An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has had a busy week supporting parents and their children.
Names have been changed
I begin my day with a visit to a mum Mary and her eight year old son John. Mary is 20 weeks pregnant with her second child. Today I will support the family to have contact with Mary’s two nephews aged 12 and 14 at a contact centre. Other family members are attending the contact today and the family are equally excited and nervous about seeing the boys, as it has been an extended period of time since they last had contact.
Prior to going to the contact centre, I speak with Mary about how she is doing and how the past week has been since our last meeting. Mary has acknowledged the challenges she experiences in regards to her mental health, therefore a lot of my support has been working alongside Mary to encourage and promote her emotional well-being. Part of this has been supporting her in addressing relationship difficulties that she has with her mum and her partner Matt who is currently serving a prison sentence. At times the fragility of these relationships has an impact on managing day to day, but Mary expresses she is feeling positive and looking forward to the new baby and is excited as she has found out the gender of the baby. John is very excited that he is going to be a big brother in a few months’ time.
I head back to the office to type up a housing support letter for a mum Susan, who has been experiencing significant challenges with her local housing office in regards to being rehoused. Multiple meetings and telephone calls with housing officers have taken place to promote Susan’s move, but there has been little progress made. Support letters from myself, health and other professionals are being submitted to housing to challenge their processes in support of Susan and her son’s request to be moved to a different area, given the family’s additional needs such as the poor physical health of Susan and significant experiences of domestic violence.
I leave the office for a home visit with Natalie. I call Natalie on her mobile but there’s no answer and no response at her house when I arrive. I go back to the office where I manage to get some more admin completed!
On my first home visit I meet with a mum Cherrie and her two year old daughter Lottie, who will be at home today as nurseries are off this week. Although I spoke with Cherrie yesterday and confirmed that I would be coming today, on my arrival she is getting herself and Lottie ready to head out. However, we agree to meet for a little while as I need to update her on an issue we had spoken about on the phone yesterday. Cherrie had been in a panic, as she told me there was a warrant out for her arrest, due to not appearing in court as a witness. Although I had previously resolved this issue, so she wouldn’t have to appear in court, I had to follow all this up again with telephone calls to the Sheriff Court and Crown Office. I am able to reassure Cherrie that I had confirmation that she would not have to appear in court, which eased her anxiety and worry. I am also able to share the good news that the application I made to Buttle Trust has been successful and her new cooker should arrive in the next couple of weeks.
I meet with Debbie who is staying with her parents and her two year old daughter Lara. Debbie has been out of prison for a number of months and has recently been successful in being allocated a new tenancy not far from her parents’ home. Debbie is due to get keys next week and, whilst the council have some repairs to complete, she is hopeful that she will be able to move in soon. We spend time making telephone calls regarding furniture issues, as Debbie had not been granted everything that she had requested on her welfare grants form. We are advised that Debbie will be able to appeal the decision being made. Arrangements are made for a van to collect her suite, and furnishing services have agreed to store her belongings until she gets her keys to the property and is able to move in. Before leaving we confirm plans for meeting next week.
I make some telephone calls and check emails before going on the first of two home visits today.
I arrive at home of Sandra, mum of four children who are all at home because the schools are off today. This is my last visit with the family, so it is good to be able to see everyone so I can say my final farewell. This is a really positive meeting as it is an opportunity to reflect with mum Sandra on how far the family have come over the course of time we have known each other. Sandra is glad to see me, but also a little sad that this is the last visit. Sandra’s husband John is not at home, as he is at his alcohol counselling appointment which Circle supported John in making a referral to. Sandra expresses that he is “doing fantastic” and acknowledges that she and John are communicating much better now and are doing more things together as a family. All four children have been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum; all very different, amazing and talented children. I had supported the family in being granted self-directed support, which Sandra said she had been trying to access with no success until she received support from Circle.
I will miss my visits with the family, but I let Sandra know how proud I am of all that she and her family have achieved and wish them well.
I meet with Lorna at her home and, unusually for the same day, this is my last visit with this family too as we are closing the case. Lorna has three teenage children at home, the oldest at college and the younger two at school and all doing well. Reflections of the changes that Lorna has made over the last year are central to our conversation today. Lorna has come such a long way this past year and she acknowledges that a year ago she was crippled with anxiety and couldn’t face people or even make phone calls. Now Lorna is a fully qualified mentor with Venture Trust and is motivated and excited about opportunities that may present themselves.
Lorna’s partner is due for release from prison and, although still in a relationship, Lorna is positive about her decision that he will return to stay at another family member’s home upon release. Lorna is feeling confident in who she is and feels that whilst still in a relationship, she wants to be able to protect her own space and the sense of independence she now has. Lorna is confident as mum to her children and has recently assumed care of a small baby of a family friend in agreement with family and professionals. Baby is thriving and Lorna is enjoying every moment. As a practitioner it is heartening to have a final visit with a family who have done incredibly well and to be able to affirm with Lorna how far she has come.
I attend an all-day event at a local college with a mum Natalie. I collect Natalie from home and we drop off her three year old daughter Molly with her gran, as the college event will give Natalie some time out for herself and allow her to access some of the pampering opportunities on offer. There are lots of stalls and workshops to choose from on the day and after a few hours Natalie manages to get her nails done, have a Reiki treatment and a spray tan, so she is absolutely delighted and relaxed after these treatments. We stay until the end of the event after having lunch and gathering some information leaflets on potential opportunities that Natalie may be interested in. We end the day with Natalie having a go at ‘grab a grand!’ Natalie was the only one who managed to grab all the notes…..pity it was fake money but hey ho it was a lot of fun.
The plan for today is to attend one of the local HUBS with a colleague. The HUBS are an excellent resource in supporting women involved with the criminal justice system, e.g. addictions, housing, peer support. However, after speaking with a HUB colleague it transpires that the HUB is unable to take place today as the worker who was due to facilitate the session is off. I spend the day in the office and catch up on case recordings and planning and preparation for next week.