Case studies

Initial Presentation

A arrived at our placement during a difficult time in her life. A was a child at high risk of CSE and drug exploitation and was described as the girlfriend of a major drug dealer of Basingstoke. This drug dealer came from London and was a member of a gang called RJ, he used intimidation, coercion and controlling behaviour and tried to ensure that A was in money debt by continually giving her £300 pay offs.

Both SW and Police felt A was in significant risk of harm during her pervious placement due to adult men turning up at the placement trying to get A to go with them.

A would often go missing from her placement, putting herself at risk, it was at this point SW found her a placement with Sportfit.

Progression

When A first arrived at Sportfit it was clear her boyfriend still had a massive hold on A.  Often A would try to abscond from placement and staff would have to be vigilant at all times, of A's whereabouts.   A boyfriend sent males to try and collect A from her placement and to take her back to Basingstoke, with the staffs’ hard work and keeping track of A the males never came to the home or in contact with A.

A trying to abscond continued to happen for a few months but due to staff being retaining vigilance A would often be stopped at the train station or followed by staff.

After being in Sportfit for several months A finally cut all ties with her boyfriend, without this hold on A she soon begun go start looking to her future and possibly attending college.

After all of A and the staff’s hard work A came off of her CSE plan and was looking to move to Bournemouth and attend Bournemouth University.

Present

A has now left Sportfit and is living in Bournemouth and is attending Bournemouth University. A has a really bright future ahead of her and can’t wait to start her career as a Solicitor.

Initial Presentation

Young man A aged 16 was placed with Sportfit Short Break Care after a placement breakdown due to an alleged animal cruelty incident and due to a very disturbed behaviour involving detailed plans of people abduction and torture. The plans were discovered in his room during a room search conducted by the staff members at his previous placement.

After his placement breakdown he came to Sportfit as an emergency care placement with high risk of harm to others and animals, CSE, absconding, poor communication skills and serious mental health concerns with low to no aspirations. Initially A was placed in a 2:1 provision due to the above high levels of risks, without free time allowance and without access to money in hand.

Progression

As A expressed that he enjoys gym activity, the support team was specifically tailed to cover this aspect but to also provide him with a strong, positive role model as well to set up boundaries and rules. Soon, A joined a local gym and started to attend the gym with the support team on a regular basis and started to focus on the gym training, nutrition and got into a routine. Demonstrating good behaviour and due to not causing any incidents, A was granted free time which he always respected and always returned as planned and the staffing levels were dropped to 1:1.

Within 6 months from the start of his placement, A developed an interest into bodybuilding wanting and planning to become a competitive bodybuilder driven by the fast progress that he was making in the gym. A decided that he wanted to continue his education but in the leisure industry so he enrolled the Brookenhurst College to complete a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Fitness.

Although at times A found it difficult to attend all the classes, especially maths and English, he was very focused to attend and be at the best of his abilities. He was able to learn very quickly and always wanted to expand his knowledge in the bodybuilding and fitness sector. The support staff would work with him around this subject and encouraged him to continue to improve himself and to pursue his dream.

Having the staff team and management support, A gained a lot of self-confidence and for the first time in his life felt that he is good at something and developed a self-worth feeling.  His project manager, having a bodybuilding and physiotherapy background, gave him the opportunity to develop even more by teaching him biomechanics, anatomy and physiology, giving him training tips and organising training sessions at the gym

together. A learned how to cook healthy nutritious meals and how to meal prep for the week. As a reward for his good behaviour, A was offered to attend bodybuilding and strength events. On the way back from one of the events, A stated: “Coming to Sportfit and meet you guys, was the best thing that could’ve happened to me! I’ve learned and progressed more than I could’ve done in my life without your support and your willingness to show me that there was a path for me that I’ve never seen it was there for me! ”

Present

The relationships that A developed with his support staff and his placement manager helped him understand that there are people that care about him and the support that was offered to him gave him power to see himself with different eyes. A developed very good independence skills being able to communicate efficiently,   travel by himself, clean after himself, manage his money and cook. A met a girl and she became his girlfriend having a very healthy and positive relationship. After A moved on and left our care, he was offered a very nice flat and after demonstrating that he can maintain it, he was offered a contract to live for long term in that flat.

A continues to train hard and prepare to become a competitive bodybuilder as well continuing his education studying Level 3 Personal Training at the same college. A presents himself with a very mature attitude and wishes to do support work in the future so he can help other young people like him.

