Would I want to be young again, I wonder? It amazes me every year we hear that the GCSE grades are getting better because the exams are becoming easier. Yet, does this really say what is happening.
In my experience I have been fortunate enough to have never been out of work, homeless or destitute. But like many young people I do wonder what would happen if I did not have a job, or a skill I could sell to potential employers. In fact without my social work qualification I think I would be in great danger of struggling to find work in today’s work market.
Working with young people in care has made me more aware of the difficulties that many people especially young people find in looking for work. Placements, transports, contact, support are all areas that could affect the emotional well-being of the young people to stay employable.
There have been many schemes that try to get people back into work and the latest promotes work experience as a way of giving valuable experience in a work place. However, this has come with a well publicised criticism and most of which has been fair.
We have yet seen from this government a positive approach to enabling young people to return to work. I doubt that we will see anything meaningful until confidence is restored in employers to meaningfully recruit and expand their business again.
For young people more support is needed in helping develop their own understanding of the work market. Time dedicated in developing their own interests and knowledge so that as business shrink into the Web and out of the high streets. Young people can challenge the business markets and create their own work. Maybe if more vulnerable young people such as care leavers are encouraged to work with organisations such as the Prince’s trust their mentoring scheme could help develop this.
Or if you are someone who could help young vulnerable people develop confidence and skills needed to find work offer your help to the Prince’s Trust mentoring scheme.
Have you ever wondered when you become an Adult and when your Childhood finishes. Is there a date? a time? maybe a place. I still struggle to work out whether I have succeed in growing up? But for the young people we work with that are in Care, this decision is made for them. The choice made by law. For many an age that is counted down from the day the Care Order is granted, and often for the wrong reasons.
This week I have supported one such Young Person as her 18th Birthday draws closer. A likeable young woman who has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. Who as a child was sexually abused by a family friend, and neglected by her parents. And as she grew older, developed an attention seeking personality for the emergency services.
This Young Person frequently self harms through cutting, and tying ligatures or taking an overdose. All of which would always be done out of hours in order to be seen by the Police or Ambulance service. A misunderstanding of the Care that they provided, and a care that she feels that she is not receiving and craves from her parents.
With such little time left to her 18th Birthday, and a lack of engagement with the local CAMH’s Service was not leaving a lot of options for this Young Person to receive help and address her concerns, preventing her to live safely. The reason why this is important is that at 18 she will be in a twilight age to old for Child Services and to young for Adult Services.
In order to make these last few months in care work, I asked for a multi professional meeting to be arranged with the Young Person to be involved. The aim of the meeting was to encourage the Young Person to develop her own Pathway Plan. A plan of how she will successfully Leave Care.
In arranging this meeting it gave an opportunity for the Young Person to share with her parents her feelings, about what she has been doing. A chance for them to hear the pain she suffers and why. An opportunity for this to be done in a safe manner, to offer support to both parents and the young person. The advantage being that the Professionals could then add the support that they could offer to the young person and her parents. Similar to a Family Group Conference but with less family and friends.
The meeting was fraught, and there was a lot of anger and tension from both the young person and her parents. However, I was proud of the Young Person and noticed the confidence that I had seen develop over the months; as she spoke in front of everyone. I also acknowledged that she remained present through out the whole meeting often listening to difficult comments about herself. When I reminded her of this I could see a smile on her face and her confidence grow as a result.
For many young people 18 will always be too soon to leave Care, especially when support is needed. But the level of support required is not enough for Adult Mental Health Services. And with a shaky agreement to try group work therapy to help address issues and coping mechanism. There was a positive outcome to this meeting and there is still time to help prepare her for what might be available post 18. More importantly rebuild and re establish relationships with her family, that the young person holds important to her.
I know for myself at 18 I had left home, and I was looking after myself. However, this was my choice and I had my family. Further more my mental health was good. For this young person it may not be as easy but she has been given the choice, and an opportunity to take the help one last time before she turns 18. So far it has been 5 days since she has last self harmed………