In an Emergency….

Often emergencies in schools do happen. These may not be serious emergencies, but an emergency is an emergency! There are several different types of emergencies, from First Aid, fires, Utility emergencies, Lift emergencies, Security emergencies etc.

In an emergency, it is important to stay calm. A Pupil will always turn to the first member of staff he or she can find. This could be a Teacher, Care Staff, a Volunteer or even you, as a Caretaker. Keeping a cool head and remaining calm is important, no matter what the emergency is. It is also good to make sure that you know your School Emergency Procedures is important so you can assist as best you can.

One of the most important skills is First Aid. This can be lifesaving in the event of an emergency and is a skill that is universal and can be used at any time. I have First Aid at Work, (Which is a comprehensive First Aid Qualification, covering most First Aid situations. I am also AED Trained, which means I can use a Defibrillator, in the event of a Cardiac Arrest. I have never had to use an AED in a real situation, but you never know. On top of this, I am Mental Health First Aid Trained, to help people who are in Mental Health Crisis.

You may have other qualifications and skills, which can be handy in an emergency. For instance, are you able to use BSL, to communicate with someone that is hard of hearing? Or can you speak a 2nd language? (which may be helpful)

The first thing I do is use the AMEC Protocol. This stands for Assess, Make Safe, Evacuate the immediate area and Call For Help. So lets look at this in more detail.

Assess the Situation

The first thing to do is assess the emergency. What has happened?, How many people are involved? What’s the risk to life, the safety of others and what immediate action needs to be taken to mitigate the situation?

Make Safe

The situation may require making safe, to protect yourself and others. Such instances may include:

  • Sounding the Fire Alarm to alert others to a fire
  • Moving Staff, Visitors and Young People away from the emergency
  • Switching off a Utility, such as the power, the water or the gas
  • Extinguish a fire (if safe to do so) using a fire extinguisher.
  • In the event of a Swimming Pool emergency, giving 3 sharp blows on a whistle, to signal swimmers to move to the side of the pool
  • On equipment, operate the Red Emergency Stop Plunger

Evacuate the Immediate Area

Evacuating may be needed, if the emergency is serious and there is risk to life. This may mean moving people to another part of the building or to an Assembly Point outside, as appropriate. You should do this calmly and using a raised voice, use something along the lines of:

“May I have your attention please, I need you to quickly, calmly and quietly leave the building, via the nearest exit and proceed to the playground. Please do not stop for belongings. If you need assistance with leaving the building, please contact the nearest member of staff.”

When evacuating, the whole building, it is common practice to activate the Fire Alarm, by breaking the glass on the nearest Red Call Point. If needed, you should also operate the Emergency Egress Device, (Emergency Door Release) by breaking the glass.

Call for Help

You are going to need assistance in an emergency, so calling for help is something that needs to be done as soon as possible. Not only are you going to need the Emergency Services, you are also going to need help from colleagues. In my school, I do this, by placing an emergency call on my Radio, using the following example message:

“Sam to all, radios, this is an emergency message. Ambulance and First Aiders required in the Library, Room 23 B Block. Unconscious Young Person, ID unknown, no obvious injuries, the casualty is breathing and has a pulse. Over.” However, sometimes you will have to phone, instead of using a radio, so in this situation, it’s best to dial 999 before calling your school, to report the incident.

When assistance comes, handover as much information as you can. (What has happened, what you have done to make the situation safe, how many people are involved, if there are injuries etc.) The more information you can give to the Emergency Services and other colleagues, will make dealing with the emergency easier and will be a great help.

REMEMBER: Keep calm, remain professional and use your judgement wisely!

Below are some handy numbers, you may need in an emergency: (This list is not comprohensive)

  • Emergency Services – Police, Ambulance Fire: 999
  • British Transport Police: 61006
  • Police Non Emergency: 101
  • NHS 111: Call 111
  • Power Cuts \ National Grid Emergencies: 105
  • Local Council: Find your local Council here
  • Gas Emergency: 0800 111999
  • RSPCA: 0300 1234 999
  • BT: 0800 800151

Compassionate, Honest and Unconditional Care

Last night, we had an emergency placement, of a ten year old lad called Max. I cannot go into the reason Max has been taken into care, but he has been placed with us for the time being. Sam and I are specialist Foster Carers and are the only Fostering Placement in the area, which deals with Trauma. Trauma can include, but is not limited to:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or the sudden death of a loved one
  • Exposure to violence, alcohol misuse and drugs
  • Being made to do things that the child does not want to do

There are not enough Foster Families who can support kids with these issues and placements are very far and few between. As I say, I cannot go into the reasons why Max is in care, but I will say that he was put in a Children’s Home, which was inappropriate for his needs. This placement broke down and we had a call at Teatime, as he needed to be placed with us.

