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Camille Curtis is our September Star of the Month!

Camille has been handling the ARCO programme since 12 years now, and has recently joined Wac Arts College as Deputy Head.

She has always been enthusiastic about participating in different fundraising events, and raise funds for Wac Arts! Last July Camille skydived to support Wac Arts! Demonstrating considerable dedication to the cause, this was Camille’s first ever parachute jump, skydiving the north London skies! Camille took the plunge on July 13, 2013 and smashed her target by raising over £1,000 for Wac Arts. The summer, Camille completed a 5K marathon to support Wac Arts programmes.

Camille has been an inspiration for many students and staff members. They are following in Camille’s footsteps and stepping up to the challenge, not only raising money for Wac Arts, but taking this time to achieve personal goals.

In an interview, Camille talks about new roles and challenges, what next she is considering for a fundraising event, and EURO ARCO programme.

What brought you to Wac Arts?

I worked for the North East London Probation service, prior to joining Wac Arts. I always had a passion for performing arts and media but for some reason my career path was taking me in a completely opposite direction. So I was attracted to still work with young people whilst incorporating the performing arts and media. Then I came to the interview and I saw what an amazing beautiful building then it was, and I completely forgot what I was applying for – I just wanted to work here.

Arco is now a free school. What’s the whole process been like?

The process has been on for about two years. I have been managing the ARCO programme for last 10-11 years. What we had to do was we had to fundraise every single year or every two years, where we had to chase funding or bind different partnerships, work with different universities to get the money to work with this client group. Many people might not want to work with them as it’s considered challenging and I am talking here about ex-offenders, care leavers, young people with behavioural problems, or those with few or no qualifications. SO it’s quite difficult target group. By going to a free school process meant that now we are now being government funded. We will now be directly funded by government and it’s up to 7 years. Coming back to the client group, you want to maintain consistent good relationship which means having funding for more than a year.

Now our focus is the system. We will be ofsteded in a particular kind of way, we are responsible for the DFE. So we have to measure us in a particularly strict relative manner which is fine but that would be challenging in itself.

So, how are the students settling in?

I think they are getting a feel of who’s who and for the building. There vibes with each other are really good. We’ve got some vulnerable young people, some loud young people. But otherwise they are lovely, lovely bunch. I would say 99.9 percent of the people that I have interviewed are really lovely. They are young, teenagers would be teenagers, they will push boundaries – that’s what they do.

What excites you about the role of Deputy Head?

I suppose what excites me is the new challenge. I have been here for a long time and I was a social inclusion project coordinator, which I have been doing for a very long time. So I think for me it’s a new challenge, I need to step up my game. I am on my second year of PGCE. This year is going to be a real challenging year for me just in general. It’s about making sure everything is running smoothly and I support James in that success. James can lead the ship and I am his right hand woman.

How are you managing your PGCE along with other responsibilities?

I really don’t know. I go back this Thursday. It’s just a matter of juggling your time. If you’ve worked at Wac Arts, you should know how to juggle. I think as I have got older, there’s no point in drowning everything in your full to-do list. You have to minimise it, and know that I am dealing with these three things. That’s what humanly possible. I love my children. When I come home, it’s refreshing to see my kids. And the PGCE will benefit me and the organisation as well. As much as it’s mentally challenging, it’s benefiting us all. I’d rather be busy than idle.

Do you have planned for any fundraising event next year?

Obviously you know that I did a parachute jump last year. I ran 5K this year. I like the idea of doing a triathlon, pushing my 5K. The minimum that I would do will be 10K or a triathlon. We are thinking as a part of staff team that we could also may be do a bigger challenge, with few of us like climb a mountain. We might share a triathlon where Mel would swim, I would run, and Martha would ride a bike or something like that. I have to do something every year. For me personally, I would challenge myself every single year and I happen to be loyal to Wac Arts so why not make Wac Arts my charity. I think it’s good for your spirit, it’s good for you, and you are challenging yourself on accomplishing goals. And you can fundraise at the same time; it’s a win-win situation.

EURO ARCO is a project that not many people know about. What is it, and how it came about?

EURO ARCO is based on our ARCO projects. The philosophy that we have with our ARCO projects embedding soft skills, interpersonal, social skills, time keeping, team working, improving on learning. We work on those skills, those young people become a lot more confident, independent, and a lot more focused on their careers and education. We’ve brought the concept to Europe. We have got five partners – Cyprus, Holland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. All of these partners in European countries, all work with young people who are disadvantaged. And each organisation predominantly is involved in the Arts. One of them is involved in Sports. Their focus is on soft skills, and focusing if you could make a human being feel safe, happy, and confident – they can achieve anything they want to. Its ben inspiring to work with European partners who share so much in common and appreciate all of the cultural differences.

Anything planned for it in future?

The final project – all of us are going to meet in Rome in about two or three weeks from now to do a final celebration of the project. It’s been running for two years, and hopefully we get some more money from the ESF – (European Social Fund), and we get to do another project. It’s great because the young people get to travel as some of them are the young people who’ve never left the country. Roxy, one of our tutors who used to be earlier our student, she is coming along as well.

I would like to add, “I absolutely love working at Wac Arts. I have been here for quite a long time, and I haven’t yet met an organisation who supports me in the same kind of way. I am very happy to support Wac Arts. There’s a welcoming feeling in the air and that’s what we want for our young people”.