We do tend to think of food as something that makes us fat or thin, and I know I contribute in some way to that way of thinking with all the television and books about dieting. However, the role of nutrition goes is far greater than that, and can have a significant effect of behavioural issues, especially in children.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Oxford for a Candlemass service to celebrate the 60th anniversary of an extraordinary school.
Established in 1948, the Mulberry Bush works with some of the most distressed and vulnerable primary school age children in the country. Having spent a little time with the staff and observing how the work with the children, I was honoured when they asked me to be a Patron. I aim to help the school create a nutritional plan that will support the children.
I will keep you up to date of events, but I will be spending a whole day at the Mulberry Bush in early March.The children at the Mulberry Bush have often already been excluded from several schools and have usually been disrupting the community in which they live for a long time. They appear to be out of control and impossible to teach but, given their very difficult home circumstances, it is surprising that they have managed to cope for so long.
The children will often have been neglected, abused, witnessed things which no child should have to, assumed excessive responsibility and often never experienced a stable loving home life.
Situated outside Oxford, the Mulberry Bush accepts up to 36 children aged 5-12 from all over England. With the great patience, reassurance and skilled care provided at the Mulberry Bush, these children are gradually encouraged to a stage where, possibly for the first time in their lives.
They can learn to trust and respect themselves and others, establish ordinary human relationships and begin to learn.Their appetite for self-improvement then increases dramatically and the success rate of the school is very high. By the time they leave, two thirds of the children are ready to rejoin their community, go to local schools and live a rewarding life.
Despite being a national resource, the school receives no central government funding. Local authorities pay the fees, which cover the basic cost of care and education. However, these do not allow for any capital development, extension of therapeutic care, or any of the extra curricular activities, which other children take for granted.