Project type: Case Studies

George’s story: Navigating Temporary Accommodation Challenges

George’s story: Navigating Temporary Accommodation Challenges

Our client George* along with his wife and 7-month-old baby, faced an unexpected housing crisis. With their home coming as part of his job, the family was compelled to move out of their home when company for whom he worked went into administration. Seeking assistance, they approached the council and were placed in Temporary Accommodation (TA). 

Condition of Temporary Accommodation 

Initially, the small one-bedroom basement flat provided seemed habitable. However, within the first week, the family encountered a growing mouse infestation in the living area, necessitating a relocation to the kitchen, including the baby's crib. The situation didn't just compromise the already limited space available to the family, it also caused a huge amount of stress and anxiety, especially as the baby was now essentially confined to his cot at an age when many are ready to try crawling.

Landlord Involvement 

The landlord's response was delayed, with George persistently reaching out with his concerns for six months. The landlord eventually attended the property after the family resorted to placing poison in the corners of the rooms, making it even more unsafe for the baby.

Support We Provided 

Upon referral, Kineara took prompt action by contacting the Housing Officer to assess the situation's status. The Housing Officer had made referrals to the Environmental Health department, but the case had stalled. Kineara engaged with the landlord and the Environmental Health team, emphasising safeguarding concerns for the infant. A Health and Safety application was submitted, providing evidence of the mice infestation and property damage.

Despite additional poison being laid, the infestation persisted. Kineara extended its efforts, identifying and contacting the Managing Director of the Environmental Health team, sharing evidence and prompting the MD to liaise with the council to address the infestation. Consequently, the property was removed from the list of usable TA for clients. 

The leaseholders of the building, allegedly a bank (unofficially confirmed), were advised to close and treat the entire structure due to the severe infestation following an investigation. 

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

You’ve helped us so much, we are so happy now and want to thank you for moving us and our son from such a bad place. it was terrible, mice everywhere and our son not able to be free, but now he is happy and so are we. Thank you so much

Conclusion 

With Kineara's steadfast support, George and his family were relocated to a more suitable two-bedroom long-term TA in Southwark. This transition provided a safe and appropriate living space while the family pursued social housing, having been accepted as a priority case. Kineara's intervention not only resolved the immediate issue but also empowered the family to embark on a path towards stable and secure housing.

*Names have been changed to protect client’s identity  

 

Emily’s story: Moving into a new home

Emily’s story: Moving into a new home

When we first met with Emily, she had been served a Section 21 notice by her landlord who told her he needed the property back. “It was such a nerve-wracking time”, she told us.

Many renters struggle to cover the costs of moving, even going into debt to cover deposits or moving van costs. You can help people move with a small donation to our Settle In Fund

 “I suffer from anxiety and depression already, and so was hard.” Her son, who is 6 years old, had had a hard time settling into the school he was in at that time, and Emily was unable to work while managing her mental and physical health. Learning difficulties also made it difficult for her to find support or navigate the housing market and benefits system.
As sufferers of anxiety and depression will know, the condition impacted Emily’s ability to cope with the sudden crisis and the financial pressure she was facing at that time made things even more difficult. There was one week when she was down to her last £0.30p three days before she next got paid. On top of that, she was managing undiagnosed chronic pain in her back and legs, for which she had to visit A&E.

“Sandra and Aisha are two of the loveliest ladies I’ve ever met. They are so kind and so supportive with everything. They have been like angels - really, they are diamonds! And I’m so thankful for them.”

We started to support Emily to look for properties and ease her financial situation as much as we could in the meantime, applying for Employment Support Allowance, hardship grants and energy support. But finding an affordable property in the area was difficult and disappointing at times. “The landlord was good about it – he did need the property back but it took a while to find a new place that I could afford and he was patient enough”. But it was important that we find somewhere as she did not feel safe in her home following an incident with her neighbour which endangered her safety.

