Bright Beginnings Charity has appointed its first Chief Executive Officer thanks in part to a multi-year grant from the Guernsey Community Foundation.
Lisa Blondel was raised and educated in Guernsey before moving to the UK to train as a secondary school teacher specialising in English. After more than a decade teaching in UK schools, she returned to the island in 2018 to raise her daughter and develop her interest in working with children with social, emotional and mental health needs, firstly at Les Voies and then at Les Beaucamps High School.
Ms Blondel said: “As a teacher, my focus was on children with significant needs and the effect that this has on their ability to learn.
“I’ve always been keen to ensure that they had the same opportunities as their peers. The Covid lockdowns were a particularly challenging time for families and young people. When we eventually returned to school, it was clear that lockdown had had a significant impact on children’s mental health and that many families were struggling.”
She continued: “Two areas make a huge difference to a child’s development. The first is the crucial attachment a baby makes with their primary care givers, through the care and nurture they provide, and the second relates to language acquisition and literacy as they grow. Bright Beginnings provides support in both these areas.”
Ms Blondel sees her new position at Bright Beginnings as: “A real opportunity to make a difference at the start of a child’s life.”
The Guernsey Community Foundation’s substantial grant — which includes co-funding from a private charitable trust secured by the Foundation — will help fund the Chief Executive’s role for several years.
Chair of Bright Beginnings David Farrimond commented: “The Board of Bright Beginnings are delighted to welcome Lisa as our CEO. Lisa brings a wealth of experience to this new role. We look forward with anticipation as Lisa focuses on the strategic direction of Bright Beginnings to benefit Guernsey families.”
Ms Blondel will lead and oversee the management of Bright Beginnings Children’s Centre, Nursery and Preschool, and Literacy Programme, whilst providing development and strategic direction to the Board on the delivery of services, fundraising, and programme management.
Bright Beginnings — recognised as Charity of the Year at the Foundation’s 2021 Community Foundation Awards — has a clear aim: to help every parent and carer give their child the best possible start in life. Now welcoming approximately 150 families a week, Bright Beginnings opened a Children’s Centre and Nursery in 2017 and offers a range of services to support Guernsey families with particular emphasis on the 1001 Critical Days Agenda (conception to age 2), an essential part of the States of Guernsey Children and Young Person’s Plan for Guernsey and Alderney which emphasises the importance of a child’s relationship with its caregivers.
Jim Roberts, Chief Executive of the Guernsey Community Foundation, said: “We are very pleased to have been able to support this challenging and important role and wish Lisa and the team at Bright Beginnings the greatest success in their journey.”
The Foundation’s Grants Programme gives over £250,000 a year to charities. Applications, which should be for a minimum of £5,000, are accepted all year round. More details, including an application form, can be found here. For more information, email or call the Foundation on 259523.
Main picture: Jim Roberts, CEO at Guernsey Community Foundation and Lisa Blondel, CEO of Bright Beginning