Project type: Case Studies

Debbie’s story

Before we met her in June, Debbie had spent two years living on the streets, sofa surfing and riding night buses as far as she could to keep warm and sleep. When she was given temporary accommodation by Bexley Council during the Covid lockdowns, her daughter helped her reach out to us to support her into a long term home.

Opening Doors Programme

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Carly" said Debbie.

Temporary accommodation wasn’t easy either, being isolated and unable to go out to visit friends. When Carly began working with her Debbie also had some arrears from a previous landlord, and wasn’t on the social housing register bidding for properties. Carly supported Debbie to with Income Recovery teams to arrange repayments and make sure they were manageable, as well as getting her a bidding number for social housing and applied to Homechoice.

As well as providing an important listening ear for Debbie, Carly was also able to support her as she struggled with alcohol, something that Debbie is doing her best to manage herself. “There is a project for drinkers that people were telling me to go to and I said I would go if that’s what it takes, but I knew It wouldn’t be a good because I would see people I knew before, and Carly understood that. She never forced me.”

Meanwhile, Carly sought out a flat for Debbie in the private sector that met the needs she raised with us – accessible, because of her health, and on a bus route so that she would be able to see her family in Bexley. “She really took everything into consideration for me”, for example making sure her first floor flat had hand rails so she could get up the stairs easily. Carly and James supported Debbie to prepare everything she needed for the lease and moving in, and with the help of her daughter and a man with a van, Debbie was finally moving into a place of her own. “Carly came with household cleaners, and hand wash, shower gel, you know, just a few things like that. It was really thoughtful. James was running around all over the place, picking up furniture and helping to put it together. They have gone really out of their way.” Carly also successfully applied for a grant from Wavelength to get her a TV, which Debbie really appreciated.

caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right

She has been there for me 100% and I really sad now that she is going. Carly is like a mate – and a clever one. I can talk to her about anything and she never looks at me badly. She always reassures me.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her." said Debbie.

Now that she is settling into a new home of her own, Debbie is relieved but still worries about the future. “I feel good to be in a home, a permanent place. But I feel scared too, because there are still things that need sorting out; I’m scared to out for a cigarette in case I lock myself out so I feel a bit confined.” Debbie is yet to meet a housing support officer, and has not had heating in the flat since she moved in. “Last night I put on the hobs to take the chill off coz I was so cold, and it set the smoke alarms off after 10 minutes”.

What’s more, her benefits switched over to Universal credit and there is a delay in the payment. Carly arranged to get it backdated cover her until December, paid directly to the landlord and increased her income by over £250.

It will still be very tight though, especially when the winter properly sets in. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I start paying for the heating, I already pay around £30 for electric and I’m going to have to be careful how I spend until December”.

Now that our support is winding down, Carly and James will be handing over to her housing officer and support workers so she can sustain her tenancy. “I don’t know what I would have done without her. She has been there for me 100% and I really sad now that she is going. Carly is like a mate – and a clever one. I can talk to her about anything and she never looks at me badly. She always reassures me.

Find out more about our housing services

Trevor’s story

Trevor* was referred to our Opening Doors programme which aims to support people facing homelessness into long-term, sustainable housing. Before the support, he was living in an HMO, struggling to maintain his recovery from alcohol, and going through other mental health and wellbeing challenges. He was eligible for social housing but had been on the list for some time. Here, we share his journey into social housing and how he benefitted from Kineara’s support.  

Opening Doors Programme

“Sandra has been fantastic. Always there for me when I needed her. She helped out with my paperwork. Even when I’ve been down and depressed, she’s sat there and listened. There isn’t anything negative to say about her. Everything has been brilliant.”

said Trevor.

When Sandra, our Kineara practitioner started working with Trevor it was clear that the shared accommodation meant that his pursuit of recovery from alcohol and improved health was in jeopardy. Other residents were drinking, and several times police were called to the property.

Trevor had also been diagnosed with depression and epilepsy, and at times would have seizures brought on stress and anxiety, which had only increased due to his housing situation. “My experience living in the HMO was horrible!” he says, “It made it harder for me to control my drinking and manage my alcohol limits.”

For peace, mental focus, and to keep away from alcohol, Trevor found it easier to stay in his own room – but during lockdown the pressures of this isolation took a toll on his mental health. Through listening ear work, welfare calls, support with paperwork and lots of encouragement, Sandra supported Trevor to keep bidding for flats, to keep paying off rent arrears that had built up and prepare for a positive change to come.

Having someone to share the burdens of his isolation was crucial and his determination paid off. Reflecting on the support, Trevor says, “She was there to listen and guide me when I needed her. It’s hard to pick one benefit or main outcome as everything’s been great.”

Recently, he called to tell us he signed a tenancy for his own flat having been finally offered a social housing tenancy. Sandra says that housing was the biggest factor in turning his situation around and achieving positive outcomes overall. “I feel that now he is now in a much better position and headspace to take on any challenges he may be facing, like managing his alcohol and rent arrears. He is now really happy to just get on with things.”

*Name has been changed to protect client identity.

Find out more about our housing services.

Trevor is in a better position and headspace to take on any challenges he may be facing, like managing alcohol consumption and preventing rent arrears. He is now really happy to just get on with things.