We arranged viewings, attended them with her if needed, and supported Emily to register for social housing to cover all bases to find suitable housing for her and her son. As a survivor of domestic violence, we also encouraged her to try talking therapy and connected her to counselling services via local social prescribers. After several property viewings, Emily finally secured a two-bedroom property in August, close to her adult daughter is an important source support for her,

and with a 24 month tenancy agreement having made use of the council’s incentive scheme for landlords. But the week came to move, and it dawned on Emily she didn’t have any funds to even pay for the cost of moving. “With the little money I had at the time, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to even take up the new place because I couldn’t pay to move. But Sandra stepped up and helped me pay for a moving van – it was really stressful to move because I was going into debt because of it”.

Things are starting to settle down now Emily has been in the property a few months, but the start of the tenancy was not easy. Universal Credit payments, which stopped at her change of address, in turn impacted a Discretionary Housing Payment we applied for, but we are supporting her re-application and have arranged for the housing element to be paid directly to the landlord so she can avoid going into arrears. We also successfully applied for a Glasspool grant for furniture for the new home.

Throughout the process, Emily has managed to find the energy to also take care of her health and begin addressing trauma in her past. At first, it was helpful just to have Kineara’s practitioners to provide a listening ear, understanding and support: “It’s just how understanding they have been with me, they’ve seen me at really low points and they’ve been so beautiful and supportive and kind. I couldn’t have asked for better people to have come into my life, just so caring. Most people don’t know how to cope with me and my struggles, they were just there”.

And now she is taking steps to find counselling and is making the most of social prescribing through her GP, which is thankfully a closer walk to her new home than where she was before. “I’m glad the move is done, and also glad my son is in now new school, and he loves his new routine. So I’m starting to feeling settled now”.

“Sandra and Aisha are two of the loveliest ladies I’ve ever met. They are so kind and so supportive with everything. They have been like angels – really, they are diamonds! And I’m so thankful for them.”

Mrs P’s story

Mrs P’s story

Mrs P suffers from an anxiety disorder and panic attacks and had been unable to work since 2018. When her landlady decided to sell the property, she urgently needed somewhere new. Finding new properties that worked for Mrs P's mental health needs was our top priority. 

Nearly 80% of renters we support report having mental health concerns, physical health conditions or both.

In 2018 she was signed off from work after a breakdown at her workplace, and in late 2020 attempted suicide. Thankfully, she already had support around her from the Southwark Wellbeing Hub and other mental health agencies. But she had been served a Section 21 when the landlady decided to sell the property and had built up a few hundred pounds of arrears after being signed off from work and her Universal Credit payments decreasing by £200
due to the benefit cap and repayments of a DWP loan with was accidentally paid to her. We started by speaking to the potential buyers of the landlord’s property to explain to current barriers in the borough to moving tenants on Universal Credit, allowing Mrs P more time and reassuring them that we would support her to move. Eventually, the landlord decided to pursue the Section 21 eviction.

Even though I feel anxious about living in a shared place, I want to focus on the positives in that I will have company.

I am so relieved, and now I can focus on healing and making my mental health better.” 

Ms P’s anxiety disorder meant that going to viewing for properties was challenging, as was having to repeat her story to the various stakeholders involved in supporting her. Our Housing Link Worker found 20 possible new properties, but Mrs P was unable to view many of the options. She was self-conscious about how she was viewed, felt judged, and also simply found it difficult attend viewings due to her social anxiety. Still, she also continued to look for properties herself with our encouragement, and eventually found a property as a lodger with a landlord who she felt comfortable with. We supported her to apply for PIP and DHP payments; referred to her to debt charity Step Change to help tackle her previous arrears; and connected her to local foodbanks.

It was incredibly important that Mrs P found a home that was suitable for her. She told us she felt able to share a little about her mental health struggles with the new landlord and she had a good a supportive response, making her feel comfortable enough to want to settle in there. We worked with her to make sure she was receiving the income she was entitled to at her new address and encouraged her to keep up connections with the wellbeing hubs close to her.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity. 

To find out more about our support for renters in the private sector or if you have any questions about the above, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to arrange an informal chat at: info@kineara.co.uk or call 020 3976 1450.  

Tiana’s story

Tiana’s story

Tiana* was experiencing high levels of stress and difficulty concentrating in school, partly due to her parent’s separation and mum’s low mental health. The holistic support aimed to improve Tiana’s confidence, emotional awareness, and relationships. From significantly reducing stress to implementing healthy habits, the support led to amazing outcomes for both Tiana and her parents. 

