Mayor of Reading celebrates 20-year anniversary of local children’s charity
The Reading-based Red Balloon Learner Centre supports local children who are unable to go to school because they have been severely bullied, suffered a trauma or abuse. The celebrations took place at the Reading centre with support from the charity’s long-term champion, school caterer, Pabulum.To mark the occasion a time capsule containing written details of the experiences, hopes and dreams of Red Balloon students, staff and parents was created. Cllr. Ayub was on hand to help break the ground to bury the time capsule in the garden at the Reading Centre, where a plaque was also dedicated to commemorate the project.
Following the ceremony, attendees at the celebration enjoyed a delicious barbecue served by Pabulum’s catering staff. A special cake had even been prepared by the company’s Operations Manager, Colin Wills, a former patisserie chef, who donated his time to bake the anniversary cake.
As a long term supporter of the Reading centre, Pabulum staff were keen to put on an extra special celebration for the cause they care so deeply about. Deborah Harvey, Pabulum’s Chairman and a Trustee of Red Balloon commented: “The Red Balloon Learner Centre does such important work with incredibly vulnerable local children, who have often experienced things that no child should. In many cases these children simply have nowhere else to turn, that’s why we make it our mission to support the centre all year round with fundraising efforts and donating our time. Reaching 20 years is a major milestone for the charity, they’ve made such a difference to a great many children’s lives in that time. As a company, it feels very special to be part of this milestone and to have had a role in helping the centre continue with its valuable work.”
Red Balloon which was founded in 1996 by Carrie Herbert, provides an academic and therapeutic programme for children who are no longer able to attend mainstream school. By creating a safe environment, the charity aims to help build children’s self-confidence and enable them to return to mainstream education or move into employment or training. Originally operating out of founder Carrie Herbert’s home, with just ten children, Red Balloon now has four centres around the country, plus an online centre too. Over its 20-year history the charity has helped with the recovery and rescue of more than 420 children.
Carrie Herbert, Founder and President of Red Balloon Learner Centre Group spoke about the special occasion: “When I opened my home to the first Red Balloon student in 1996 I had no idea what the future held. Today, 20 years later I am still shocked that there are so many students who experience bullying and for whom there seems to be little support. We have grown significantly and now help to recover over 100 children a year - but there are so many more children who need help and support. Red Balloon could not have grown without the support of friends, family, advisors and donors - and we are extremely grateful to them all. Pabulum is a valued supporter of both Red Balloon Learner Centre Group and Red Balloon-Reading and we are extremely grateful that their staff, clients and customers have helped us in a variety of ways to recover severely bullied and traumatised children.”
To find out more about Red Balloon visit www.redballoonlearner.co.uk