Sam and Mum’s story

Sam and Mum’s story

After experiencing a difficult family situation in the form of domestic abuse, Sam and his mum were referred to Kineara’s Motivate to Educate (M2E) programme to receive specialised holistic support. The aims of the intervention were to provide one-to-one, emotional and practical support, help them to move forward from a traumatic past by developing techniques to strengthen their relationship, and learn how to deal with various challenges including PTSD.  

 

Young boy looking at a map

“Having this space meant that she could offload and speak in detail about her past abusive relationships, and the abuse that she witnessed as a child. She was now hoping to break the abusive cycle and teach her children a different way of behaving.”

Living temporarily in a refuge after fleeing domestic abuse, mum had always engaged well with Sam’s school and teachers, and together they decided the family could benefit from extra support. Having identified several issues including Sam’s behaviour and aggression towards his peers and family members, and a breakdown in relationship with mum, Gail, our M2E practitioner, began to work closely with Sam, mum and the whole family.

Exploring different techniques to strengthen Sam’s relationship with Mum was a key part of the intervention. “Mum was extremely resilient and was trying to deal with Sam’s behaviour as best she could,” explains Gail.

“Having this space meant that she could offload and speak in detail about the abuse in her past abusive relationships, and that she witnessed as a child. She was now hoping to break the abusive cycle and teach her children a different way of behaving.”

Gail supported Mum with her own emotional wellbeing and together they explored different ways that, “Mum could take a break from being Mum.” With a social care funding some childcare every week, Mum started spending a few hours a week to herself and a few hours to take Sam swimming without his two siblings, which really helped with relationship building. Gail also ordered some books for Mum to help with parenting children that have experienced trauma and a book to help with her own trauma.

Mum was very keen to help Sam manage his emotions and her own emotions like staying calm during Sam’s outbursts. Rather than reacting angrily by hitting him back, Gail showed Mum different techniques in dealing with Sam’s behaviour. “These were carried out with Sam on a 1:1 basis, with Mum to recap and then with the whole family so that it could be incorporated into the family unit,” explains Gail.

“The techniques included a punch bag so that Sam could release his anger onto the bag and not his family members, doing some artwork if Mum saw Sam becoming irritable, deep breathing with a partner so they support each other, Lion breath for releasing anger, and dancing to happy music to distract negative behaviour.”

Gail found that Sam was feeling anger towards Mum because of the situation with his stepfather. One method to help rebuild the relationship was introducing a new bedtime routine for Sam. This involved Sam’s two younger siblings being put to bed an hour earlier than Sam, giving Mum and Sam some special time together.

“The routine would include having a shower with some lavender oil, Mum giving Sam a short massage, then Mum and Sam would either watch a film or play dominoes or do a crossword together,” explains Gail. “Sam really responded well to this special time, but if Mum won a game or if Sam didn’t want to stop playing, sometimes he would get angry.” This meant that Gail would have to review progress and introduce different ideas.

Gail’s 1:1 and peer sessions with Sam gave him an opportunity to express how we was feeling and use creative methods to develop emotional awareness. From talking about how he felt about his stepfather, his mum and his brothers, Sam and Gail started going through different techniques to help Sam manage his rage.

“Sam is very emotionally intelligent and we were able to talk about how some adults do bad things and why this happens to some adults. We used body scans and releasing worries techniques to help take away some of the pain,” explains Gail. “We practised different relaxation techniques and words that he could use when he became angry. We also used visual timetables and charts to support the new routines.”

Sam was also part of the peer group that Gail led in school, looking at emotions and getting other students to talk about and share how things affect them emotionally. Here, Gail provided tools for the pupils to help them relax and feel less anxious as a group, as well as supporting the group to talk about each other’s positive attributes, to listen to each other and problem solve together. 

The whole family have been fully engaged in the programme and have taken on board all of the advice and support. Both Sam and Mum have more of an understanding about their own emotional wellbeing and I believe that one day they will be able to put this all behind them and have a happy life.

“Mum was able to encourage Sam to use different techniques himself to prevent his rage turning into an aggressive outburst. She was able to recognise that her reactions also had a part to play in the outcome of his outbursts.” 

Crucial to the success of the intervention was practical support and advocacy work. “We worked productively with children’s social care and the school, liaising with all the services involved in the case and actioning necessary agenda items from each social care meeting,” says Gail.

Gail also supported Mum in speaking to various professionals and applying for PIP, DLA and Housing. Gail also advocated the need for CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) involvement, which led to the diagnosis that Sam has PTSD, and would benefit from trauma therapy.

Given the family had a limited time to stay in the refuge and were moving to temporary accommodation, Gail supported the whole family in the lead up to moving home and school by celebrating the time they had in school with some of their friends, as well supporting them during the transition period. Gail explains that extra practical support included “providing clothing and toys for the family and taking the family for a day out in London to see the Christmas lights and commend their hard work with us.”

Following the support, Mum and Sam’s relationship greatly improved and there were less outbursts from Sam. This meant that trips to A & E and police involvement reduced over the intervention periodMum continued to implement the different techniques that Gail provided to help Sam with his aggression and change the family routine, give the children consistency, and give her some time for herself.

“Mum was able to encourage Sam to use different techniques himself to prevent his rage turning into an aggressive outburst. She was able to recognise that her reactions also had a part to play in the outcome of his outbursts,” says Gail.