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Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the youngest in our communities

I am able to talk about what is bothering me, and I have learnt that it’s better to talk about how you feel instead of holding your feelings inside.” 

Due to her parent’s separation and mum’s low mental health, Tiana was living full time with dad and visiting mum. Before joining M2E, teachers praised Tiana for her kind and helpful behaviour, but also noticed that she would become increasingly anxious, tearful and bottle up her emotions. Both Tiana’s school and family wanted to address these challenges as they noticed it was affecting her potential in school and relationships with others.

“The reason for the referral was that mum was struggling with Tiana’s behaviour because of mum’s mental health diagnosis,” explained Gail, our lead education practitioner. “We wanted to getTiana totalk about her worries and emotions more because it seemed that she kept them all to herself, for mum and Tiana to have a good relationship and for positive contact to be able to be sustained.” 

Working closely with Tiana’s teachers and parents, Gail introduced a range of creative and holistic activities. 

This included developing a vision board with Tiana’s hopes, wishes and photographs to illustrate each vision. The project was a great way for the whole family to be able to look at what Tiana wanted for her future, for herself and her family.  “Tiana’s hopes and wishes were for Mum and Dad to get along with each other, for Tiana to be a film producer or artist when she gets older, for her whole family to get along, the importance of family, and to let go of worries,” said Gail.  

In each session, Gail intorduced something interesting and creative to help Tiana focus on the activity and give her space to be open and talk about her emotions. They decided to  make some sleep spray to which Tianna said, “This helps me sleep better and helps me to relax. I spray it on my pillow and in my room before bedtime.” They also made some lavender bath salts which Tiana used to give herself time to relax and shut off from the world for a bit.  

Both Tiana’s parents and teachers have noticed that Tiana is happier and more confident… With 10 being  the highest level, Tiana’s score for overall stress went from 10 to 2, emotional distress from 6 to 0, and hyperactivity and concentration in class from 6 to 1.

“I didn’t express my feelings at home but now with the emotion cards I can pick one and we can just pick them up instead of just saying how I feel.”

After just a few sessions, Tiana started to open up about what was bothering her and what she needed help with. Reflecting on the talking sessions, Tiana said that “this was good because it helped me talk about how I felt, and it makes me feel better in my time with Gail. I am able to talk about what is bothering me, and I have learnt that it’s better to talk about how you feel instead of holding your feelings inside.” 

Due to  their consistently and hard work, the family played a key role in the success of the programme. Gail mentioned that the family implemented their new tools like the ‘emotion cards’ which helped them all express their feelings to one another, especially Tiana and mum.

“I didn’t express my feelings at home but now with the emotions card I can pick one and we can just pick them up instead of just saying how I feel,” said Tiana. She adds, “Mum told me yesterday that she feels sad when I was leaving and this made me feel happy that she said this as she would never say anything like this to me before, so it made me feel that she really does miss me when I go.” 

Following the support, both Tiana’s parents and teachers have noticed that she is happier and more confident. Tiana is now able to talk to her parents about any of her worries and fears.

“By expressing Tiana’s fears about Mum and Dad not getting on, both parents were able to look at their communication with each other,” said Gail. “And we gave advice and tools around how the family can use specific ways of communicating and talking to each other and feeding back to Tiana.”  

Based on the feedback from everyone involved and Kineara’s monitoring and evaluation model, the support led to some amazing outcomes. With 10 being  the highest level, Tiana’s score for overall stress went from 10 to 2, emotional distress from 6 to 0, and hyperactivity and concentration in class from 6 to 1. Gaid added, “Both Tiana and her parents worked extremely hard to create positive change in their lives, and I wish them all the very best.”  

*Name has been changed to protect client identity. 

To find out more about our education support in schools or if you have any questions about the above, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to arrange an informal chat at: info@kineara.co.uk or call 020 3976 1450.  

Flipz’s story

Flipz’s story

Last Augustwe met Flipz*, a care leaver who was staying with family and in the process of being evicted from his temporary accommodation in Bexley. When Carly began supporting him, the main aim was to find a long term lease in Greenwich, closer to his network of family and friends. 