Initial Presentation

C arrived in the care of Sportfit on 06.06.18. We had been advised that C had been in care since the age of 4, and had numerous placements, up to 20 in a single year. She had a history of self-harm and assaulting carers and her previous placement had lasted less than a week before notice was served. The first 6 months of the year had seen her in 12 placements already. She was allowed no free time, no cash of her own and was deemed very high risk. She had poor personal hygiene and diet.

C was extremely unsettled on arrival. Being a looked after child and very vulnerable gave her little control in her life, and with a long history of failed placements C tried hard to end the placement quickly, I believe to exercise an element of control. She would rather be the person who caused the breakdown, than feel rejected and not know why.

The first 3 weeks were very difficult, with planning happening on an almost hourly basis to respond dynamically to her needs. Staffing increased in line with her risk-taking behaviours. C was self-harming from immediately on arrival, many times a day and night. Paramedics were called on an almost daily basis and staff were continuously supporting with dressing wounds. C assaulted staff and caused criminal damage to the property. She tried to set fires under staff room doors during the night, and frequently barricaded herself in the bedroom. Waking night staff were bought in early on to help support C at night and dress her wounds. She was staffed at 3:1 during the day and with waking night staff. C refused to engage with staff and seemed lost and without direction.

Progression

The staff remained patient and calm in the face of C’s behaviours, recognising the need to not leave the staffing team and to provide consistency. After the initial 3 weeks, things began to change. C realised that we were not going to serve notice, and that staff were still there for her. Although she struggled to talk about her life, she began to write letters telling staff how desperate she was feeling and that she wanted to feel safe. That she was unable to stop herself self-harming but wanted staff to try and help by coming to her room if she went off alone.

Staff followed her wishes, and the level of self-harm began to drop. C began to engage in activities, enjoying playing pool. Her need for input from staff remained very high, but staff met this head on and began to build

solid relationships with C. Through humour, empathy and experience, the staff began to make C feel safe and that this placement was a long term one for her.

Key members of staff worked with Cs project manager to implement very small goals that would not set C up for failure. C began to earn her pocket money (albeit held by staff) by washing up after each meal. Each small planned change was met with resistance by C, but soon accepted and became part of her normal routine. Staff modelled behaviour and would deliberately plan to shower before leaving the house, and soon C began to shower daily and clean her teeth.

We have worked closely with her Social Worker which has led to a strong consistent approach from all those working professionally as part of the wider team. By taking time to assess Cs behaviours, we have been able to recognise that her more challenging behaviours come as a result of fear and are able to work by reassuring her more at those times how much support she has around her.

Present

Although C still struggles to talk about her emotions, she has been song writing with the staff team, and written some emotionally complex songs about her life and family. Several weeks ago, C started education with Sportfit, and is being able to use her song writing now as part of that process. Yesterday, C requested more education sessions.

C has now been with us for less than 5 months.  She has self-harmed twice in the last 3 months, begun education and tomorrow begins to have free time.

Initial Presentation

F was placed in secure accommodation during late 2016 and early 2017. During her time in secure accommodation, it was stated that F showed some change in attitude, talked about wanting to change and be a better person. However since her release, she reverted to more pro-criminal attitudes and identity. F had a relationship with a prolific violent offender and appears to have reflected this man's attitudes, for example, justifying her behaviour on the basis that drug dealers “aren't innocent'. F's attitudes appear entrenched and she views involvement with the criminal justice system as an occupational hazard. In early 2017, the family moved back to Southampton. F’s behaviour continued to be really poor and it was clear that she was continuing to experience exploitation and sexual abuse. She was also being used as a drug runner. F’s missing episodes and disruptive behaviour escalated to a point in late September where she was removed again from her family. She has lived in care since. F is a high risk CSE survivor. She will need access to some therapeutic support/counselling service around this in placement – if close enough this could be considered to be provided through LA resources. She will need access to specialist tutoring/education resources. F has recently had a collusive/co-dependent friendship with another young person in her current placement – if being placed alongside other young people she will need to be with an individual who is not likely to be pulled in/taken alongside with her. F presents with significant emotional and behavioural difficulties which can include violence, verbal abuse and threats with weapons. She will need supportive, understanding staff who can manage this in an individualised fashion. F is open to YOS as a result of her previous offending behaviours. This has involved threats to life, assaults, threats of assaults, property damage and threats to animals. F is under a care order due to high risks of CSE and due to her behaviour putting her beyond parental control. F was placed at Sportfit in April 2018 to be nearer to her family and friends which would take her through to her 18th Birthday.