Gail explains how Sam was now able to talk about his past and what made him angry, showing an improvement in communication skills and managing emotions. The support helped Sam to recognise that he has people around him that cared about his wellbeing and his future.

“Sam began to realise and speak about how his mum is someone he can always rely on and talk too when he needed supported or if something was worrying him,” says Gail. The school was also a great support in using some of these techniques from the M2E sessions to calm Sam down if he would begin to feel sad or angry.

Another outcome was that Mum recognised that she needed her own therapy from the trauma she had received, which led to  Mum speaking with us each week about her emotions and worries, and accepting her own 1:1 talking therapy with a counsellor from a church. “It was important to encourage Mum when she was exhausted and feeling low, reminding her how far she has come, and what the future looks like,” says Gail.

“I think that Mum has done an amazing job so far, and I feel that if the family continue to communicate, stick to the routines and boundaries and complete their trauma therapy once they have been referred in Kent then they will have really turned their lives around from the domestic abuse they received.”

Reflecting on the support, Gail believes that, “the whole family have been fully engaged in the programme and have taken on board all of the advice and support. Both Sam and Mum have more of an understanding about their own emotional wellbeing and I believe that one day they will be able to put this all behind them and have a happy life.”

She adds, “I also think that once the family have been placed in an appropriate accommodation and the children are back in school, things will be easier to manage. My recommendation is that Mum continues to keep doing what she is doing, her will power and strength to create a better life for her and her children is amazing.”

The family have been allocated a key worker in their area’s Social Care Early Help hub who is now continuing to support them.

Note: Names have been changed to protect client’s identity.

Find out more about our Motivate to Educate programme. 

Talib’s story

Talib’s story

Talib was referred to Kineara’s M2E programme after concerns about challenging behaviour at home which was affecting his engagement and progress in school. As a young boy who has autism, the school was keen to provide extra support for Talib and the whole family in understanding autism and developing tools and strategies to support his wellbeing and progress in school and out. 

 

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"What worked extremely well was the support from the school and their drive to keep pushing for Talib and the whole family to succeed." said Gail 

During the referral, the Parent Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) revealed concerns over Talib’s stress levels, emotional distress and hyperactivity, while his main strengths were his kind and helpful behaviour and friendships at school. Crucial to the success of the intervention would be building on these strengths and addressing the concerns holistically.

Through a variety of 1:1, group and parent support sessions, M2E lead Gail used a variety of tools and resources to help tackle stress and anxiety. These included tailor-made emotion cards to help Talib communicate how he was feeling in a way that was helpful to himself and others, especially when he was feeling sad or anxious.

They also practiced breathing and relaxation exercises to tackle stress and hyperactivity, and social and practical exercises to encourage Talib to follow instructions and work effectively with others. “Talib absolutely loved these sessions and learnt different ways to express himself, which enabled him to attend school each morning without crying and becoming upset,” said Gail.

One of the key learnings was adapting the support approach and activities to meet the needs of Talib and build on his strengths. “Talib would often find it hard to follow instructions and would have to be talked through instructions in detail or broken down into bite size pieces – this is why visuals were extremely helpful,” said Gail.

Involving other pupils in therapeutic activities like baking also helped to develop confidence, communication and broaden his friendship circle. “Group work outside of the classroom setting was good for Talib, it helped with taking turns, helping each other and talking to other students that he wouldn’t have spoken to before,” she added.

With the aims of building awareness and dispelling preconceptions about autism, the parent sessions were geared towards exploring autism, developing effective family routines and strengthening relationships. “I felt that we needed to help the parents understand how important it is to learn how autism affects our children – having this sort of knowledge is powerful for parents, if we don’t learn and understand what we are faced with then we will always struggle with that which we don’t understand,” said Gail.

Working closely with the school’s education psychologist and other health professionals, Gail discussed ways of supporting Talib and the family with coming to terms with autism. They decided to purchase a book called ‘All about me’ – a step by step guide in telling children and young people about autism. Gail then sat down with the parents to explore different chapters of the book, as well as other resources and community groups that support autism and challenging behaviour. Mum attended some of these groups with Gail, and dad asked Gail if she could attend workshops and feedback to them.

As Talib had not been told about his diagnosis, part of the plan was to develop a 6-step process in presenting this to Talib. Gail explained that it was important to implement this in a way that would help him understand autism and make him realise that it was nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about, rather he could be proud of.

“I wanted to help the family understand that many people have autism, most haven’t even been diagnosed. It’s not something to be shameful of, it’s just a different way of understanding, learning and communicating,” said Gail.

Parenting is a very tough job but learning about your child and how they think is also a learning for ourselves. We must find new routines, different structures and work hard together to creates some positive changes within the family home.

“Giving the child space to express how they’re feeling and showing parents different ways of changing their responses and routines at home, can make a real impact in improving wellbeing.” 

In addition to struggling with Talib’s behaviour at home, the parents said that he was often very sad about going to school, and that this was affecting his academic progress and ability to form friendships. Talib would also become very hyper at home and the parents had also expressed concern over the safety of Talib’s younger brother.

We found that mum would usually interact calmly and affectionate with Talib, but her parenting style differed to dad’s. To support them with Talib’s hyperactivity, Gail showed them the benefit of family routines including sleep routines where Talib would have a warm bath with lavender, a short massage and a short story before bed. He was also given a worry book and a happy book where he would express his feelings and share them with mum during the sessions or at another appropriate time.