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Block of flats

One time I was on the streets for over two years, waking up in doorways and selling drugs to get by. This time I stayed on the streets for a few nights, but I did what I needed to survive. That’s what block life is about, survival. It’s a risky game."

When I met Carly, Flipz told us, I was actually in a dark place. I had lost the 2 bedroom house I was staying because the landlord wanted to sell the property and wanted me out.”

His eviction notice was issued in mid-July, in the midst of Covid-19 lockdowns. He had trouble applying for housing benefits, so the payments fell out of place and his arrears were rising 

Flipz has a social worker who was supporting him at the time but after the Council labelled him intentionally homeless, he didn’t have anywhere to go. “They discharged their duty of me, they refused to house me. I was homeless for a short time – but its not the first time social services has left me homeless. One time I was on the streets for over two years, waking up in doorways and selling drugs to get by. This time I stayed on the streets for a few nights, but I did what I needed to survive. That’s what block life is about, survival. It’s a risky game. 

When Carly began supporting him, the main goal was to find a long term lease in Greenwich, closer to his network of family and friends. It needed to be as soon as possible, so that he could take his possessions from his old accommodation to a new flat, before the locks were changed and he didn’t have access to them. Carly connected to his social worker, work coach and Bexley’s private sector letting’s team to develop an integrated plan to support him into a new home. They also made sure his mental health was taken care of, and that his application for Universal Credit was put through and housing benefit set up. 

After a number of viewings, Flipz and Carly saw a flat in Greenwich that would suit him. He says it wasn’t an easy process but it worked out in the end: “At first it felt like the landlords were trying to mug us off – they’d tell us about the property but then we’d get there and it would be nothing like they’d said”.  But they kept searching and found a one bed property which he was able to move into in early November. 

Carly, James and Sandra been really helpful. Since Kineara have been involved, they’ve been a lot of help. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am now. So its frustrating and annoying that they won’t be working with me any longer.

“I’ve had people tie me up and point a gun in my face, and I’ve done it too so I’ve experienced both sides. If they reach out there will be someone who can relate, and can tell them, Bro, I’ve lived that there is another way forward.

It was a relief to move in, he said, but it is taking time to get things sorted in the property. “I only met the landlord once when I signed the tenancy, and I haven’t seen him since. He eventually arranged to repair issues with the pipes in my bathroom – there was a blockage and a horrendous and strong smell of fungus coming from the bathroom and an infestation of flies coming up through the drains. It was supposedly fixed but the guys who came did a bad job and the smell and flies are still there. I know I have to – and want to – take care of the house and be responsible but how can they expect me to care for the property when they are not doing their bit?”

We asked Flipz how he felt now that he was back in a house of his own. “Well, Greenwich is bless place, a better area than where I was. Its more towards the city and central London not far from here. I’m hoping now to get back into construction or warehouse work, which I was doing before the pandemic.”

“So I feel ok, apart from the fact that Carly’s and James’ work with me is being closed down. They have helped me to get to where I am, and now I feel I am being left in the lurch. I’m gutted and pissed off about that. They did a lot for me. But I know what I need to do, I’ve just got to keep going.”

Flipz experience shows how important consistent support really is for those young people who rely on social services.

Carly, James and Sandra been really helpful. About a month before Carly got involved with me I lost another support worker, which was hard. Since Kineara have been involved, they’ve been a lot of help. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am now. So its frustrating and annoying that they won’t be working with me any longer.” 

As a young care leaver, with experience of the criminal justice system and unstable housing, Flipz wants other young people to know the value of reaching out for help: “For young people that are out there going through things right now and struggling, it might sound stupid but if they reach out to a youth worker or a carer, or leader of some type, it will benefit them in the long run. I’ve had people tie me up and point a gun in my face, and I’ve done it too so I’ve experienced both sides. If they reach out there will be someone who can relate, and can tell them, Bro, I’ve lived that there is another way forward.  

He continued: “All Councils – Bexley, Greenwich, all of them – they need companies like Kineara and people like Carly, James and SandraFor those young people who don’t have families to support them, they can chat to a support worker or a youth worker. Social services are scary to young people, so you need services like Kineara’s to talk to and support you.” 

*Names have been changed to protect identity 

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.

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.