Project type: Testimonials

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.

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“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.”

Ashleigh’s story

Ashleigh was referred to Kineara by Southern Housing Group (SHG), her housing provider, to support her with finding employment and wider family needs. Having been out of work for 7 years after having children and studying in-between, Ashleigh is keen to get back into work in a less stressful way. 

“She’s been able to kind of take a certain weight off my shoulders. I’m happy that she’s come along to help as I’ve had a few difficulties with my university and just in general with their father. I’m keen to get back to work in a less stressful way.”

said Ashleigh.

Having recently graduated in Criminology, Ashleigh – from North London – is keen to find the right job that accommodates for her as a mother of two and allows her to utilise her skills. Despite several setbacks, Ashleigh believes her degree and life experience will stand her in good stead in pursuing her passion: working with vulnerable young people with challenging behaviour.

“My course and modules have made me more passionate to work within that field. I have certain friends as well that led me to do the course that I was doing in the first place. Some of my friends have been through domestic violence.”

“I think I’m a natural person that people come to and speak to. It happens quite often. If anybody wants to talk to me, I’d tell them as best as I can…what they can do to accommodate their life in a certain way. And I feel I can apply this into work.”

Ashleigh, who made full use of the employment support programme in June after completing university, has received tailored support in job hunting and wider family needs.

Working with Liz, she has completed a new CV and cover letter, and is in the process of exploring appropriate roles based on her degree. Having applied for a grant, Ashleigh will also receive financial support to cover travel expenses and new interview clothes.

Reflecting on the sessions, Ashleigh says: “It’s been going really well. She’s been able to take a certain weight off my shoulders. I’m happy that she’s come along to help as I’ve had a few difficulties with my university and in general with [the childrens’] father. I’m keen to get back to work in a less stressful way.”

“We’ve started doing quite a lot of stuff, which I’ve really appreciated.” says Ashleigh. “I would never have known I was eligible for those things had Liz not come along. So, she’s been very resourceful. She showed me different tools in how to change my cover letter for a specific job, like changing certain words, identifying key words that you can repeat, so just little neat things that I would have second guessed on. I think she’s been really helpful, really useful.”

You know when you’ve gone through so much and you just have someone come into your life in the right way, to kind of help you get back onto things. I couldn’t be happier to meet someone like that at the right time. I think it’s amazing that my housing provider is even doing something like this. I think it’s needed.

“Speaking about her dissertation on vicarious trauma, she explains how professionals in the field can also be affected by the cases they work with, and this is something she is passionate about addressing. ”

Ashleigh is also clear about the kind of skills she wants to gain and believes there is always more to learn. She explains that she would like to improve her skills in learning “how to reassure someone without overstepping the mark, making sure I’m able to incorporate certain measures and tools, and learning not to take the work home with me.”

But it’s not just what Ashleigh hopes to gain from work, she is clear that the skills and experience flow in both directions.

“I’m really good at seeing a situation and not judging it for what it is. Kind of looking on the outside and then incorporating measures and tools that I have intothe situation, to see if I can actually help the person. I think that’s quite an exceptional tool to have. I know working will be beneficial to me and to the other people.”

Ashleigh has also received support with wider family needs, by having Liz advocate and work alongside her, to write supporting statements for various circumstances. “Liz accompanied me to court two weeks ago. She helped me with various bits, like writing up a statement” she explains. “She’s really easy to talk to. It kind of makes you feel more reassured, which is really refreshing. She’s such a lovely person. “

So far, Ashleigh has found Kineara a big support and is proactive in speaking about and taking steps to get back into work and resolve any issues. “You know when you’ve gone through so much and you just have someone come into your life in the right way, to kind of help you get back onto things.”

“I couldn’t be happier to meet someone like that at the right time. I think it’s amazing that my housing provider is even doing something like this. I think it’s needed.”

Pathou’s story

Pathou’s story

Pathou was struggling with his finances and in rent arrears and seeing he needed extra support his housing provider referred him to Kineara’s Rent Support Programme. The programme offers specialist and intensive support and helps people to break down the barriers that are stopping them from achieving their potential and tackling their debt.