During the intervention, we found that Talib loved trains and had the exceptional skill of knowing almost every journey and how to get there. Gail suggested that dad take Talib on train journeys and make it a reward for him – this would help them to acknowledge Talib’s progress, while strengthening their own relationship. Implementing these small routines has made a real difference to the family dynamics and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“I understand parenting is a very tough job but learning about your child and how they think is also a learning for ourselves. We must find new routines, different structures and work hard together to creates some positive changes within the family home. I am not saying this is easier it takes time and commitment, but if you stick with it you will get results,” said Gail. “We also talked about how physical activities could help with Talib’s running around in the home and reducing hyperactivity.

I asked the family if they could take him for a walk each night, or go swimming, mum said she thought about karate and I said I thought that would be so helpful,” she added.

But there have been challenges along the way. “As M2E involves pupils and their families, one of the biggest challenges has been engaging with a parent who thinks the children are to blame”, explained Gail, “Giving the child space to express how they’re feeling and showing parents different ways of changing their responses and routines at home, can make a real impact in improving wellbeing and enhancing positive relationships.” Generally, the parents have been quite engaged throughout the process, but the mindset shift is one that takes time and commitment, she explained.

Another challenge was their housing situation. They had been living with another family in a small flat, leading to overcrowding. Working closely with the family, a health assessment was completed about the living situation. As a result, they were placed on a priority band for a new home and have just recently found out they will be moving into a new 3-bedroom flat. This is a great achievement, and it is hoped that the new flat will not only provide space for Talib to grow and express himself but improve the wellbeing of the whole family.

The last piece of work is for Gail and the school to support Talib in understanding autism and how he functions, so he can be proud of who he is. They are now in the process of implementing the 6-step for Talib, and he is also free to continue attending the drop-in at the school. Mum and Dad can also attend the drop-in if they need any support or guidance, and it is hoped they will continue implementing what they’ve learnt to support ongoing progress.

Note: Names have been changed to protect client’s identity.

Nigel’s story

Nigel, a talented outsider artist, was keen to find a more flexible job that suited his health needs and aspirations. Working closely with our practitioner Liz, Nigel received support with job hunting, interview practice and accessing therapeutic services. Eventually, Nigel was offered a job but decided it was time to take a different route. 

“My passion is art. In my spare time I create art, my whole flat is covered in art work, my motivation is art. I want to carry on after I retire.”  

said Nigel.

Nigel had been working in the same role for 7 years and though his manager had reduced his hours to part-time, he was keen to find a new role that was customer facing but less physical pressure, particularly on his feet and knees.

He mentioned that he felt out of the loop with interviews, thus the holistic support was geared toward building confidence, improving emotional wellbeing and building on his aspirations.

Working closely with Liz, Nigel completed a new CV, cover letter and had begun applying for various roles in the retail sector. Alongside this, he began practicing interviews via role play to build his confidence and learn how to highlight his strengths and skills.

“Liz has been really helpful in offering the support I need – I can’t fault her to be honest.” he said. “She was friendly and chatty and helped me find jobs that I was interested in.”

While receiving employment support, Nigel had been dealing with a knee and foot injury. The medication he was taking to reduce the pain had had several side effects, causing him to become quite ill. Consequently, he had been going in for tests to determine the best treatment going forward.

Despite these challenges, Nigel had successfully interviewed with Marks and Spencer and eventually managed to secure what he believed to be a more flexible part-time role. Soon after, however, he discovered that the role had changed to early mornings with more physical labour which was different to what he had originally applied for.

After speaking to Liz about the change, his health and him nearing early retirement age, Nigel decided that it was time to pursue his true passion. “My passion is art. In my spare time I create art, my whole flat is covered in art work, my motivation is art,”’ he said.

Nigel makes me believe that even if you’re feeling a bit stuck, just keep pushing for what you want. It might be a tough journey but if it’s something that will bring you joy in the long run, then it will be worth it. This journey has brought him a new lease of life. ~ Liz, Practitioner

“The support helped me realise that I wanted to study for a university degree instead of getting another job. With a BA degree behind me, I thought I might stand a better chance of getting another job in my preferred field.” 

said Nigel.

“The support helped me realise that I wanted to study for a university degree instead of getting another job. With a BA degree behind me, I thought I might stand a better chance of getting another job in my preferred field,” he added.

Working from his colourful home studio in Islington, his passion for art is palpable and continuous. After applying to the university of his choice, he eventually secured a place for a foundation year, and is now in the middle of his first year. So far, he has found the course both exciting and challenging, and has been experimenting with different mediums and techniques. “When I told Liz, I wanted to do an art degree, she was happy for me. If I didn’t have Liz, I wouldn’t be here now, sitting here talking to you now!” he said.

Further to intensive employment support, Nigel received financial support to help cover living costs and travel expenses for interviews.

Working closely with Liz and his housing provider’s finance team, he also received support relating to benefits, rent arrears and budgeting. Liz had also encouraged Nigel to keep in regular contact with his GP and seek therapeutic support as and when required.

Reflecting on the sessions, Liz believed that the main benefit was the self-confidence it gave him to pursue his passion and build on his natural strengths. “He makes me believe that even if you’re feeling a bit stuck, just keep pushing for what you want. It might be a tough journey but if it’s something that will bring you joy in the long run, then it will be worth it.”

