Wow, when you hold your case load you will have an emergency and it can make life exciting; managing the crisis and putting in interventions to return everything to calm. When you manage social workers and there is a multiple crises you really learn how to tread water.
However, this week I have been able to work on something different. In our little Authority gang culture, is still unheard of (at least not in any news worthy way yet). Young People who hang about on the street corner or the odd scout troop putting on a gang show! Youth crime happens, young people abscond, hang out, fight and get drunk.
But Gang land activity, risk of Death, Serious Crime, Post Code fighting is all new. As an experienced worker my only knowledge of this has been through shared experience with other workers and good assessment skills.
The Young Person had recently been a victim of “mistaken identity” as a result, his injuries left him in hospital and needing his jaw fixed. The reality of what life is like as Gangs take hold. Vulnerable Looked After Children placed in unregulated placements become vulnerable to fast money, drugs, and older stronger youths who often themselves lived in these placements recruiting the next residents. To run their drugs, take part in organised crimes and allow their homes to be used to hide out in when needed.
In this case his name was being used in crimes, his address used for a safe house. The downside his face was kicked in. His defence “it was a mistake, they did not want me!” Yet he believes strongly that he is not involved in gang activity. He hopes to complete college, he hopes to marry his girlfriend and leave behind this activity.
His own emotional well being is low due to early child experiences living in a war torn country, not knowing if his brothers and uncles family is still alive.
For me, it made me look at what I thought I knew and trusted. It showed me that even if you thought life was difficult it often is even harder for someone else.
The young person described his situation as if he was within one big family. His ‘bruvers’ would look after him. If he needed help they would be there! A community that looked out for each other, supported each other. As he describes what is happening and living where he is it raises my anxieties even further. Yet the pull is so strong, the fear of leaving the fear of reprisal to great the need to belong preventing him from escaping this and starting again!