“When you’re going through stress, you’re not taking nothing serious no more, it’s like someone might be in your ear saying take this serious, get up in the morning look for a job, things like that, but when you’re going through depression, a lot of things on your mind, it’s really hard,”

said Pathou.

Last year Pathou, who lives in Poplar, started a business course at St Patrick’s International College in the hopes of eventually starting his own import/ export business. Unfortunately, after he started his course he did not receive his student loan and because he was studying he could not receive any benefits.

“The reason why they didn’t pay my student finance was because I didn’t have the right ID,” explained Pathou. “Every office I was going to I was finding nobody would help me.”

Pathou did not know who to turn to, his debts spiralled, his rent arrears began to mount and he started to feel very depressed.

In April Poplar HARCA, his housing provider, were concerned about his finances and referred him to the Rent Support Programme.

“I met Liz and we started having appointments, one by one, and it went great. At first I didn’t know, what’s this all about, and then she explained herself, she’s there for me, but I have to give 100% too, I have to be on it.”

Liz met with Pathou and found out why he was in rent arrears; together they made a plan to sort Pathou’s finances and his student loan. The language barrier was also a big problem for Pathou, who is originally from the Congo, and so Liz helped him to contact the relevant agencies.

If it wasn’t for Elizabeth I‘d probably leave the flat and end up being on the street again, cos I was stuck and I didn’t know where to turn.

“I was going through depression, I ran out of words, I didn’t know what to think, I was stressed, so she was doing all the talking for me.”

After discussing his options with Liz, Pathou decided to temporarily withdraw from his course and Liz helped him to make a claim for backdated housing benefit.

“We went to sort out my housing benefits forms, we went to the one stop shop, and we went to the Salvation Army just to get help with tin food, because I wasn’t getting no money, even JSA crisis loan, so I was struggling.”

Pathou said he found the home visits Liz made really useful, and benefited from having someone to talk to.

“Some people just meet you in the office, that’s it innit, but they don’t come to your house and talk to you and find out more about you. If they started doing that more it would be a better place.”

Slowly Pathou managed to get on top of his rent arrears, but just as things were starting to look up, he had a road traffic accident.

“Liz came to see me in the hospital, she been a star innit. If it wasn’t for her I’d go through hell, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”

Although Liz’s visits helped Pathou to cope after the accident, he was left feeling very low. “I don’t feel the same after the accident, it’s not more depression. I was just feeling like it’s too much, I went from this depression, then I got run over and now I have to go through this.”

Pathou’s dad did not come and visit him the hospital as the two had not spoken in over a year. Liz realised Pathou would need to speak to his dad, not just so they could rebuild their relationship, but also in order to sort out his ID problems. Pathou needed a picture ID to receive his student loan, but the only identity documentation that Pathou held did not have his picture on. To apply for a passport or driving licence Pathou needed his birth certificate, which his father had.

“She spoke to my dad before I did. And my dad arranged it for us to meet up and my get my birth certificate.” Pathou and his dad are now speaking to each other and Pathou is looking forward to the future.

 

Pathou now feels a lot more confident and better able to contact other organisations if he needs help. He has also started seeking support from the charity Mind to help him with his depression. “Depression can kill you if you don’t have no one, but what Kineara did is like a doctor, you sent someone to help someone, and it does work.”

Pathou is now looking for a job so he can earn some money before returning to his course next year.

“Liz made everything possible for me, I’m very proud, I’m lucky. I would say to other people going through the same thing – don’t give up, keep going, keep supporting people, people need you innit. If she wasn’t there, I’d be in the streets right now.

“Right now I’m feeling better, I’m feeling alright, I just want to better my life.”

Riha and Jayani’s story

Riha* had been concerned about her daughter Jayani’s emotional wellbeing for some time before the chance arose to refer her to Kineara’s intervention, Motivate to Educate (M2E). As a family link worker who had interpreted for families taking part in our programme in a local school, Riha had seen the benefits first hand and thought the programme would be just what Jayani needed.