She added: “I’m happy that he is following his passion because not doing so was having an impact on his wellbeing. This journey has brought him a new lease of life!"

To view more of Nigel’s work or to contact him, you can follow him Instagram or Facebook.

Lucy’s story

Lucy’s story

Lucy, along with her three young children, were in the process of being evicted from their private tenancy under a section 21 eviction act. Having developed significant rent arrears and facing varied challenges at home, Lucy was referred to Kineara for extra assistance. 

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There were multiple things taking an emotional toll and making things even more difficult to manage. Such challenges required a holistic and tailored support approach.  

After experiencing domestic violence, Lucy and her family had been moved four times in the space of just three years over safety concerns. On top of that, her landlord had increased the rent resulting in significant rent arrears.

But there were other things that were taking an emotional toll and making things even more difficult to manage. Lucy’s 20-year-old daughter had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and her 10-year-old son was having problems at school due to non-attendance and health issues surrounding epilepsy. Such challenges, along with her own health and wellbeing issues required a holistic and tailored support approach.

Working closely with practitioner Liz, a plan was put in place to help Lucy resolve the rent arrears and secure permanent accommodation. At first, Liz worked with Lucy to develop better communication with her Housing Options case manager by attending joint meetings together. Being unable to read and write effectively meant Lucy had often relied on her daughter for support with letters and other documentation – so initially Lucy found this a challenge. Having Liz advocate alongside her helped to ease her worries and build her confidence.

Liz then worked with Lucy to supply the evidence needed to reinstate her housing benefits and employment support allowance and, as a result, Lucy received backdated payments which significantly reduced her rent arrears. Soon after, Lucy was able to implement a manageable payment plan to resolve additional rent arrears.

With improved communication and a realistic plan in place, Lucy and the family were eventually moved from temporary to permanent accommodation. During the move Liz was there to offer a helping hand and ensure a smooth transition into their new home. All this gave Lucy and the family more relief and security, especially after moving multiple times across different London boroughs. It also meant they could start settling into their new community.

During the support Lucy secured financial assistance from Job Centre Plus to enrol onto a dog training course and a reading and writing course – a positive step in developing her skills and confidence. She also expressed interest in working flexible hours to support her family, and later benefited from employment related support in the form of a listening ear and practical advice.

Following the six-month intervention, Lucy’s confidence, independence and resilience have significantly improved. She is now better able to contact other organisations if she needs help with different challenges and has started looking for a job.

With rent arrears significantly reduced, secure accommodation and strengthened relationships within the family, she is feeling a lot more confident about the future. 

With Liz’s assistance, Lucy was able to find additional 1:1 support for her son, to help him manage his health concerns and deal with any medical emergencies at school. This improved his attendance and in turn impacted positively on his education and communication with the family. Liz had also encouraged Lucy to speak to her GP to find support for her and her daughter’s mental health.

Following the six-month intervention, Lucy’s confidence, independence and resilience have significantly improved.

She is now better able to contact other organisations if she needs help with different challenges and has started looking for a job. With rent arrears significantly reduced, secure accommodation and strengthened relationships within the family, she is feeling a lot more confident about the future.

Our Rent Support Programme+ (RSP+) aims to tackle evictions of vulnerable people living in private rented homes. To learn more or partner with us on this innovative project, contact us at: info@kineara.co.uk

Tammi’s story

Tammi’s story

Tammi was referred to Kineara’s Intensive Employment Support Programme by her Housing Support Manager, to receive one-to-one holistic support for a wide range of issues from housing to family support needs. Having lived in both London and Trinidad for the past 20 years, she was keen to find a suitable job to support her family.

“It's been very trying since I came. I've not lived in London for over 12 years, so a lot has changed. It actually turned out to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated."

said Tammi.

 Tammi, who joined the employment programme in early June, was facing multiple challenges relating to her housing situation, family support needs, wellbeing, and seeking employment. Living with her father and two young children in a one-bedroom flat in Islington, Tammi’s journey has been far from easy.

“Coming back from Trinidad, I thought I would be able to get some help finding my own place but it didn’t work out. Now I’m with my dad in a one bedroom, with my two kids. Sometimes it feels like the system itself is not geared to actually help you” she says.

As a lone parent and the primary carer of her two children, Tammi is a pillar of support for everyone around her. Last year when news came that her sister had developed cancer, she was the first to step up and support her through her it.

“Last November, I found out that my sister had cancer, so in between looking for jobs, I was going to hospital with her; most days when she had chemotherapy, I’d go with her. Then of course the side effects of chemo caused other issues. I felt like that was my job for the last year.”

After a year of supporting her sister through chemotherapy, Tammi would never have expected her father to go through the same life-changing event. So, when her father was diagnosed with cancer in July, it took another emotional toll on her. “When it comes to my family if they need me, I’m here to support. I was a carer, every doctor knows me, every surgeon knows me. I’m now helping my dad, now he has to go through all this.

It was then that Tammi’s passion for helping cancer patients and vulnerable people was sparked. Speaking about her voluntary work, she says: “The doctors call me Pinky because I cut off my hair and dyed it pink to raise money for breast cancer. I now have to go with purple because my dad has prostate cancer…no I’m joking. But as I say, the last few years have been difficult. Thank God, we are a close-knit family. When I feel like giving up, I know my dad and my sister will be there to pick me up.”