Progression

F enjoys anything that involves Beauty and spending time with her family and friends. She will do anything for her friends but sometimes that can see her in risky situations. F is a leader and everybody wants to be her friend. She is reluctant to do activities with staff as she prefers to make her own decisions on daily basis. Anything offered is declined. F has a very nice personality and is very interesting to talk to. Once she has built trust with her staff team she will share her inner feelings and thoughts. She struggles with change so consistency with her care plan is key  She works well when things are broken down to her and explained in detail or documented and put up on to a visual board. F struggled with her staff team at first but now she has

two key staff members who work back to back other than when they are on annual leave. This has helped F progress over the past 6 months.  Home contact is every other weekend at the moment. This at times has been cut due to her poor behaviour however it has since started again and Mum has agreed to increase if signed off. Positive outcome

Present

F in currently NEET and has refused to engage in an Education package with Sportfit. She would like to find a job locally but she is distracted by her friends. She had home tutoring for a period of time but that stopped as we went in to the Summer Holidays. F is currently on a YOT order until October 2019. She was on Tag for 4 weeks in September 2018 due to no attendance. During that period she decided to stop smoking Cannabis and did not drink Alcohol. This has continued after her Tag was removed. She has not been reported missing for a period of 8 weeks now showing signs that her Independence levels have improved dramatically. F needs support around her finances but other than that she is a very capable girl in the home and whilst out the community. The only thing to mention is that she is afraid of the dark so staff will often pick her up at night when she is alone. Attitude towards staff, friends and family have seen positive improvements but still requires encouragement and reminding about pending appointments. F works very well on a 1-1 provision as there are no distractions. F is very happy with herself at the moment and to be honest so are we. She has turned a corner and we are now making small but positive steps forward.

Initial Presentation

J came to us with a high level of police involvement, family breakdown, personal drug use, county line drug dealing for people higher up the criminal food chain and it was clear he was been exploited by criminals.

Progression

We housed J in a solo occupancy placement away from the area of his troubles. Initially we were able to engage him in a number of activities, improving his self-care and self-worth as we did so. Staff and he formed good relationships. At times he gravitated back to the area of known criminal associates but we maintained communication at all times and he began to spend more time at the property, tell us where he was and who he was with, and always came home at the agreed time. We spent time with his family and were a point of call for them, slowly bridging the divide between them and J. J learnt to respect the boundaries in place from us and informally learnt a great deal from the staff role models he had around him. He slowly began to maintain a healthier lifestyle, and we were able to give him the independence skills steadily that he needs. We engaged him an educational course and he worked hard with our tutor to gain entry level qualifications.

Present

J is still with us; 19 months now, not easy at any stage, but the change in him has been huge. He is currently holding down a job as a roofer; earning his own money, budgeting his own money; and goes onto our step down plan next month to see him through to his 18th birthday. The relationship with family is much improved and he respects everything in his life; most importantly he respects himself. The work done by ourselves, the police, Yott and Hampshire CC has been invaluable to him, he has a great chance of continuing to contribute positively to society.

Initial Presentation

When J arrived in our service, the two main issues we experienced were his frequent absconding, sometimes for a period of a few days at a time and his propensity to try to steal the house budgets. With  regards to the attempted theft, preventing this wasn’t too much of a challenge as staff worked hard to prevent this happening, by keeping budget on their person at all times and ensuring that the staff room and house safe was locked.

Absconding was the more difficult one to try to control, but since March this year the frequency of his missing episodes have lessened significantly. This we believe was achieved through constant reinforcement of the fact that J was to remain in contact with staff while on free time. J eventually began understood the reasons behind this and started to remain in contact with staff members who were supporting him.

Progression

J is in a really good place at present and has been since he’s started work, two months ago. J works Monday-Friday and usually leaves the house at 7.30am and returns home around 5.30pm.

With hindsight J know recognises that not having a job before meant he was constantly short of money, which led to J going out with his friends and “taking matters” into his own hands to obtain money.

J is currently employed as a roofer and within the next 12 months he hopes to be qualified in the trade and hoping that “he’ll be on more money” and will be able to progress further in his chosen career.

Present

At the beginning of his placement J said he didn’t like being with Sportfit and viewed staff members as a hindrance who simply wanted to stop him living his life and having fun. J’s views now are that this placement is the one that has help him mature him and has helped him to see the “bigger picture” in life. J is grateful for the support that he’s received in all aspects, whether it be having someone to talk to when he’s been feeling down after arguing with his mum or it being the support we gave him in the training he was required to do in order for him to obtain his job.

YP 1 – Case Study “a parents perspective”

I don't know if you will be interested or not, I’m not quite sure what your aims for the future of Sportsfit are, they may be more generally to help problem youngsters of all sorts. But it occurs to me that as you expand you might consider specialising in teens with drugs related/mental health problems.

