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
Starting in the office, I prepare some material for my first visit, using some children’s wellbeing tools to help a mum understand the impact that her drug use will have on her two young children, 2 years old and 8 months old. On arriving at Sandra’s I can see she’s doing well having increased her methadone script and sticking to this. We go over the material together, looking at how children can recognise drug use from a young age, even if they don’t know what the problem is. We also talk about how often children are told to keep quiet the more they know and understand, and how this may result in children not trusting adults and finding it hard to maintain relationships as they grow older. Sandra is anxious about having to attend court, as she will see her ex partner who was abusive. I will support her to attend court to make this easier.
After lunch and making a few calls to confirm appointments for later this week, I chair a stage two assessment meeting for Julie, who has an eating disorder and cannabis habit. Professionals and Julie agree that things could be better so plans are made for Circle to support mum with routines for six year old Lisa, who often doesn’t go to sleep until midnight and as a result is very tired and struggling at school. Julie has been to her GP who has referred her to an eating clinic. James, Lisa’s 10 year old son, has now agreed to meet one-to-one with me. This will give us time to chat in confidence and allow me to support James to have his say regarding house rules, routines etc. Both children have attended and are enjoying the young carers’ club.
I visit a new dad who has been referred to Circle for support. Doing an initial assessment with him shows that the main focus of support will be a recovery plan, helping him to understand better the potential impact of his drug use on his two girls, introducing time management and thinking about activities for his seven year old to try. I explain to Dave the “consent to share” form, but he doesn’t want to sign it as he doesn’t want other people knowing his business. He is happy however, for me to speak with the children’s social worker and to speak to him first before I talk to any other parties. He tells me he’s using at least a £10 bag of heroin weekly, so we talk about different approaches to manage his addiction, including the substance misuse service, which he’s not keen on.
I then head to a local school for a one-to-one session with Liam, whose mum has recently moved out of the family home due to her alcohol problem. We use the “Rory” storybook to help Lewis understand his mum’s drinking problem and to explore how he feels about it. Liam loves this book and is able to relate the story to him and his mum. Liam says he’s worried that mum will come to the house drunk and upset everyone. We use drawing to talk about the supported accommodation where mum’s staying, and how the staff there can help mum with her alcohol problem. Liam wants mum to get better before she comes home. We then go to the local park to play football for a while before taking him home.
Before heading home, I call Julie again to remind her to pick up the forms from the dentist so she can register the kids and get their teeth checked. James was complaining about toothache!
I meet with Andy at the gym. He is stable on his medication and enjoying being a new dad. He’s keen to get back into a routine if attending the gym so we’re going together for a while, until he feels more confident. We have a coffee and a chat afterwards. His partner has mental health problems (they don’t live together just now) and he’s concerned about how able she is to look after their son, as they share contact at the moment.
I then visit Zara and help her fill in a referral form for a parenting course, “Parenting Teenagers”. Zara talks about how she wants to be a mum to her teenage daughter Claire again, rather than just a friend. She wants to be a good parent and not feel bad about disciplining her daughter, so we talk about how she can start to put things back in place. It can be tricky as Claire lives with her Gran at the moment but Zara hopes to have her back in her care full time. She wants Gran to support her to make consistent decisions/disciplines concerning Claire, so there’s no confusion for Claire regarding what’s expected of her. Claire’s not doing her homework so we talk about getting a better routine in place so she can get it done on time every week. Zara says she’ll start checking with the school each week re homework.
I head back to the office to make a few calls and write up some case notes.
I attend our monthly team meeting which includes some planning for our summer outing for our families – probably a beach picnic. All agree a bake sale is a good idea to raise some money for the picnic. We’ll also try to get some donations from Tesco’s and Greggs the bakers.
I then head off for a one-to-one session with Adam, 12, who loves football so we play in the local park for a bit and then go to a local cafe for juice. He’s doing ok and happy with the plan we put in place between him and his grandparents who he lives with, which helped them look at boundaries, respect, rewards and discipline. Adam is being more respectful and helpful around the home which means he has more freedom to go out with his friends. He’s remembering to take his phone with him – part of the agreement!
After dropping Adam off I have a chat with his grandparents about how things are going. They have seen an improvement in his behaviour. However, contact with mum is not great and Adam doesn’t want to see her just now. He talks about her making promises to him then letting him down. I explain that his mum has asked to meet with me so hopefully we can find a way forward.
In the morning I attend a core group meeting for Andy, his partner and baby. Wee Blair is coming on well and there are no concerns about his development. Mum and dad are communicating better which means contact has been more consistent, which is good for Blair. Mum has changed her medication and is feeling better. She looks a lot better. Andy wants to continue attending the gym, although some weeks he works now. We agree that although Andy’s doing well with his drug use, it would do no harm for him and I to look again at his triggers and coping skills.
I then meet with a new referral, Emma, 13, who for much of her childhood, looked after her dad who has a drink problem, and her six year old brother. Dad no longer lives at home and is up and down with his drinking. Her dad’s drinking still has an impact on Emma and she wants support to talk things through. She feels no one understands what she’s had to deal with over the years. We agree to meet fortnightly as she has other things on such as teaching guitar and helping with Rainbows.
I then head back to the office to plan my diary for next week, respond to emails and write up case notes. I also speak with a few social workers about concerns I have for some families.