David, aged 5, and his mum, Tina, were referred to me as David was finding it really hard to leave Tina in order to come into school. Both Tina and David were getting very upset at the school gates, and Tina had asked for some support.
The first thing I did was to arrange a series of home visits with Tina, so that I could find out what else was going on that might be causing their distress. It became clear that Tina’s ex-partner was abusive and was causing problems for the family.The violence had caused Tina to become anxious and David to become frightened of being without his mum. He was also sleeping poorly, which made it harder for him to concentrate at school.
Once I understood what the family was going through, it became easier to tackle David’s issue at school. I run a series of parenting workshops at the school and invited Tina to come along so that she could learn some techniques to improve her confidence with David. We talked through ways for Tina to manage David’s sleep routine too, which improved as a result. I also referred Tina for counselling, so that she could work through her own issues around her ex-partner, and shared information from charity Gingerbread on managing Christmas as a single parent, as this was causing her to worry. Finally, I referred Tina to a local domestic violence hub, where she could receive more general support as a survivor of domestic abuse.
Throughout all of this it became clear that Tina and David’s housing situation was also causing Tina anxiety, as her ex-partner knew where she lived. I sent a letter supporting Tina to the local housing department and advised her regarding housing benefit and discretionary housing allowance. The family were subsequently moved to a new home, which made them feel much safer. The domestic violence hub referred Tina to a solicitor, who she received additional support from, and she now informs the police when her ex becomes threatening.
In addition to attending my parenting workshops, Tina also started going to the coffee mornings I run for parents at the school. As a result, she now has a support network of friendly parents, and is much more confident. David also now comes into school with no difficulty. Overall, they’re a much happier family.
*All names have been changed