Despite the challenges, Tammi has been working closely with our keyworker Liz, to find a suitable job that works both practically and financially. “I started looking for work and realised that a lot of jobs don’t cater for a single mum. The hours are really drastic” she explains. 

 

Those days I couldn't function, Liz would sit down and help me one application at a time. Having someone who's willing to help and guide you, with everything else you have going on. It was just a comfort knowing that I could call Liz and ask her questions.

“When it comes to my family, if they need me I’m here to support. I was a carer, every doctor knows me, every surgeon knows me. I’m now helping my dad, now he has to go through all this.” she adds

“Those days I couldn’t function, Liz would sit down and help me one application at a time. She helped me with my CV, she helped me out with a couple of job applications: the really long-winded ones that could take up to a day to complete. So far, what she’s done has been a great help. I’m hoping she can steer me in the right direction and help me get a job that is a little bit more flexible for mums.”

Tammi is keen to continue developing her skills and improving her job prospects by taking a variety of courses. Over the last year, she has completed a makeup course, threading course and an IT course.

“I took an IT course to sharpen up my skills and help me get back into work. With technology these days, it’s important to top up your skills. But in the middle of that course, my sister got diagnosed with cancer, which made me want to help people with cancer” she explains.

Working with Liz, Tammi has also received practical support for her father and wider family needs, like completing application forms, grant forms and a helping hand.

“I feel like you’re thrown into the deep end with no guidance, none at all. I literally had to fill out all the forms from child benefit, job seekers allowance, all these forms. When I called Liz and told her that my dad has terminal cancer, she came and helped him with some forms, like applying for grants. Having someone who’s willing to help and guide you, with everything else you have going on. It was just a comfort knowing that I could call Liz and ask her questions.”

Liz has also been liaising directly with Southern Housing Group, to remind them about Tammi’s housing situation. As the flat is overcrowded, Tammi is eager to move somewhere suitable for herself and her family.

“To have Liz working with the landlord and reminding them about our situation – that to me is a big help. I honestly think when we find somewhere else it will be easier because the flat is overcrowded and we are constantly cramped. The place was built for one person, it wasn’t designed for four people. We are on a waiting list now.”

Another benefit of the programme was the financial and practical support it provided. As well as working on developing employability skills including CV writing, application forms and interview skills, Tammi is now able to search for jobs independently. “I had a laptop which my friend broke, so I couldn’t charge it. They paid for a new charger it, which has been a big help.”

So far, Tammi has found Kineara’s support really helpful, in particular, the one-to-one holistic approach and the opportunity to focus on her own personal wellbeing.

“You go to one office for housing, they say that they can’t tell you about job seekers. You go to another about job seekers, they say that they can’t tell you about benefits. But at the end of the day they are all intertwined. Liz has been helping me loads. I’m hoping she can continue steer me in the right direction.”

“I honestly think that when we find somewhere else it will be easier because the flat is overcrowded. Liz has been helping me loads. I’m hoping she can continue to steer me in the right direction.”

Ayodele and Dayo’s story

Strengthening family relationships, improving school motivation and supporting emotional wellbeing are just some of the aims of Motivate to Education (M2E), which works holistically with school pupils both in school and out. Here, Ayodele* and Dayo explain how the programme has made a difference to their lives.  

“Dayo has really improved at school and at home. He’s learnt how to express himself more when he’s angry and hasn’t had an emotional outburst in a long time - that’s what the teacher told us.” 

said Ayodele.

With strong academic performance and the ability to achieve “remarkable outcomes”, Dayo was initially referred to M2E over concerns for his emotional wellbeing. Having expressed concern about Dayo’s temper, which had often led to violent outbursts and fighting with other students, the school was keen to support Dayo in managing his emotions and fulfilling his potential.

As a proactive pupil and the eldest child of four, Dayo wanted to find ways of coping with his anger and talk to someone about life at home and how he would often feel left out. He began seeing Gail, our M2E practitioner at Chisenhale Primary School, who started showing him different ways of dealing with his emotions and anger, as well as building his emotional awareness.

Dayo benefitted from the combination of individual, group and family sessions that were built into the intervention. The individual sessions looked at strategies for dealing with emotions and preventing outbursts, including relaxation and breathing techniques, while the peer, parents and family sessions were geared towards strengthening relationships with the people around him.

“I enjoy having better relationships with people in school. I use my breathing techniques when someone is annoying me and I listen to my relaxation before bed and no tech for one hour which helps my sleep,” says Dayo.

But it’s not just what Dayo has learnt. Ayodele has also seen an improvement in his behaviour both at school and at home. As a busy mum of four young children including Dayo, she would often find it difficult to spend quality time with him, but she says the programme has really helped strengthen their relationship. “The programme has really helped us as a family – we’ve learnt how to communicate better. I’ve also learnt about having independent one-to-one time with each child,” says Ayodele.

One of the things that has helped strengthen their relationship was introducing some cooking time with mum at home. M2E practitioner Gail explains that over the weeks, Dayo would come back with different recipes he had cooked with mum and he seemed to really enjoy spending this time with her, learning how to cook. It was clear that his supportive nature and improvement at home had positively impacted his behaviour at school.

