Luka (9) and Dejan (4) were first referred to me because of concerns about their poor attendance and lack of uniform. When I spoke to their mum, Kalina, I discovered that there were a number of difficulties at home affecting the whole family.
Kalina was isolated and depressed. Language barriers were preventing her from being a part of the local community and meant she was unable to access medical care. On top of this, there were concerns about domestic violence, and the control exerted by Kalina’s husband.
I knew there were services which could help the family, so began to help Kalina; firstly by agreeing a plan to communicate via text to keep the whole family safe. I also arranged a referral to a specialist domestic violence support service in our borough.
I attended a GP appointment with Kalina to help her overcome the language barrier and her lack of confidence. This was the first step in the family accessing physical and mental health care. Kalina now takes medication which is enabling her to better cope with her depression, and we’ve also succeeded in getting referrals to both the Talking Therapy serviceand the hospital. I’m really pleased that Kalina has access to this care, especially because it means she is now able to focus on Luka and Dejan’s needs and work with me to make sure they’re in school and able to learn .
Kalina and I worked together to liaise with social care and staff at school who could support Luka and Dejan, and keep them safe. Crucially, the SHS Welfare Fund allowed us to purchase uniforms for both Luka and Dejan so they now have warm clothes for school – this has boosted their self-esteem, and encouraged them to feel proud to be pupils at their school.
Meanwhile, the relationship I formed with Kalina and her sons, and the links we had made with local organisations, meant that Kalina’s partner also began to engage with services offering him support for his anger and his drinking. This was really encouraging, as it suggested the situation at home might drastically improve.
Kalina is now engaged with the school, attending and volunteering at our events which means she is far less isolated. Kalina told me: “I am very happy. My children are safe, I am safe and I am making friends. People care and listen to me now”.
All we have done has also had a significant impact on Luka and Dejan. Luka told me: “Things are better at home – my dad doesn’t drink a lot anymore.”
Best of all, Luka and Dejan’s school attendance is now much improved. Their futures now look bright, and I’m looking forward to seeing them reaching their full potential.
*Names have been changed