Johnson is 19 and has suspected but undiagnosed learning difficulties. His mother supports the family alone whilst facing financial challenges and living in inadequate, damp accommodation. The family had been socially isolated with no local friends or family, and Johnson had no communication with peers outside of lessons during the pandemic.
How did School-Home Support Help, Johnson
Johnson and his mum were referred to Amanda Chalk after Markfield raised a Safeguarding Alert due to concerns regarding their finances and security at home. Mum expressed anxiety in discussions about money and Johnson displayed worries about his physical health and food. Covid has meant a limited chance of pursuing the need for social interaction. Amanda has also arranged for mum to attend parent drop-ins at Markfield so she could get to know other parents. Additionally, regular visits from Amanda presented both mum and Johnson opportunities to open up.
The Welfare Fund has been a crucial practical tool for the family. They have benefitted from a new cooker to ensure Johnson can eat more nutritious foods, in addition to a mobile phone to help mum stay in contact with multiple support streams. No contact could be made for up to five months last year because Mum had lost her phone – she could not afford to replace it and there was anxiety about answering the door to an unfamiliar person. Amanda completed a Welfare Fund application and supported mum in understanding how to register a repair with Homes for Haringey and explored setting up an online account. A referral was made to Income Max to check the family could access all entitled income. Having a new phone has meant that Mum can now confidently reach out when they need support, and she has been able to contact relevant professionals herself.
Improving Johnson’s BMI
Johnson’s low BMI of 16 was under review at an eating disorder clinic. Amanda has recognised that his eating habits were typical of someone with ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) and he has become visibly distressed at the nutritionist’s animal-based food recommendations. To improve his diet and relationship with food, Amanda collaborated with him to create a food poster of vegetarian suggestions to gain weight and vary his diet. Improvements have been seen by his community nurse already. Johnson is willing to try new foods. There is hope of weight gain and he has developed a more positive behaviour towards discussion of his eating habits.
With their home life-improving, Johnson had the capacity to focus on his post-16 education. Amanda made contact with City and Islington College (CANDI) so that Johnson could explore his options for the next year. Discussion of options ahead of time has reduced his anxiety and enabled him to successfully engage in conversations about the future, including his request to consider independent living in the near future which is a huge personal achievement for Johnson.
The family are working with services to improve aspects of their daily living and re-engage with Markfield social networks. Johnson has improved communication skills and a better understanding of others personal space. Amanda also delivered a workshop on family spending and budgeting to reduce financial anxiety. Now, they have better money management, talk to each other about finances and write out expenses each month. Their knowledge, skills and resilience have increased significantly thanks to helping from Amanda and they are now more capable of dealing with anxiety and living more healthily.
‘Thank you for supporting me to get a new phone and for visiting us to see if we are ok. Johnson is able to speak with you too and we didn’t know how to ask for help with things because we don’t have any other family around.’ – Johnson’s Mum.