I feel that the family engaged fully with the programme and seemed to take on board the support and ideas that were given to them. I watched Dayo change over the intervention and how the process has made them stronger as a family. ~ M2E Practitioner, Gail McKnelly

“I enjoy having better relationships with people in school. I use my breathing techniques when someone is annoying me, and I listen to my relaxation before bed and no tech for one hour which helps my sleep.”

said Dayo.

“Dayo has really improved at school and at home. He’s learnt how to express himself more when he’s angry and hasn’t had an emotional outburst in a long time – that’s what the teacher told us.” said Ayodele.

As a reward for his effort during the programme, Gail treated Dayo and some of his friends with a trip to the cinema and the farm. Watching the film ‘Wonder’ was a great opportunity for Dayo to reflect on how the film made him feel emotionally and link it to his personal experience.

“It was really great for both Dayo and I to have someone to talk to outside of the family. Although the problems we had were mainly at school, we’ve learnt so much about speaking and listening techniques and spending quality time together at home,” says Ayodele, “Gail advised us to turn off the TV one hour before bed which has really helped us and she was kind enough to give Dayo’s some lavender bath salts to help him relax!”

Working closely with Dayo’s parents and teachers, a strengths and difficulties assessment (SDQ) was completed before and after the intervention to measure the impact of the programme.

Reflecting on the sessions, M2E practitioner Gail explains that the main outcomes were an improvement in Dayo’s overall stress, emotional distress and behaviour, which had reduced from “very high” pre-intervention to “low and close to average” post-intervention. This was followed by an improvement in concentration and less hyperactivity both at school and at home.

Both parents have said that they have seen a noticeable difference in Dayo, particularly in controlling his behaviour and in exploring and channelling his emotions positively. During the programme, Dayo’s dad admitted that he never spoke about emotions to the children before, but now he makes sure to praise them and tell them how proud of his family he is.

“Dayo worked extremely hard within this intervention, this gave him very positive rewards,” says Gail, “I feel that the family engaged fully with the programme and seemed to take on board the support and ideas that were given to them. I watched Dayo change over the intervention and how the process has made them stronger as a family.”

Note: Names have been changed to protect client's identity.

Samim’s story

Samim’s story

Samim joined Kineara's Reframe programme, then our Intensive Employment Support Programme in September 2017, after a domestic violence incident at home. She came to us needing someone knowledgeable, outside of the family, to discuss practical, emotional and employment challenges with.

“Without Sandra and my housing officer, I don't know what I would have done. Their work has helped me, and now I'd like to look into helping others who have been through similar situations."

said Samim.

 

After the incident and separation from her partner, Samim’s confidence had taken a knock, which meant that she had to rebuild from scratch. “Sandra (the key worker) is helping me rebuild my confidence because I’ve been out of work for 22 years,” she explains. “I am a full-time carer for my mum and two young children, aged 17 and 20. I hadn’t really done anything besides that, so after the incident happened, my confidence was knocked, where do I start now?”

Working closely with Sandra, Samim has been receiving support in the form of a listening ear and a helping hand to get her started at a pace that works for her, while she waits for professional counselling. These have included one-to-one sessions focusing on practical and emotional support and general confidence-building. Samim has also learnt how to channel emotions in a positive way, and has benefited from having a neutral, non-judgemental practitioner outside of the family.

 “Sandra has been amazing. My counselling hasn’t started yet due to the long waiting list. But every time Sandra comes down, I think she’s been more of a counsellor to me that the counsellors themselves!” she says.

As well as helping Samim rebuild her confidence and independence, the holistic support was aimed at equipping her with employability skills, including CV and application writing and learning Microsoft Office programmes. Intent on developing her computer skills, Samim is looking forward to starting a 10-week computer course from January.

“When I went to school, computers weren’t really one of those things, so I didn’t think I needed to do anything practical with the computer, or learn IT skills. Nowadays, most things are online, including applying for jobs. Sandra is helping me build my confidence up and learn how to use different programmes, which I am hoping will help me find a job.” 

Sandra has been amazing. My counselling hasn’t started yet due to the long waiting list. But every time she comes down, I think she’s been more of a counsellor to me that the counsellors themselves.

“I was brought up here in the UK, I know my way around and I can do things. But some of these ladies come from abroad, who are in marriages that are not so good, and may not speak the language, what help have they got?

Samim is also keen to support women who have experienced domestic violence, particularly those from a South Asian background, as she understands some of the barriers and challenges they may face. She is continuing to look for opportunities in her local borough of Newham.

“I’d like to give something back. Without Sandra and my housing officer, I don’t know what I would have done. Their work has helped me, and now I’d like to look into helping others who have been through similar situations.”

Drawing on her own experience and understanding, she describes the cultural and financial pressures people often face, which she wants to support people with. “When I think about it, I was brought up here in the UK, I know my way around and I can do things…


But some of these ladies come from abroad, who are in marriages that are not so good, and may not speak the language, what help have they got? I’ve been through the experience of having to claim universal credit and having everything stopped, all my finances, my housing benefit and everything had stopped. It all just like fell on me, and my main concern was not getting into debt.

When you’re being supported by another person, then all of a sudden that person is not around, your mind is vulnerable anyway, so I’d say that was one of my biggest barriers. I understand people’s cultures, and how it all works, so I’d like to use that to help others.”

Since joining the programme last September, Samim believes her main achievements include enrolling onto the computer course, joining the local gym and developing confidence and resilience.