Everything was fine until 1am , when Sam and I heard a scream. Normally we can tell who is screaming, by the sound. However, this time, we couldn’t tell. So it meant going in and checking on each of the boys. We finally found out it was Max and I took him downstairs, made him a hot chocolate and reassured and calmed him down and talked to him about his nightmare.

With the types of placements we have, you have to have a lot of patience and understanding. You also need to be a good listener and be non judgemental. Sometimes, kids find trusting adults difficult, especially if they have been mistreated. I can speak from experience, as we have had many kids come through our door, with trust issues. We have also had kids who are afraid of the bath, due to fear of drowning and also several kids who cannot sleep without the light on.

We have to make special adjustments for kids like this, so that we can make sure they safe and that their wellbeing is always at the heart of what we do. Their safety is always top priority and that is why we have CCTV, Security Doors, monitored alarms etc. I think that the kids do not see the house as a “prison”, more like somewhere extremely safe, where they can get back to what is important – being a child and enjoying childhood.

On top of this, we strive to support kids placed with us as best we can and we will never turn away a child in need. (nor will we ever give up on a child in our care) These kids often are broken, have been failed and need lots of love, support, a listening ear and not fear judgement. That is what the kids we look after get, 24 hours a day. Sam, Jenny and I do not mind being woken up in the middle of the night, by one of the boys and they are encouraged to come and knock on the door, if they can’t sleep, are not well or need to talk. We’re always happy to have a chat about what ever is bothering them. Sadly, (in the middle of the night) a lot of Foster Carers will talk to the child in question and then send them back to bed 10 mins later, with the problem half fixed. This is where we make a “positive difference,” because no matter what time it is, we will make the time to listen and support our kids, with open, honest and unconditional love.

Max was OK after he sat with me for 2 hours last night. It took some time to calm him down and to talk about how he was feeling. Thankfully, by 5am, we had managed to get him settled and back to bed. He is looking forward to going on holiday next week to Skegness with Sam, myself, Jenny, Sam’s mum Linda and the other boys. Max has never been on holiday before, so it is a bit daunting for him. However, he can’t wait, after finding out what’s on offer!

Max will be Ok, he just needs stability and the correct level of support and that is what he will get, while he is with us.

It’s one of those nights!

Tonight’s shift isn’t going well. We have Boarders keep getting out of bed and saying it is too hot. We have windows open and fans are in limited supply. For our unit, we only have 3 fans for 15 boarders! There are other fans, but they have been assigned to other units, who are probably having the same problem as we are; here on Jets.

All I can really advise the kids to do, is to fold back the duvet and sleep without it over them. Also I am advising that they do not wear a PJ Top in bed, to help keep them cool and if they need a cold drink, to grab a glass of squash, which is on a trolley, near to the Staff Base. (Jugs of Orange and also Blackcurrant Squash is on offer, plus a jug of plain water.)

I have also advised boarders to take showers instead of baths. (Off the washroom, there are 2 bathrooms, with shower and bath facilities.) I have been onto Amazon and bought a few more fans, which run on USB. The cost of these will come out of our Unit’s budget, but it’s worth it, as they run on USB and it means each boarder can have a fan in their rooms. Also, the sockets in the bedrooms, have USB ports. So we can just plug them in; just like that.

Hopefully soon, this lot will quieten down and hopefully we won’t have boarders, getting out of bed and complaining about the heat, or pressing the call buzzer, in their rooms. Apart from the heat, my shift is going quite well. I have done log books, sorted pocket money for tomorrow, (Pocket Money is always handed our on a Saturday) and I have cleaned the unit fish tank.

