Luke, aged 12, was often very angry and lashed out at school, so was referred to an alternative provision. Luke’s relationship with his mother, Marilyn, had deteriorated to the point that they rarely spoke – which negatively impacted on Marilyn’s health. Joan, the SHS Practitioner at an Alternative Provision (AP) school, first met Marilyn and Luke when they attended an interview with the School Referring Officer. It was suggested to Marilyn that whilst her son received mentoring through the school, it would be a good idea if she accepted one-to-one support from SHS. Marilyn jumped at this opportunity and said yes immediately.
Joan has a unique approach to help parents understand what their problems are and break them down into small manageable chunks…
Joan: “Marilyn was overwhelmed and previously had not received any support. Marilyn’s family had turned their back on her because of Luke’s aggressive and unruly behaviour. My first approach was to sit down with her to get all of the issues and problems that she had stored in her head down on paper. As an ice-breaker, I pulled out a sheet of paper with an elephant on it made up of lots of squares and in each box, wrote down the barriers to resolving each of the problems. Each point was used as part of an action plan and I asked Marilyn what she thought the biggest issues were so that we could focus on that and find resources to resolve it.”
Marilyn and her son are in temporary accommodation and share a cramped room on the top floor of a converted multi-storey building. They do not have a table where they can eat meals or for Luke to do homework. When Marilyn was previously employed, she had to continuously take time off work to respond to calls from the school about her son’s behaviour and eventually had to leave her job. As a proud woman, Marilyn has struggled to navigate through the benefits system and faced a six-week wait to receive Universal Credit.
Marilyn: “My son just didn’t talk and kept everything in, but he opened up to Joan and told her when something happened and why it happened. I discussed elephant goals and achievements with Joan to break down what I wanted to achieve. Joan also recommended that I spend 30 minutes of ‘special time’ each day with my son, so that we could build a bond – this has really changed our relationship.
“Working with Joan is the first time that I have ever received any help with Luke. She has helped me to put things in place – things are so much better at home as I have better ways to deal with difficult situations. The support I have received from Joan has meant a lot and she really helps me with my issues. I now feel that I can cope and have a much better relationship with my son. I know that I can phone or text at any time and she will always get back to me.”
Luke’s behaviour continues to be challenging – as the youngest student in this Alternative Provision school, he has continued to be non-compliant in the school environment. Luke’s Mum is terrified that he will be excluded from what is considered to be his last chance of school.
Joan: “I will continue to support this family with the aim of getting Luke the education that he deserves and needs. Luke has an aversion to the medical profession, but I am working towards getting him assessed by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and to visit a counsellor regularly. His mother is bidding for appropriate council housing which I am sure will help to improve their relationship if they have space to breathe! Marilyn has now secured a new job and is waiting for her DBS check to come through, which is definitely a sign that their lives are improving.”