Serenity Welfare

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Serenity Welfare's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Serenity Welfare is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.serenitywelfare.org

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | SERENITY WELFARE
CEO Emily Aklan
Welfare services for children
and young people in care
and out of care
CEO Emily Aklan describes the secure transport service that
Serenity Welfare offers as “second-to-none”. Nominated
for a Queen’s Award in recent years, the multifaceted
company mainly operates in the supported transport sector,
but it also provides a variety of other social care services. These
include mentoring, 24-hour support for vulnerable people in
custody and supported accommodation.
I established Serenity Welfare after experiencing first-hand the need for a
comprehensive and effective care system. Following the tragic death of my sister at
the age of 35, her ex-husband kidnapped their two young children, aged seven and
ten, and fled to North Cyprus. My life was turned upside down and for the next
year, I worked alongside the Home Office and the police to secure their return. A
custody battle ensued, and we were able to win full custody of the girls.
While this was going on, I was contacted by a worker from the social services who
told me they needed to establish a provision for looked-after children, especially
focusing on how these children are transported from place to place. She said that
if it wasn’t for me, my nieces would have entered the care system and likely been
separated. I knew this was something I needed to look into.
Fighting for change
After two years of research, I decided to establish my own provision, focusing
on changing the way this transportation was undertaken. In the vast majority of
cases, young children are handcuffed and placed in a secure vehicle similar to a
police van. Rather than continuing to conform to this model, I decided we would
FACTS ABOUT
SERENITY WELFARE
»CEO: Emily Aklan
»Established in November 2016
»Based in Enfield, but operates
nationwide
»Services: Welfare and secure
transport for looked-after
children and young people
»No. of employees: Over 30
Serenity Welfare
27SERENITY WELFARE |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
focus on the wellbeing of the children.
Because of this, we only transfer
children in prestigious cars and never
usehandcuffs.
I made contact with Mercedes, chosen
for their prestige and comfort, and
asked them to open a credit line on
a fleet of vehicles. All we had was
a registered name with Companies
House, but Mercedes were so
impressed with our model that they
issued us with our first vehicle.
Our service was established in
November 2016 and immediately
I set about finding staff who were
just as passionate as I was. I didn’t
want to adopt the structure of our
competitors; I wanted to adopt a more
nurturing and mentoring approach.
We always strive to make each journey
as comfortable as possible and were
fortunate to quickly find the staff
weneeded.
Over the next six months, we grew
and developed the business. Our major
obstacle was getting the local authority
to understand our model. Although
we use more prestigious vehicles,
our model structure means we are
able to offer our services at a cheaper
rate because we focus on volume
rather than the cost of each individual
journey. We also explained our
approach to the transports themselves:
we do not use handcuffs and restraint
is always a last resort. Instead, we
focus on de-escalation and mentoring,
and while challenging situations
might take slightly longer to diffuse,
our system works and preserves the
dignity of the children we care for. This
success is reflected in our wonderful
outcomes and our near 100 per cent
success rate over the last three years.
Expanding our provision
For the first six months, I would
personally go out on our transport jobs
as I wanted to meet the young people
and see how our model was working.
The difference is immediately clear:
when our cars turn up, the children
are excited and immediately feel
comfortable. Six months in, we picked
up a looked-after young person from
Manchester who was a looked-after
child of Caerphilly. This individual was
highly challenging but over the journey
we built up a rapport.
Two months later, I received a call
from the social workers in Caerphilly,
telling me the young person had
requested to come into our care.
Despite not having a care provision, I
put together a package that included
two-to-one care and budgeted for
activities, food and spending money.
A month later, the young person went
to the High Court judge in Wales and
the judge ruled that we were to be
awarded custody under a Deprivation
of Liberty agreement. The judge stated
that she must have constant two-to-
one supervision and live in a secure
environment. We were told that she
would be arriving in 48 hours.
We had to source and establish
accommodation, alongside picking up
the individual, within this timeframe. Our mission statement:
Treat people how you
would like to be treated
I would
absolutely
recommend
Serenity
Welfare to
family, friends
and anyone
looking for
outstanding
service with a
fantastic
friendly,
welcoming
and caring
approach
Testimonial from a
local borough
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | SERENITY WELFARE
CEO Emily Aklan
Welfare services for children
and young people in care
and out of care
CEO Emily Aklan describes the secure transport service that
Serenity Welfare offers as “second-to-none”. Nominated
for a Queen’s Award in recent years, the multifaceted
company mainly operates in the supported transport sector,
but it also provides a variety of other social care services. These
include mentoring, 24-hour support for vulnerable people in
custody and supported accommodation.
I established Serenity Welfare after experiencing first-hand the need for a
comprehensive and effective care system. Following the tragic death of my sister at
the age of 35, her ex-husband kidnapped their two young children, aged seven and
ten, and fled to North Cyprus. My life was turned upside down and for the next
year, I worked alongside the Home Office and the police to secure their return. A
custody battle ensued, and we were able to win full custody of the girls.
While this was going on, I was contacted by a worker from the social services who
told me they needed to establish a provision for looked-after children, especially
focusing on how these children are transported from place to place. She said that
if it wasn’t for me, my nieces would have entered the care system and likely been
separated. I knew this was something I needed to look into.
Fighting for change