I’m on Waking Night again tomorrow, covering for a colleague who is ill. I enjoy my job and spending time with the boarders. Night Shift is long and it it can be busy at times. Whether I am dealing with a pupil whose been sick, to boarders who have had a nightmare or are homesick, to those boarders who generally disrupt things, I take it all in my stride and be like Mary Poppins! (Firm but fair) The boarders affectionately know me as their “Care Bear) because I’m a larger kinda guy, who quite hairy, plus I genuinely, do care about each and every boarder. I make time for each and everyone of them and I think that is why the boarders love me so much. Plus, I am not like some Heads of Care, who only work Monday to Friday. I am at school on the units or in my office, 7 days a week. Plus I am always at the other end of the phone.

Anyway, enough of my waffling, I got laundry to do. On weekends, our Laundry Staff do not work, so the Unit staff have to do it, but I don’t mind!

Goodnight folks, sleep well x

PS: We do have Air Conditioning, the Office, Lounge and by Staff Base, all have Air Conditioners. If I could, I’d have every bedroom air conditioned, but it costs too much, so I doubt that will happen.

Football is Coming Home!!!!

Yesterday, the atmosphere at school was electric; as we cheered on England, as they played Denmark last night. Sam and I organised a BBQ for the Boarders on all units and we got the bouncy castles out from storage. We put up gazebos, (3 of them our ours) I had a gazebo with Sam’s Disco Kit and played music through it. Of course, we had to play Football’s Coming Home (Southgate you’re the one) 3 Lions, Vindaloo, and Meat Pie Sausage Roll (Come on England give us a goal) Course, I had the kids and staff singing along.

So at 8pm and we all went to the Sports Hall to watch the match. We could not believe it when Denmark scored, as we all thought England were finished. Then we scored, making us level with the Danes. it was a nerve wracking match, which had us all on the edges of our seats.

Finally England scored again in extra time and the whole sports hall erupted! I think it was that loud, that the cheer probably could be heard from the carpark! The kids went mental, the staff went mental and Sam and I went mental! This is the 1st time that England got to the finals of the Euros \ World Cup and we have the chance to really bring football home, next week. Hopefully England will win. Imagine that, I think the whole country will erupt if that happens!

I ended up helping to get boarders off to bed and then helped Sam clean up the sports hall after. I didn’t get home until 11:45 last night and was knackered. I am on Care this afternoon and am working on the Jets Unit, on a late shift.

Time to disappear for Handover, so enjoy the sun and keep them fingers crossed for England!

A Guide to Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety is as important in the home, as in the workplace.Regardless if we are an employer, a employee or a householder, we all have a duty to respect electricity and use it safely. In this guide, we will look at how we can use electricity safely and the steps we need to take.

I am writing this post, after a dangerous cable, which had partially melted, knocked the power out on the 3rd and 4th floors of J Block.

First, Lets Talk About Pylons, Substations and Railways.

Tall electricity Pylons can be very dangerous, as they carry thousands and thousands of of volts of electricity and is enough to instantly kill you. This is why you should never attempt to climb a pylon or fly a kite or model plane (inc. drones) near them. If you see someone trying to climb a pylon, you must phone the Police, by dialling 999, Followed by Electricity Emergency on 105 immediately.

Substations are also just as dangerous. They may carry less voltage, but still can kill you or seriously injure you, due to the voltage and magnetic fields, caused by the incoming and outgoing power, as it is stepped up and down. Some Substations are in yards, like the one behind the School Laundry. These usually have high fences and also have large Danger of Death signs on them. (For good reason) Others may be in a building or enclosed in a room inside a building. An example of this, is the substation that transforms the power from our Generators, to a safe voltage and are located next to the Generator Plant Room in the Basement of D Block. These Substations are also kept locked and only the Electricity Board have keys.

Railways use either 750v DC 3rd Rail, 25kv AC Overhead, (25,000 Volts) or 750v DC 4th Rail. Each type of power feed can cause life changing injuries or can cause instant death. It is illegal to trespass on Railway land and it is extremely dangerous to touch the conductor rails or the overhead lines.

Safety of Electrical Equipment at Home and At Work.

Equipment at work, that is plugged into the mains, should have a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) once a year. This checks the connections to the plug and ensures that the appliance is safe to use. Some appliances may fail, due to old wiring, damage to the plug or earth leakage.

