Gemma came to Acorns aged fourteen. Gemma’s family history included neglect, physical and psychological abuse with a suspicion of sexual abuse yet unconfirmed.
Gemma came into care aged nine, accessing both foster care and children’s home provision. Following a safeguarding issue within her current placement, Gemma was placed at Acorns with a view to accessing our therapeutic support.
Gemma had ADHD and regularly demonstrated risk taking behaviours. Gemma came to Acorns with criminal convictions for shop lifting, destruction of property and drug and alcohol misuse in the community. Gemma had not been in full time education for some time and was known to abscond from both previous homes and schools. Our placement focussed on providing support with engagement in education and regular therapeutic support to reduce the risk taking behaviour, drug and alcohol issues and missing from care incidents.
Gemma had attachment problems due to her early life experiences. Gemma presented with an anxious/avoidant attachment style.
Gemma initially had some contact with family members but due to the complex nature of these relationships, contact was often sporadic.
Gemma took time to settle at Acorns and was very mistrusting of all adults. Gemma had low self-esteem and due to her ADHD she often exhibited poor impulse control.
Gemma could be both verbally and physically aggressive. Gemma initially struggled with attending school and would be disruptive whilst there to avoid the learning process.
Gemma initially refused to attend therapy aimed at building her emotional resilience.
Despite initial difficulties, Gemma did settle with time. She allowed staff to support her to engage in school.
The home helped Gemma to limit her risk taking behaviour by encouraging her to develop more appropriate activities and by setting clear expectations and boundaries with her. Unconditional positive regard, a nurturing environment and consistent care aided Gemma with her low self-esteem and emotional difficulties. Gemma agreed to access therapy with the support of staff, who attended alongside her in particular sessions. This also supported in the development of self-worth, identity and emotional resilience.
Staff supported Gemma with an independence programme to help her to develop and understand the responsibilities of living an independent adult life.
Gemma remained at Acorns to complete her GCSE courses and was accepted into a local college. Gemma also developed enough emotional resilience to rebuild a ‘good enough’ relationship with her mother and Gemma ceased her risk taking behaviours. Gemma later successfully transitioned into semi-independent living within the local area, following the completion of her college course. This was Gemma’s choice and her semi-independent living remains successful to date.
Emma arrived at Lyth Hill when she was ten years old and had experienced significant trauma and a family breakdown. Emma had insecure attachments with the adults in their life, she had a diagnosis of ASD and had withdrawn from any form of education over a prolonged period.
The care team at Lyth Hill focused on developing Emma’s identity as a starting point for them to begin the foundations of forming positive relationships. Over the first twelve months, small goals were set and then achieved, with the sole purpose of enhancing Emma’s self-esteem and outlook on the world. Home tutoring was put in place and through the resilience of the team and the in-house teacher.
Emma began slowly accepting and enjoying the process of learning again.
Within a further six months Emma was on roll at a local mainstream secondary school and surprised everybody by requesting a full timetable instead of the transition plan proposed. By remaining available and consistent during these significant hurdles, the team saw Emma flourish and gain in confidence month by month.
Examples of these milestones included attending a salon with a carer to have her hair styled, performing in a school pantomime in front a large audience and going abroad on a school trip without carers accompanying her.
Emma remained with us at Lyth Hill for a further twelve months and through the work of the team and her social worker she recognised that she felt ready to consider a foster family. This process was taken steadily at a pace that Emma felt comfortable with. Throughout this period a number of foster carers were considered but did not match with Emma’s identified needs. This message of wanting to find the right carers for Emma reaffirmed that all involved cared for her and were determined to find carers that would meet her needs.
Emma has now successfully transitioned to her new home and is a happy and talented young person who possesses the skills required to cope with the difficulties life can present.
Both the young person’s Social Worker and IRO have rated the placement as ‘outstanding’ and made the following comments: “Lyth Hill have done an amazing job supporting Emma. They have helped her grow in confidence and have significantly raised her self-esteem.” – Social Worker
“I am very impressed with the way Lyth Hill staff have prepared Emma for her future foster placement and how they have worked with the family and parents.” – Independent Reviewing Officer
At 10 years old, Taylor arrived at Stamford House and began to thrive. She wasn’t going missing, wasn’t taking drugs and wasn’t climbing out of windows! Taylor lived at Stamford House until she was 17, when she was supported to move into her own flat. She has since had her first baby and is just about to start driving lessons. Here is a letter Taylor wrote to Stamford House in August 2019;
“This card isn’t only for the staff that worked at Stamford House while I lived there but for all the staff before and after. Without the work you do, children like me wouldn’t have the chance to blossom like I did nor have the opportunities you have given me.
You lead with so much compassion, love and honesty. You make Stamford House a HOME and not just a ‘care home’. People often say to me “Oh bet it was hard growing up in care”, truth be told the second I walked through the doors I felt at home. I felt love, compassion, warmth, kindness, and support which is more than I have ever felt. It’s not the building that makes it home, it’s all you staff.
You are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I often tell people that coming to Stamford House was the best thing that ever happened to me and I still stick by it to this day.
You have taught me so many things, love, compassion, compromise, self worth, self respect, respect for others, to appreciate everything you’ve got, how to work hard, self-discipline and most importantly how to love!
Family Care are so lucky to have you all working for them. You’re all a credit to yourselves, Family Care and your families.
Thank you for everything you have taught me, helped me with, looking after me, supporting me, making me laugh, John with his stupid Jokes lol, and for all the life skills you have taught me. There has been many tears sheaded, laughs, smiles, a few arguments but it has all be worth every minute of it.
You watched me grow from that little girl with hair down her back with a red little bag to becoming a mum for the first time. You all hold a very special place in my heart and always will.”
Lots of love Taylor xxx
Andrew was described as having Autism and severe learning difficulties when he came to live at Links in 2012. Initially Andrew was unable to communicate effectively.
However, through support and guidance from the staff team at the home, the Speech Therapy team, the Educational team at his school and his parents, Andrew has grown to understand simple verbal instructions, responding to requests and questions in an appropriate manner.
When Andrew first came to live at Links he was on an additive free diet, despite there being no medical conditions attached to this diet. Menus were adapted in order to accommodate Andrew’s needs. Over time, Andrew trialled school dinners as a way of introducing foods containing additives back into his diet. In 2013, Andrew was introduced to a completely normal diet due to the success of school dinners and he now continues to eat a healthy and well balanced diet of different foods, some of which contain additives.
During his time at Links, Andrew has learnt to walk with a member of the staff team semi-independently. Andrew has gone from being risk assessed as a 2:1 in the community to now being a 1:1 when ‘out and about.’ Andrew now walks alongside a member of staff without the need to be held or restricted (apart from when crossing roads or being out in heavily populated areas).
Andrew enjoys a busy social life outside of school; trampolining on a Monday, football on a Tuesday and swimming every other Friday. He regularly visits food and drink establishments and generally copes very well with the distractions of the environment. Andrew has enjoyed many holidays whilst living at the home, including several week long adventure holidays in the Lake District and school trips. Andrew’s family also now feel more confident in their ability to take him on holiday themselves.
Throughout Andrew’s time at Links he has maintained positive and meaningful contact with his family,returning home for overnight visits and every other weekend whenever possible.
Andrew has matured into a wonderful young man with great promise and potential for growth and development.
Andrew recently moved to a similar provision locally as an adult. The staff team at Links have high hopes for Andrew for the future and believe that with consistency, time and patience he will continue to further develop into adulthood as the young man that we will all be so proud of.