As told by Tyler’s SHS Practitioner
16-year-old Tyler was referred to me by his tutor at college. He was quite new at the college but seemed agitated and worried. The tutor had noticed that he was constantly clutching his bag and was finding it difficult to settle in. Tyler and his 14-year-old sister had only recently arrived in the country with their step-mother. Their father was already living in London and has a number of children with different women. When they arrived at their father’s house, he told them that they would not be able to stay and sent them to live with a half-brother they had never met. The bag that Tyler was constantly clutching contained both their legal and immigration documents. This was – quite simply – all they had.
Their half-brother registered Tyler at college and his sister at school but could no longer afford to feed them. Tyler disclosed that they were currently sleeping in the stairwell outside of the flat and they had nowhere to go. Tyler felt very responsible for his sister and the stress and anxiety was clearly taking a huge emotional toll on him. Two of his father’s other children were of a similar age and while he had not met either of them, he discovered one of them was in his class at college. This only heightened the anger that Tyler felt towards his father and his sense of abandonment. In spite of his personal hardship, his priority was his sister and he was enormously grateful that he had found someone who would listen.
I calmly assured Tyler that I would work with the college to get him help. The first step I took was to contact the Triage team at social services with all the relevant information to begin the referral process. I also referred him to the MASH team to determine which agencies should be involved. I contacted the secondary school that his younger sister was attending and reached out to his half-brother to verify some of the details. I made sure that Tyler and his sister were allocated assessment and I kept him informed as to what was happening. The college was Tyler’s only consistent and stable base of support throughout this period and therefore amazingly his attendance was 100%. Tyler’s father approached Tyler after college and demanded his legal documents so that he could claim further financial support for Tyler and his sister. Tyler was reluctant to relinquish the documents as he felt they were the only proof he had that he and his sister belonged here. I made copies of his documents but Social Care informed him that he would have to return to ‘the family home’ while the assessment was taking place. This meant returning to his father which Tyler was so reluctant to do he spent one night walking the streets.
While the assessment with social care was taking place, I checked in with Tyler every morning and recorded over 40 one-to-one meetings across this period. Once the official assessment had happened, I worked with social services to carry out a family support intervention with Tyler’s father to remind him of his parental responsibility. We were able to reach a compromise where Tyler would live with his half-brother and his sister would live with a half-sister but they would both receive financial support from their father. Tyler’s attendance continued to be 100% except now with a stable home he was able to properly engage with his education. Despite living in separate homes Tyler is still able to see his sister three times a week. Tyler’s sister is at a school that does not currently have an SHS practitioner but because we were able to support Tyler she now has a stable home and consistent financial support. Tyler is progressing well at college and recently stood for election to the college student committee. The obvious weight that Tyler had been carrying with him has been lifted and it is fantastic to see him growing in confidence and reaching his true potential.