderful facility for staff and students alike. I am excited to see where the next term takes gateways, and well done to everyone for a fantastic start!