“I could see she was bottling things up and was feeling insecure about some things. She was lacking in confidence and with this being her final year in primary school, I was looking for some extra support to give her a confidence boost and see if she would be able to talk more with someone who is not part of the family.”

 

When Jayani first met with Anja, it was difficult to for her to open up.

“She didn’t know what the programme was about and I think she was unsure about it at first. I just told her that she would be working with someone, and that it was up to her completely what she wanted to talk to Anja about. In the first session I think she made quite clear what she felt comfortable speaking about, and Anja respected that.”

said Jayani.

Anja spent time with her, working through exercises to explore her thoughts and feelings towards school, her family and herself. She also began visiting Jayani at home, arranging sessions with Riha and her two older daughters and taking Jayani out swimming during half term. The whole programme was jointly decided – Anja would propose activities or meetings but she left it to the family to make the final decisions.

Riha says, “For example, we talked about if I wanted my other family members involved, at what point in the intervention that would be, and what we would address in those meetings. We talked about what outcomes we were looking for from each session. So it was always discussed before and it was very clear what the expectations were. It made a huge difference to know what I was getting into.”

“Anja made us feel really comfortable, and made things really easy. When I was interpreting for other families having sessions with her at school, I worked with her for the benefit of that other family. But when we had our own sessions Anja made it easy to be open. She was very professional but also very personable, very clear in how she communicates with me about next steps in the programme, and also very warm and made me feel so comfortable. She was also very flexible and very adaptable to everything we were going through.”

It soon became clear that Riha’s separation from her daughters’ father some years before had been effecting the family for some time. Just as this began to be explored, Riha’s older daughter Olivia was suddenly hospitalised. Her father wanted to visit, but he hadn’t seen her or Jayani for over two years.

Without Anja’s support, I probably wouldn’t have broached the subject in the first place and we would be in the same place we were in October.

With concerns about the impact of this on the whole family, Anja was there to help the family manage. Jointly, the family decided how and when he could visit, and began setting out arrangements for him to begin meeting Jayani more regularly, which both of them wanted to happen.

“Anja was a huge support when that happened. She sat down with the whole family and together we put together some ground rules, based on what I wanted for my daughter but also based on what Jayani needed and wanted – she wanted to see him but wasn’t saying that because she didn’t want to upset me or hurt me. We decided it needed to happen, and set about figuring out how, when and where and set some conditions based on what they and I were comfortable with. He has taken Jayani out twice now, and that relationship is slowly building.”

Most importantly, the support Anja gave Riha gave her the strength and tools to address these issues when they came up again. “Without Anja’s support, I probably wouldn’t have broached the subject in the first place and we would be in the same place we were in October.”

For Jayani and the whole family, the change has been really noticeable. Her confidence has improved and she is becoming more and more open with Riha about concerns she has or things that are on her mind, in particular about her father. For her part, Riha’s emotional well-being has also improved greatly, helping to build her relationship with Jayani.

“It’s made a difference for the whole family really, so the holistic approach of the programme has been great for all of us. And now Jayani is more open with me and our relationship is getting better and better.

Knowing I had someone I could open up to, and developing tools to communicate better with my daughters about issues effecting all of us, was so important for me. Reflecting on things I had gone through and addressing them has helped close the lid on some issues and move on. It’s been fantastic!”

Note: Names have been changed to protect residents’ identity. 

Desmona

Desmona was employed for 10 years before the company she was working for folded and she was made redundant. It was a shock to the system, she tells us: ‘I left school early but I have always worked, and not having a job felt awful’.

By the time it got to Christmas, things became really difficult. Desmona was living through winter with little or no food, no heating or electricity, and surviving on the kindness of neighbours to bring her something to eat. Feeling more and more distressed, her employment support worker, recommended Liz came on board to provide more intensive and emotional support as she continued to look for work.

“When I met Liz, I just knew immediately that she would be someone who’d bring positivity into my life. She was like a sister to me.”

“Liz calmed me. She came just at the right time. If she hadn’t, I really think I would have ended things”.

said Desmona.