Testing of equipment at home is not a legal requirement, but you should check that sockets are not overloaded and that the plugs and sockets are checked regularly. This also applies in the workplace. If you need to use an extension lead, DO NOT OVERLOAD IT! If you are using en extension lead on a drum, make sure that it has been completely unwound and is not looped, or it may get very hot. Never use paperclips as substitute to fuses, as it can cause the fuse holder to overheat and combust!

In the home and at work, it is important to check cabling, sockets and switches regularly. Look for signs of cracked \ frayed cabling, cracked sockets \ switches, switches and sockets that are hot to touch, Burnt or scorched, electrical fittings that are loose or badly connected etc. Any signs of the above should be dealt with, by taking the socket \ switch \ appliance out of use and a electrician called to remedy the fault.

Electrical Safety When Out and About

If you are out and about and see a faulty lamp post, or a traffic lights that are not working properly, report the issue to your local Council. However, if the fault poses a danger to the general public, such as a sparking lamp post, call the Emergency Services on 999.

If you see a pit, where men have been working to replace cable in the ground, don’t be a pratt and jump down to have a look! There is the possibility that a live cable may of been left exposed and that the cable may be a higher voltage than 240 volts. The higher the voltage, the higher the risk of you receiving an injury or even death!

If you see a downed cable, do not go near it, keep everyone clear and call the emergency services. Dial 999.

If we respect electricity and we use it for it’s correct purpose, it will respect us. If we do not respect electricity, it can lead to death injury or even fire!

Vindaloo anyone?

So after the epic England Match yesterday, some of the boys on the Oaks and Acorns Unit have decided to make their own version of Vindaloo, to support England in Euro 2021. That meant that this afternoon, I had to go back into work to get the camcorders from the AV Cupboard in the Main School. (They have since been locked in the filing cabinet in the Unit Office and our Young People were fully supervised while using the cameras.

So far, the kids have recorded parts of the music video in the corridors on J Block and D Block and dragged staff into the video, including myself and Sam. The kids managed to catch me walking down the stairs singing along and Sam singing and dancing with a mop. I am going to try and drag other staff into the video, including a few teachers and our Head Karen!

I know Karen is very into encouraging the Performing Arts side of things and she will definitely get involved with the video., I might also suggest that we do a video for 3 Lions, which is something we can get the whole school involved with. (Staff and Pupils)

I have posted the link to the music video below. (The song was originally released in 1998. This UK No. 2 hit single is probably the most popular England Football Anthem ever and was by the band “Fat Les”. The music video for the song is a parody of the video for “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve, which was itself inspired by the music video for “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack. The video features a drummer, Sumo Wrestlers, Hockey Players, loads of kids, a bloke with a piece of paper with the photo of David Walliams on it, a Vicar and a drunk woman, among many others.

Meanwhile, I am currently sat on the Children’s Assessment Unit at the Hospital with Josh. He may require an appendectomy and is currently on a drip of Paracetamol and fluids, while they decide if they need to operate or not. If he does, it will be likely that they will operate in the morning and of course, I will update the blog as soon as I can, regarding this. For now tho, I got some work I can do on my laptop, πŸ™‚

Football Fever Grips School!

Yesterday. football fever sweeped school yesterday, as the kids watched the England vs Scotland Match in the Sports Hall. Last night. Sam had setup the projector in the Sports hall, so everyone could watch the England – Scotland match. (Socially distantly of course) As the Boarders were walking from their units to D Block, (which is where the Sports Hall is) they were singing the Lightning Seeds – 3 Lions really loudly. At the time, I was on the phone to a parent and had to ask them to hold the line for a moment. I then opened the office window and stuck my head out the window to see what was going on. It was such an atmosphere as staff and boarders walked across the car park, to the Sports Block, singing 3 Lions. (The Sports Block is D Block) The Sports Block has the Sports Hall on the ground floor, an observation balcony and the Fitness Room on the 1st floor, and the basement; houses the 25 metre Indoor Swimming Pool.

Even our kids got in on the action, singing along to 3 Lions (Especially Josh!)

Most of the windows in J Block have England Flags flying , as the kids show their support for our home nation. Many of the boarders were also wearing their England Shirts last night too. The kids have also been playing 3 Lions \ Vindaloo from their phones, on their CD Players in their rooms and on their tablets. It just proves how proud our kids are of their home nation, I know we have boarders from all faiths and backgrounds, but last night that didn’t matter… The boarders and staff united last night, to cheer on England, and I was proud to be a part of it!

