Nikki, a single parent of two children; Amy, aged six and Danielle, aged three, was referred to me as the school were really concerned with Amy’s attendance and punctuality. Attendance was so poor that it had got to the point of the school taking legal action; they were considering issuing Nikki with a court fine.
I visited Nikki at home and noticed that their flat was very poorly furnished. The family didn’t have a dining table, meaning that Amy and Danielle sat on the floor to eat dinner and do their homework. Nikki opened up to me and talked about feeling depressed and negative, saying, “…nothing good ever happens to me. I will always be a loser.” The family were also facing eviction due to outstanding debts, which all contributed to Nikki’s poor mental health.
My first priority was to work with Nikki and the school to improve attendance. The school agreed to defer on taking legal action and gave me time to work with Nikki. My next priority was to make the family’s housing situation more stable, working with Nikki to understand and settle the family’s debts, avoiding eviction. The SHS Welfare Fund was critical to the family in breaking down barriers to learning; both the children’s schoolwork and Nikki’s mental health depended on it. Lorraine applied to the SHS Welfare Fund on behalf of the family to purchase a dining table for their living room, so the children had somewhere to comfortable to do their homework and enjoy meals as a family.
The small contribution from the Welfare Fund had a large impact on Nikki and her daughters. Nikki is happier, the girls’ attendance and attainment is improving, and the family have a positive home environment. The purchase of the dining table was also the first step in turning around Nikki’s negative mind set, showing her that good things can happen. With the support of her parents and myself, Nikki was encouraged to set about decorating her flat. Nikki says she now feels much better in herself and is much more positive, which will in turn affect Amy’s and Danielle’s attitudes later in life.
*All names have been changed.