At first, Desmona had been given lots of practical advice and support. Her employment support worker trained her to use the computer and CV Library, and she slowly gained confidence using them. When Liz came along, she knew it wouldn’t be long before a job came along as she was getting interviews, going through 20 before finally securing a job.

But there were many other things that made the process difficult and had been taking an extremely emotional toll. Going to bed hungry and in the cold was tough enough.

Then, one day her boiler broke down, flooding her entire flat and her neighbour’s flat below. “That boiler had been breaking down for three years and they never fixed it properly.

That day, when I saw the water coming down, I was so shocked and upset – I didn’t know what to do. I called Liz, who supported me that night and then advocated for me with my landlord. She wrote a complaint letter and pushed them to replace my boiler with a new one.”

I didn’t know what to do. I called Liz, who supported me that night and then advocated for me with my landlord.

“But it wasn’t just that. If I needed someone to talk to, she was there. If I needed money for food or for the bus, she helped me secure a grant or provided a bit of money for my Oyster card. I know that any issue, big or small, is as important to Kineara as the next one. And this is something that I really appreciated.”

“I don’t know what I would have done without her. You guys saves lives, you really do”.

Desmona looks at the struggles she faced getting another job as a learning experience for her.

“It was an education. Learning to be patient, learning to be positive, learning to be professional – it was all an education. I struggle with literacy so even writing up my CV, or applications to jobs, was like going back to school because there was so much to learn. But I just stayed positive and tried to remember that if I keep putting in the effort, a job will come.”

Now, she is working two different jobs in cleaning, which is what she was doing before.

“I am loving it – just getting up in the morning and going out, doing my work, talking to people, all of it”

She also has plenty of advice for other people who find themselves in similar situations.

“I would tell people that you can get a job, and there are people out there to help. But you must believe in yourself and believe it will happen”.

Bandita’s Story

In January 2014 Bandita and her family were referred to the Rent Support Programme and Kineara practitioner Mary went to meet them to see how she could help. Ranveer and Bandita, and their three sons, were facing eviction from their home in Tower Hamlets because rent arrears had spiralled out of control.

Ranveer and eldest son Nadish both suffer from long term debilitating health problems. Mum Bandita had stopped working to look after them and raise her other two sons, Arjit and Baru. Nobody in the family had been able to work for a long time and they had been unable to keep-up with paying their rent.

“I was just sitting in this corner and crying what to do. No one’s listening. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know, physically I’m not well and no one can understand me and I just receive a letter from Housing, you have to pay this, this, this and I said, I can’t go and tell them I don’t have money,” said Bandita.

Years spent caring for her husband and sons with no support from family who live abroad have taken their toll. Last year Bandita donated a kidney to Nadish and has still not fully recovered from the operation.

Feeling isolated, depressed and confused, Bandita had also considered suicide. Bandita’s Housing Officer recognised that this wasn’t a case of someone who didn’t want to pay – losing their home would be devastating for the family.

“She said ‘I’m not promising, but I’m going to refer you to Kineara, you need support,’” Bandita explained. “I said, what kind of support? What they going to do for me?”

She helped me in every way, emotionally she supported me so much first and then she helped me about my many issues, my rent, my benefits, my financial crisis

When Mary met Bandita she realised that mentally and physically Bandita was struggling. She spoke with Bandita about her family, her home and her problems. She found out the family were in a lot of debt through borrowing from friends to manage the needs of her son’s illness. Then, as she became more depressed, friends lost interest and she felt more and more isolated.

Debts mounted up and Bandita wasn’t sleeping with worry for her family. She fell into a vicious cycle of not sleeping, anxiety, depression and uncertainty. As Mary began to understand the complexities of the family’s issues, she helped Bandita take back some control of her situation.

 She persuaded the Housing Association landlord to defer eviction proceedings and supported Bandita to apply for disability living allowance.

“She helped me in every way, emotionally she supported me so much first and then she helped me about my many issues, my rent, my benefits, my financial crisis,” said Bandita. “She helped me like angel.”

Kineara’s Rent Support Programme methodology has been helping the family get back on track, and has given Bandita the boost she needed.