In the Sport Hall, the atmosphere was electric, as staff and kids watched the match, with loud cheers throughout the match, Shame the match was a draw! After the match, the kids were certainly excited after the tense and match. Some ver very tired, but the others were still very hyper. On the way back to J Block, some of the kids were singing Fat Les – Vindaloo as they walked across the carpark. Tryin to get the kids to settle down for bed, was quite a tricky task; but we got there eventually! Yesterday had to be the most exciting late \ Sleep In Shift I have had for a while!

Pissed Off Is a Understatement!

Sam and I have had to remove most of the content from the Blog for now, due to someone using our identities and information about our work and our family. Odiously, Sam and I are very concerned about this and have taken the decision to remove the content from the website and review what information we post.

Stealing someone’s Identity and basically fabricating a life, from information posted on this website is sick and twisted. Who ever is responsible has used this information to cause upset and distress to others. Thankfully, we were told about this and Sam and I both want to thank the person who alerted us to this situation. If we hadn’t, this person would still be at it. Thankfully, he’s been caught out and with us removing the content on the website, will hopefully prevent something like this happening again.

Sam and I are shocked that there are nasty people out there on the world wide web, who only want to cause trouble. This has really upset both of us and we hope that we will not have any further problems from this person.

Sorry for the inconvenience

Kyle x

A Day In The Life Of Kyle McLaughlin


One of the Boarders asked to interview me, about the job I do. (For the School News Paper) Of course, I was glad to give an interview, which is written from my perspective. The Interview is quite interesting and tells you about my job and the responsibility I have as Head of Care. (I have edited the interview for obvious reasons)

We caught up with Mr. McLaughlin, who is Head of Care at our School. In this interview we will find out about Mr. McLaughlin and find out about the responsibilities he has as Head of Care.

My team provide 24 hour specialist care to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society. We provide safe, holistic and compassionate care, to everyone who comes into our care. All this is provided in bright, friendly, safe and secure environment.

I’m Kyle McLaughlin, I am 36 and am known around school, as “the man in a skirt!” (Actually, it is a Kilt) I am Scottish and was born in Aberdeen, but now I have settled for County Durham, where I live with Sam and we have our own family. I have been working at the school for the last 10 years and started as a Carer on the Birds Unit. Soon, I worked my way up to being the Unit Leader for the Jets Unit. I enjoyed running the Jets Unit, as it kept me on my toes. Being an an Assessment Unit for  Adolescents, it kept me on my toes!

In 2018, I was made Acting Head Of Care and then earlier this year, was made Head Of Care as a full time position. I love my job, but when I am not walking the units and am sat in my office; I don’t have the luxury of casual clothes. To be honest, I hate to wear a shirt and tie, but it goes with my job description. Of course, I wear my kilt and was granted special permission to have it as part of my uniform. These days, I wear my kilt, if in a shirt and tie, or in a t-shirt and hooded top. I get the occasional skirt comment made, but it does not bother me!

When I first came into care, I was so scared, everything was new and I was unsure if I could cope. Kyle put my mind at ease and really helped me to settle in. To me, he’s part of the family – he’s great! A Border on the Jets Unit

My job is mainly administrative, (meaning that I sit behind a desk, doing paperwork and making lots of calls) but I do enjoy working on the Units. You will see me on the units throughout the week and I enjoy talking and spending time with the Boarders. (Especially when asked to play pool!) I work mainly during the day and into the evening, but you will also see me working once or twice a week at night. I do both a sleep-in shift, (where I go to bed on one of the units and am available should there be an emergency or if there is a problem at night ) On a Friday, I do a Waking Night shift, where I stay awake all night, keeping an eye on the boarders while they sleep. I use this time as a chance to catch up with paperwork and assist with laundry. I work with a large team of staff, who provide “care with a smile” (most of the time) to the young people we care for. We are lucky to also have 15 volunteers, who help with teaching the kids to read, playing football, learning to play a instrument or just being there when the kids need a listening ear. To sum up my job in one sentence, I am overall responsible for the care of every child that is placed within our residential service. (that’s 50 boys and at time it can be quite daunting!