“Sandra suggested I try yoga to help me relax because I was stressed and wasn’t sleeping too good. She brought me a few leaflets from my area for pilates and yoga, and I ended up joining the gym. She’s gone out of her own way to find these places locally. She’s been a god-send!”


Despite being out of work for a long time, Samim is now positive about boosting her skills, volunteering in the local community and eventually finding a suitable job.

With Sandra’s support, she is in the process of applying for different volunteering opportunities and has completed a new CV and cover letter. Samim is also clearer about what she wants to do and the type of support she needs.

“I think I want to do an office job or something like that, part-time. I’m a carer for my mum anyway, so I work around her, but I told her eventually if I do find something and my hours don’t match her hours, I’ll try to get another carer for her, to come in and help her.”

“For so many years I’ve just let myself run around after everyone else. It’s just that you get into a particular routine, it becomes your comfort zone. I’ve just forgotten about myself. I think it’s about time I built myself up.”

Senel and Chelsey’s story

Senel and Chelsey’s story

Senel had been concerned about her daughter Chelsey’s attitude to school for some time before learning about Kineara’s intervention, Motivate to Educate (M2E). Here, she describes Chelsey’s journey to becoming “a completely different child.”

“The stuff Roz has shown her, it’s like she’s a completely different child. She got high grades in her exams…She’s just not the same. It’s amazing!”

said Senel.

“If you see how she was in the beginning. Not that she wouldn’t speak to us, she just found it hard to express herself.” explains Senel. “She used to come home and she’d slam doors… She wouldn’t interact, she wouldn’t talk about her problems, she wouldn’t express herself. She would just make every excuse up not to go to school.”

Senel had taken steps to reach out and get support for Chelsey, without much success. After speaking again with staff at the school, Senel was referred to M2E, and was keen to see whether it would make a difference. “I discussed with the teachers what the problem was and we found out that she was stressed, there was problems going on with girls and all sorts…It got to a stage where enough was enough.” says Senel.

Chelsey began seeing Roz, our M2E practitioner based in Harrington Hill Primary School, who started working through exercises and showing her different communication and relaxation techniques.

At first, Chelsey found it difficult to open up, but after building trust with Roz, she began to engage with and respond positively to the sessions. “She said at first she couldn’t find the right words, but there’s no right word to express yourself. Gradually she started opening up about how she was feeling…” says Senel.

“She wouldn’t interact, she wouldn’t talk about her problems, she wouldn’t express herself. Now she’s learnt how to express herself. She’s learnt how to be more self-confident. She’s learnt so much from Roz.”

“Chelsey was very popular in the class so if one girl wasn’t talking to another Chelsey was always in the middle, and that was the problem we had.” she adds.

So, it was also important that Roz spent time with Chelsey and her friends together. “The girls are closer now – they know how to deal with the situation. And Chelsey now, if someone is having a problem with someone else, she walks away. That is a massive step to how she was before.”

Roz also began visiting Chelsey at home, arranging sessions with her and the family. They would play games, watch movies and talk about their feelings, which strengthened relationships within the family and allowed everyone to express themselves freely.

“Roz came to the house a few times which was ideal as she could compare Chelsey to how she was at school. When she came to the house, everyone was getting on with everyone. There was no bickering, no arguments. Chelsey could sit down and express her feelings to Roz about how her day was at school, if they were watching movies, then what movies.”

Senel explains how the home visits were equally helpful, and she plans to continue using some of these strategies herself, like a game that uses skittles as a starter for talking about how you are feeling. ‘It was really good as it made Chelsey open up about stuff as well. Every now and again, we play that game ourselves. Chelsey can express the way she feels and her sister can listen to the way she expresses herself. It’s a fantastic game!”

Senel believes the sessions have had a transformative impact on Chelsey from learning how to express herself, becoming more confident to achieving high grades in her exams. She says: “Chelsey has opened up, she’s a different person. Now she’s learnt how to express herself. She’s learnt how to be more self-confident. She’s learnt so much from Roz. The stuff Roz has shown her, she’s like a completely different child. She got high grades in her exams. The teachers even said like…she’s a completely different child, she’s just not the same. It’s amazing!”

Following the sessions, Senel met with the school to discuss Chelsey’s progress. “I had a meeting with Roz and her two teachers, and even her teacher said, Chelsey has an excellent imagination, she can imagine things and make it come real for herself… Before she used to do tests, she will get just above half. Now, she’s getting full marks.”

Chelsey has now secured a place at a local secondary school and is preparing for a new start this September. But, it was a challenge to secure that place and for a time, Senel was planning to home tutor her while a local school could be found. Speaking about the challenges of securing a space at a local secondary school, Senel explains: “We applied to 3 schools in the area but they all declined.. so she has to home tutored for a while, which is like a downfall to her… In the summer, I booked for us to go away for a week to Sandnes, obviously it’s going to be hard for her but at least she’s had that time away.”

Senel is keen to maintain the good relationship she has built with Chelsey, as well as the family. Reflecting on the programme, Senel raises a point about the need for more long-term support for pupils who have disengaged with school, and how parents and the whole family would benefit also. “You’d be amazed how many parents need support for their kids, and they just don’t get it! A child needs to open up and express themselves.”

She adds: “When you have a keyworker like Roz, you gain their trust, and it’s very hard to leave. I said to Roz already, you’re such a lovely person, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”