“Mary helped me like a sister, like a friend, like she’s my well-wisher. Trust me, in my whole life no one helped me. Now I’ve changed so much, before, I was like, ask my children, I was like in so much depression, she went with me to talk to everyone, she helped me so much and I’m so happy.”

Before she left work Bandita volunteered at a local SureStart centre. Since meeting Mary she has gone back to volunteering and is looking forward to working with children again.

She has also made a new friend at the college she attends, and is thinking about starting her own business. “I’m very, very happy and very relaxed inside, she took my problems, even lots of things I feel shy to tell people, she gave me support,” said Bandita.

Note: Names have been changed to protect residents’ identity. 

Owen’s Story

Moving homes is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, but community cohesion project New Beginnings is making moving a positive experience. Owen was one of 55 households that moved into a new building in Stepney in 2014, initially nervous about the move, he is now thrilled to be in his new flat and feeling really positive about the future.

“If someone were to tell me at the start of the year I’d be in a brand new flat, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Owen. “I was star-struck when I walked in the first time, it’s lovely because it looks right over London and you can see the Shard. It’s all brand new, state of the art, I just love it.”

Before the residents moved in the New Beginnings team, Gail and Anja, met with all the residents to ask them if they were facing any issues around the move. Now all the residents have moved in, they will start the next stage of the project and get the community together to identify how they can work together to build a strong community identity.

Owen, like many other residents, was at first apprehensive about the move. He had lived in flat in Bethnal Green with his mother, who sadly passed away in April 2013, for over 30 years. But the three bedroom flat was too big for Owen and Tower Hamlets council asked him to downsize as there is a shortage of properties in the borough. “After everything I’ve been through the last couple of years, when the council told me I had to move, I thought, I really don’t need this, I really don’t want to move, but obviously I had to.”

Owen applied for a number of flats via the home seekers scheme, but still had doubts about moving. “When I first saw the building, it was like a building site, and I thought I don’t know what that’s going to be like. I applied for it, but I thought, it could be a really horrible place.”

Owen was told he had been allocated a flat in the new building. Anja and Gail met with Owen before the move and asked him if he had any concerns they could help with. “Both of them I really feel comfortable around, in a professional manner, they’re really lovely,” said Owen.

“I know they help all the residents, but they’ve been really helpful and I really appreciate it. It makes it easier knowing someone’s on your side.”

I know they help all the residents, but they’ve been really helpful and I really appreciate it. It makes it easier knowing someone’s on your side.

Anja and Gail helped Owen arrange a moving van, make a claim for his downsizing payment and sort out his bills and finances. “Without their help it could have been really daunting,” said Owen

As well as being nervous about moving, Owen was worried about his finances and hoping to find a job. He worked for the Quakers as a concierge eight years ago but quit to look after his mother when she became unwell. He became her full-time carer for the next seven years.

Being out of employment for so long had taken its toll on Owen’s confidence and he was not sure how to find another job as a concierge. “I’ve always been confident, but the last couple of years with everything that happened, my whole life just collapsed.”

Gail and Anja are now helping Owen to find a job. “A couple of months ago I mentioned to Anja I wanted a job, and I thought she had forgot, but she called me up and said, ‘I’ve put your name down for a Security Industry Authority course’, which is what you need no to work in security.”

Anja went with Owen to the interview for moral support. “She was really helpful, I was really nervous having to go there, but we were talking on the way and it took my mind off my nerves.”

A few days later he found out he’d got a place on the course. “Anja rang me and she said, ‘Did you get on the course? And I said ‘Ah, I didn’t get on.’ And she said ‘Oh I’m sorry’ and I said, ‘I’m sorry . . . but I start on Monday!’ And she said ‘Owen don’t do that do me!”

Owen is excited to be in his new flat and starting a new training course; he’s looking forward to the future and hopes he will find a job soon.

“When you move in they give you this great big pack, you’re supposed to read it, and it’s like War and Peace trying to read it. The pack we got, it’s called New Beginnings, and that’s very apt, because it is a New Beginning for me.”