After two years of research, I decided to establish my own provision, focusing
on changing the way this transportation was undertaken. In the vast majority of
cases, young children are handcuffed and placed in a secure vehicle similar to a
police van. Rather than continuing to conform to this model, I decided we would
FACTS ABOUT
SERENITY WELFARE
»CEO: Emily Aklan
»Established in November 2016
»Based in Enfield, but operates
nationwide
»Services: Welfare and secure
transport for looked-after
children and young people
»No. of employees: Over 30
Serenity Welfare
27SERENITY WELFARE |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
focus on the wellbeing of the children.
Because of this, we only transfer
children in prestigious cars and never
usehandcuffs.
I made contact with Mercedes, chosen
for their prestige and comfort, and
asked them to open a credit line on
a fleet of vehicles. All we had was
a registered name with Companies
House, but Mercedes were so
impressed with our model that they
issued us with our first vehicle.
Our service was established in
November 2016 and immediately
I set about finding staff who were
just as passionate as I was. I didn’t
want to adopt the structure of our
competitors; I wanted to adopt a more
nurturing and mentoring approach.
We always strive to make each journey
as comfortable as possible and were
fortunate to quickly find the staff
weneeded.
Over the next six months, we grew
and developed the business. Our major
obstacle was getting the local authority
to understand our model. Although
we use more prestigious vehicles,
our model structure means we are
able to offer our services at a cheaper
rate because we focus on volume
rather than the cost of each individual
journey. We also explained our
approach to the transports themselves:
we do not use handcuffs and restraint
is always a last resort. Instead, we
focus on de-escalation and mentoring,
and while challenging situations
might take slightly longer to diffuse,
our system works and preserves the
dignity of the children we care for. This
success is reflected in our wonderful
outcomes and our near 100 per cent
success rate over the last three years.
Expanding our provision
For the first six months, I would
personally go out on our transport jobs
as I wanted to meet the young people
and see how our model was working.
The difference is immediately clear:
when our cars turn up, the children
are excited and immediately feel
comfortable. Six months in, we picked
up a looked-after young person from
Manchester who was a looked-after
child of Caerphilly. This individual was
highly challenging but over the journey
we built up a rapport.
Two months later, I received a call
from the social workers in Caerphilly,
telling me the young person had
requested to come into our care.
Despite not having a care provision, I
put together a package that included
two-to-one care and budgeted for
activities, food and spending money.
A month later, the young person went
to the High Court judge in Wales and
the judge ruled that we were to be
awarded custody under a Deprivation
of Liberty agreement. The judge stated
that she must have constant two-to-
one supervision and live in a secure
environment. We were told that she
would be arriving in 48 hours.
We had to source and establish
accommodation, alongside picking up
the individual, within this timeframe. Our mission statement:
Treat people how you
would like to be treated
I would
absolutely
recommend
Serenity
Welfare to
family, friends
and anyone
looking for
outstanding
service with a
fantastic
friendly,
welcoming
and caring
approach
Testimonial from a
local borough
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | SERENITY WELFARE
So many years
of education,
yet nobody
taught us how
to love
ourselves
Selin and Ricardo have drastically helped me with expressing myself in
a positive way and have guided me on the right path, showing me right
from wrong. They have also helped me take education more seriously
and helped show me how to spend my free time in a good way. They
check up on me on a regular basis, seeing how I am feeling and to
discuss my problems. If I have any, they help me understand where
I’m wrong and how to fix things in a smart way. They have definitely
changed my views in life and helped me understand and come to terms
with the fact that there is more to life than violence, drugs and gangs.
Young person, 17 years old
Interventions and
workshops
We managed to accomplish this,
and within nine months she had
achieved dramatic improvement.
After dealing with her self-harming
issues, we focused on her education.
We organised tutoring at a library in
Enfield and taught her all the life skills
she would need to live independently.
At the end of the nine months, she
moved on to semi-independent living,
is getting married next year and has
asked me to give her away.
Following this, we were contacted by
another borough who asked to place a
child with us, so we began the process
of Ofsted registration. Significant
difficulties ensued but we were able
to navigate them. Our registration is
still ongoing. Rather than creating a
large, institutionalised setting, which I
do not think works, we only have two
bedrooms and we treat each young
person how we would treat our own
children.
We now focus on mentoring young
people. We established this service
this year and we work with vulnerable
children, local authorities, schools and
other educational provisions alongside
maintaining our secure transport and
welfare services, which include 24-
hour support supervision, hospital
watch, appropriate adult services and a
residential home.
The need for further change
Although what we have achieved is
a good start, much more needs to be
done.
It is essential that transport companies
stop the use of handcuffs and
adopt a more nurturing approach.
This is something that needs to be
acknowledged across the sector and
ingovernment.
Furthermore, more funding needs
to be made available to support
mentoring. These services perform
such a vital role. In order to provide
adequate support to our young
people, this needs to be addressed.
We see a bright future ahead. My
main goal is to open a Serenity Retreat
in Cyprus where we would take
looked-after children twice a year,
helping them to relax and widen their
experiences.
We have contacted an international
university who we will work with to
showcase educational opportunities
abroad and to give the children an
understanding of the wider world. By
continuing to widen and supplement
our services, I know we can continue
to make a positivedifference.

www.serenitywelfare.org

This article was sponsored by Serenity Welfare. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development