Sally, 9 years was referred to the Young Carers Project in 2009. She was referred by the Social Work Access Team. The family were at crisis point and were having difficulties as their daughter was being violent towards her mother and she was refusing to go to school. The girl believed she was in control of the house and her mother, due to the fact her mother was ill and her father worked away from home much of the time. Her mother has Multiple Sclerosis.
When the key worker first met with Sally for 1:1 support, she did not want to tackle the more serious issues in terms of her goal setting and instead chose goals such as meeting new people, learning to tie shoe laces and improving brushing teeth. She did however agree to discuss her attendance at school. Sally was very keen to engage and attempted her goals with much enthusiasm. She also started to attend the weekly social group where she made new friends. Her mother was also referred to the projects’ Family Support Worker. Soon after 1:1 support started, Sally’s school attendance improved and over time, her aggression towards her mother stopped, as she agreed to complete anger management work.
A few months later, Sally’s school attendance deteriorated again and she was refusing to go to school. Trust had been built up with the key worker though and Sally was more open to discussing the issues she was having. Sally had said she was not going to school due to her having a sore stomach in the morning. 1:1 discussions the key worker helped Sally unravel possible reasons for this.
Sally had internalised her worry and anger, which had turned into long term stress, which was displaying itself through stomach pains. The reason for this was worrying about her mum. When the key worker discussed this with the Sally’s mum she was shocked. Neither Sally nor her mum had been able to recognise this as they were both entrenched in the situation. At first her mum did not believe this to be the case but through discussion between her mum, her key worker and Sally, Sally was able to express this to her mum. Sally was worried that her mum would become ill and have no one to call on for help. This meant that Sally did not want to leave her mum when going to school. She also revealed that she was worried her mum may have to go back to hospital for a long time again, as when she was aged 4/5/6 her mum had gone into hospital for 7 months.
Plans were put in place to address these issues such as Sally phoning home from school, her mum getting a community alarm and stress management for the family. Sally has reported feeling an increase in both her confidence and self esteem since engaging with the project. This work is ongoing.