You are having major success with my son, and there are more and more young people like him and no services to deal with it. This is where he fell through the net. You could continue to help problem youngsters and provide a service which would plug a hole in the system. It is badly needed. I was begging Social Services to put him in some sort of rehab and was told there is no such service. And then he ended up being sent to you, as a temporary placement for the time being because they had no place for him. You rose to the situation and dealt with it. Youngsters who are coming to the attention of Social Services with drugs related/mental health issues, maybe they could come to you and if you are known for dealing specifically with these problems maybe youngsters could start being referred to you earlier. Instead of being left till it is “too late" which is what happened to my son.  You have done a marvellous rescue job on him, even though by the time he came to you it was “too late”. Imagine if he had been sent to you a year earlier or even six months earlier.

My son started smoking cannabis at 13.  From 13 to 14 was the descent into addiction and mental health problems. From 14 to 15 we already had a major problem and worsening. He was experiencing paranoia, loss of motivation, aggression and theft to name but a few.  At 15 he went into care, things continued to deteriorate.  Social workers had been treating me as if I was neurotic and making it up.  Within weeks of him being in care he was isolated and on 3:1 support and terrorizing the support workers and myself.  Once he went into care another social worker took over.  She was his sister’s social worker and was aware of the situation with my son, but was powerless to help as long as he remained at home.  It wasn't her jurisdiction.

My son was originally at St Bernadette's Catholic Secondary school.  He was permanently excluded for smoking Cannabis on school grounds and should have gone to Lansdown Park Specialist Provision. I fought for him but he was instead sent on a negotiated transfer to Bedminster down Secondary, which failed (an indication that there were already problems brewing). He then returned to Lansdown and even that failed.  He was then sent to a new special school. We all felt this was a chance for him to turn things round. That rapidly failed and he was sent to Include near Temple Meads at just turned 14. There were major problems at Include and by this time I was frightened at home. I wanted him to go into care because I couldn't cope but Social Services weren't interested. I told senior management at Include what was going on at home and they intervened and were backing me with Social Services. Social Services then kicked in and provided a drugs worker (too little too late) he didn't engage. I even had to move a male friend into the house for my protection on a temporary basis. I had agreed with Social Services to keep my son at home with drugs worker and social worker support. Even my male friend was frightened. By this time he was already clearly psychotic and potentially dangerous. Then my daughter had a major accident, she was in a coma for three months. It was at this point I told Social Services there was no way I could cope with him as well as spending time with my daughter in the hospital. They still didn't budge. My friend stayed and “baby-sat” my son, while I was at the hospital. Then there was an assault on me, my friend called the police and I refused to take him back forcing him into care.

Before going into care my son was breaking into buildings under construction with his friends and using them as Cannabis smoking dens. He was stealing bikes and selling them for Cannabis. Him and his friends were stealing from their homes, including little brothers' play stations, I pods etc.… you name it they would selling anything for Cannabis money. They also were part of a large burglary, where they targeted a boy who had autism and stole laptops and an iPad.

He was also getting into fights and violent altercations. Although he never directly threatened me, there was a lot of threatening behaviour. Bending cupboard doors back on their hinges to break them if I didn't give him money, snapping wooden spoons in front of my face, pacing up and down the kitchen with scissors tucked into his hand like a weapon, waving a garden saw around and slashing clothes with it. I would give in and give him money, and then he would come back stoned, paranoid and delusional. He was seeing spiders and bugs, and demons coming through cracks in the ceiling. He thought I was lying to him and hiding things from him, it was terrifying.

After going into care he became increasingly violent. There were a string of assaults on support workers. One man had a fractured eye socket. He was punching doors through, throwing food around, he threatened a woman holding a cigarette by her eye, he smashed in my front door glass and got in, then did nothing except take a cigarette and went. One day I visited him and he threatened to punch me in the face, and then pushed me over a chair onto the floor. He was also setting fires at another care home.

At first he was at care home 1, he was then transferred to a secure unit for a few weeks. Then in another secure unit on a temporary basis. Then moved out of county, then in a placement in Wales which lasted about a week and he attacked staff again. Each time he was placed they couldn’t control his behaviours and notice was given usually with a 7 day period. His support worker was out of options and was going to send him back to secure but couldn't find a place for him, which was when he came to Sportfit.

I might not have included every single detail, but it was a catalogue of horrors. When he was at the first care home, he was being monitored by a psychiatrist who said his behaviour was compatible with the prodromal phase of schizophrenia and she prescribed risperidone for him, which he refused to take, and I was begging them to put him in a secure psychiatric unit and medicate him by force. After a catalogue of violence I was terrified that he would end up killing someone. But no-one would do anything about it.