All Boarders live in J Block, which is the large 4 floor building at the back of the school and is often referred to Junior House. This iconic building, with it’s “Mock Tudor” front was built in the 1980s and replaced the previous  building. This 4  story tower block was to be the new home for boarders and  would be home to 45 boarders on a full time basis. It was officially opened by Baroness Thatcher (Then Prime Minister) in 1989. Originally, the building had  5 units occupy the 1st – 4th floor and the ground floor was used as a recreation area. In the 90s, the building was refurbished and the layout changed. The units were altered, so that there would be 2 units on each floor, complete with their own communal areas. Sick Bay was enlarged, so that we could look after children who were too unwell to learn in a classroom and the Care Offices were also moved to the 4th floor of the building and the portakabin office space was demolished.  In 2017, the cladding was removed on the walls of the building, after the Grenfell Fire.

When my Nan died, Kyle sat with me for ages, making sure that I was OK. Even though I was very sad, Kyle helped me and even went with me to Nan’s funeral. I can’t imagine what our school would be like without Kyle! A Boarder on the Squirrels Unit

No day is ever the same, but normally it starts with me waking up at about 6am. The house is usually very quiet, as Sam will have gone to work by then and the kids will be still sound asleep. I usually grab a shower and a coffee and then Jenny and I (Our Live In Carer) start to wake the kids up, get them ready for school and make sure they get their breakfast. Breakfast is a bit mad in our house, with the kids squabbling over boxes of cereals and Jenny burning toast. I drive a couple of the boys to school, if I am working 9 – 5. They don’t go to my school, but go to school not far from work. I usually end up  getting rather annoyed with parents of day pupils, as often they park in my space and have to be politely told to “MOVE IT!” By the time I get parked and take the lift to the 4th floor of J Block, it is 9am.

I always go and see Kyle if I am feeling down, as he listens to you, doesn’t judge you, he won’t tell you what to do, but instead; he explores the problem with me and then helps me to make a choice on how to move forward.  A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

Usually, the first job I do, is to check my emails. I get a lot of emails and it takes a while to sift through them. By then, I will have probably had a couple of coffees and am usually late for a meeting. I go to lots of meetings, with Social Workers, CAMHS Professionals etc. I also meet with the School Leadership Team, parents and pupils too.  once I’ve been to a couple of meetings, it’s back behind my desk and I begin updating care Plans, finishing assessment paperwork and typing up reports for review meetings. these can take ages to complete, as I often have to sift through files to to find the right information and update paperwork as needed. By then, it is lunchtime. In our school, most of the staff bring their lunches into work with them or go to town and go to Greggs or Subway. I have a hot dinner at work and enjoy sitting with the kids, rather than on the Staff tables.  Our Caters prepare fresh food on a daily basis, which the kids and staff enjoy.

Once we were playing football and I kicked the ball through a window on the Foxes Unit. When asked who broke the window, Kyle took the wrap and said that if anyone sequels, they will get rat poo in their cereal tomorrow morning! (He was joking about the rat poo though!) A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

After lunch, it’s back to paperwork or I attend more meetings. Once a month, I hold a meeting with the Boarder’s Steering Group. The Steering Group is a sub-committee of the School Council and is made up of 6 Young People from the various units. We talk about a wide variety of issues, from activities, food and events, to maintenance issues, laundry and policy. These meetings are really interesting and I get a lot of feedback, which then I pass to the Senior Leadership Team. (As Head of Care, I am on the Senior Leadership Team for the school) On some afternoons, I work on the Units themselves, so I have to finish work before half 2 and head down to the Unit I am on shift with. Once I get to the unit, we have a handover meeting. This is where we talk about all the borders on the unit I am working on. We talk about behavior, health, appointments boarders may need to attend and afternoon activities.

Finally, the bell rings at 3:15 and by 3.25, weary boarders make their way to their units. Once the boys have got changed and put their clean laundry away, we have a quick unit meeting; (with healthy snacks) where everyone signs out for activities for the afternoon. This could be swimming,  rollerblading, arts and crafts or a off site activity. Even though I have my deputy (Bev) I usually hold back and stay on site, just in case I normally end up swimming or trying to Rollerblade with the kids. (I am not as good as they are!) At half 5, the boarders come back to their units. They have half a hour free time, before tea, which comes up on hot trolleys. After tea, the boarders have to do a hour of homework which we help with if needed. At around 7, we have another activity on site. This could be cooking, using the computers and the Internet etc. On a Wednesday, we also have clubs (held locally) which the boys can join in with. (Scouts, D of E etc) At about half 8, the boarders come back to their units and take baths or showers. A few boarders need help with this, as some of them are disabled and usually end up with me getting soaked when it is my turn! (We have 3 Parker Baths and 2 Walk In Baths for disabled boarders) After baths, we provide supper and we put put a film on, while beginning to put people to bed 9pm comes and we have another handover and I can finally go home! I’m normally knackered when I get home and our wee ones are normally in their beds by then. But I get to spend some time with Sam, which is good.