He was a normal, actually a very lovely boy, but he's fried his brains with Cannabis.  No-one stopped him from using the Cannabis. By the time they got him a drugs worker it was way too late.  I would say by the time he was 14, certainly 14 1/2, it was already too late. He was already psychotic. And no one did anything. Apparently he wasn't “criminal" enough to go to secure long term which would have got him off the Cannabis and given him access to psychiatric services. Similarly he was too violent to go to a care home that specialised in mental health issues. At this time the stand point of the medical profession said it's his choice not to take the medication. The best they could offer was a drugs worker once or twice a week.

So why did Sportfit work for my son. Well, for starters the first thing I noticed was that Sportfit seemed to be aware that cannabis was a problem and had him on 3:1 constantly. No going out and no money.  At last thank God! Someone who knows Cannabis is a problem and actually forces him off it, I thought. Then he got desperate and stole money and got Cannabis and all hell broke loose, and Sportfit actually had the guts and gumption to recognise the problem and get him to a hospital and fight to the death to get him seen. No passing the buck.  Just get it done. Well done! And then over to the psychiatrist. This time no-one said it's his choice. This time the only choice was take it, or get sectioned. Bingo! Job done. And since then Sportfits team have stood beside him and helped him through all the difficult times. Top marks for everything they have done. Nice homely place to live, the right support workers to help him, education kicking in and activities to keep him busy and happy.  And it's working!!!!  Really they have saved him, and me. I had tried and tried and fought and fought and no one listened, no one helped, so did the Social worker, but her hands were tied by the system. Everything was can't do this, can't do that, and I had reached the point of despair. Why will no-one help my boy?  And what we did get was way too little way too late. Until he landed on Sportfits doorstep and in a matter of weeks it was done!  All the things they “couldn't" do Sportfit did it. If it wasn't for the social worker sending him to them and how Sportfit handled it, he would probably be in some horrible youth detention centre rotting and gone completely mad by now with no future. It's like a miracle.

I know there are still challenges ahead, but we are in with a fighting chance now thanks to Sportfit. He is not a monster; he's just a poor sick kid who got himself into a pickle.  And it was the Cannabis that did it. No-one listened to me in till Sportfit came along. I wouldn't wish what we've been through on anyone. Sportfit have already done something marvellous for my boy, I hope they keep going and do more for others.

Over the last few years the horrors that I have seen have left me feeling brain-dead. I don't think or feel, if I did I would go mad from despair or have a heart attack or something. My daughter brain damaged from the car accident, my boy gone mad, violent and dangerous. And now I actually dare to start hoping again due to Sportfit. I don't know if you have children. I don't know if you can imagine how much it means to me to be able to hope again.

You and your team and the social worker have been marvellous.

Many thanks and kind regards

Mum of a YP.

Initial Presentation

S came to us from a young offenders institute; HM Park. He is an out of county placement. He had served a sentence of 15 months for gang/knife crime relating to drug offences in his home city.

On arrival S was institutionalised, and in his own way unconfident about the world outside. 2 Staff worked alongside him consistently and positively, to give him the confidence to go out and act appropriately with the general public.

Progression

We worked on S’s aspirations and self-esteem, allowed and encouraged him to take great self-care, and he slowly adjusted to “normal” life. S is an excellent rapper and musician and providing studio time for him has been a channel for a past which involved disappointments and grief. He is a regular at the local gym with his staff. S has recently applied for a part time job at McDonald’s.

S enrolled on a college course providing entry level qualifications and work employability skills, and though behaviourally at times it is ongoing challenge for him, he couldn’t be putting more effort into his future, guided by his staff and Project Manager.

Present

At the time of writing S continues to progress and has been positively receiving our support for the last 4 months with a view to full independence over the next 2 years

Testimonial from a young person formerly under Sportfits care

“They helped me to start going to my meetings and sat there talking to me until I was ok. Even when they were tired and didn’t have to, they still did. They helped me through the comedowns and painful days of withdrawal, when I thought I would relapse or not be able to take it anymore.”

“After months of hard work and a few relapses. My determination to be a better person and to reach my full potential came through. I ‘am currently clean and I haven’t relapsed in over a month. I’m shortly going to take my next step in life and start becoming an adult.”

“From the bottom of my heart I thank you all. I promise to use all of the lessons I’ve learnt. I will try my hardest to overcome the many more challenges life will throw at me. And I promise to live the life I deserve and reach my full potential.”

“I will remember all the tears, the arguments and the laughter for the rest of my life.”

Thank you

Positive feedback form from a young man currently in our care – click here to view