Mr. McLaughlin is so cool! He wears his Kilt to work and he can even play the Bagpipes! A Year 8 Day Pupil

When I work nights, everything changes. The units are eerily quiet and it is darker than usual (We only leave the wall up lighters on at night) Care staff are usually whispering while they sit at the desks on the corridor and there is the odd cough from boarders who are fast asleep. Occasionally, someone will cry out in the night or will press their call buzzer. This may be because someone is not very well, or they may have had a nightmare. Often a bit of reassurance and a cuddle does the trick, while in the case of a poorly boarder, it may mean a trip to Sick Bay on the 3rd floor. However, this is not always the case. All Units have basic medication, such as Paracetamol, in a locked cupboard in the unit office. If it is clear that they are not well enough to be looked after on their unit, we take that boarder to Sick Bay, which is nurse lead. They can also call the School Doctor out as well, if needed. (We are one of the few specialist schools in the UK to have 2 GP’s!) If they are taken very ill, one of the carers can use the school car to take the poorly boarder to A&E. (Or if needed, we can call an ambulance) During the night, we also write up notes about how the boarders are progressing and this is kept in their files in the office. Boarders files are updated on every shift, providing clear and accurate care records.

Kyle is my favorite member of staff. He’s a great laugh, he never gets cross and hardly ever has to shout! A Boarder on the Oaks and Acorns Unit

Laundry is another job I love to do when working nights. Our school Laundry, (based in F Block) operates nearly 24 hours a day and handles thousands of pieces of laundry a week! 9 Commercial Washers and 7 Commercial Dryers are always on the go, washing everything from towels, to sheets, boarders clothes and even kitchen whites. During the day, the Laundress (Dorothy) and her assistants do most of the laundry. However, this is mainly bedding, as we go through quite a bit of it on a daily basis. So it is up to the night staff to wash, dry and press boarders clothes, to prevent a serious backlog in the laundry system. We try to get everything washed dried and pressed in the same night, but with the amount of laundry, this often is not the case and is often completed by Dorothy and her team. Thankfully, by now it is around 5am, so not long left to go until I finish work. I probably will get another few loads pressed, put into baskets and taken up in cages to the units, before it is time for handover and I can finally go home and get some sleep! πŸ™‚ However, sometimes it doesn’t work like that, as sometimes the fire alarm may go off or something may happen, which means I have to stay longer. (once, I had to stay until 10am and was really really tired by the time I got home. Apparently I looked like a zombie!)

I know no matter what I am going through, if I need someone to talk to, I know I can trust Kyle. He always knows the right thing to say when I am feeling low, because I  am missing home. A Boarder on the Jets Unit

I will admit my job hasn’t been easy. I have had my fair few “hellish” shifts. From kids getting onto the roof of the 3rd floor, lift emergencies, countless evacuations, Cardiac Arrests and many more! I have had to talk kids out of suicide and I have had to deal with intruders coming into the building. Keeping a level head is key to this job. You do not know what will happen on each shift. One minute everything is fine, then suddenly, the kids could start to kick off, or the fire alarm could go off. I always have to keep my wits about me and my eyes as sharp as a eagle. Sometimes you can spot and prevent a problem, before it escalates; but often this is not always the way.

I love it when Kyle brings Sox (the School Pets as Therapy Cat) onto the unit. I love it when he jumps up on my knee and purrs. A Boarder on the Birds Unit

When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with the family We often go out bowling or we go to the park and sometimes we stay in and watch movies or bake. In our house, the number one rule is to have fun and we certainly do that! I am lucky to have such a great family and a job where I think I make a real difference. If I was offered a job elsewhere, I’d have to turn it down; as I am happy in my job. I have great colleagues, the kids are great, (even though at times they don’t show it!) and I am doing something good in the community.