A turning point for Sarah after 11 years in the care system

‘Sarah’ came to us after spending a significant amount of time in various forms of care. She entered the care system at the age of seven, and bounced around multiple foster placements, moving on a regular basis.

When Sarah turned 18, she had ‘aged out’ of the care system, and came to us to finally get some independent living skills and extra support, along with the housing that she needed. However, engaging with her support team, and managing to live independently was a massive struggle for her.

Sarah, like the majority of care leavers we work with, had ‘had enough’ of the professional services that she had been in contact with nearly all her life. At her pre-tenancy meetings, she expressed apprehension and irritation that she would be expected to engage with her support worker on a regular basis, and develop a support plan. Sarah wanted to stand on her own two feet, get on with her life, and in her words, ‘be left alone’.

Whilst I totally understood why Sarah would feel this way, and sympathised, it was still clear that she needed additional support in order to learn how to live independently; Sarah struggled with her mental health, money management and new relationships along with other issues, it was clear that Sarah wasn’t ready to live without support just yet.

In the 10 months I worked with Sarah, it often felt like a constant battle to get her to engage and allow us to provide the support she required. She was very guarded, and at this point had signed out of every other service, against advice and despite having many of her issues unresolved.

However, a breakthrough was made at the beginning of the year, and Sarah finally let me in, she opened up about her history and the reasons for not wanting to work with professionals, and shying away from support. This difficult conversation was the turning point in our relationship and since then we were able to work together to improve her life skills, and allow Sarah to get to where she wanted to be.

By getting to this point, we were able to get her the help for her mental health, with Sarah re-engaging with specialist services to give her the help she needed. I was also able to speak to Sarah and offer guidance on money management, which she took on board and began to manage her money better. This in turn allowed her to get access to social housing and be accepted for a new build house in the area she wanted to be. I am delighted to say that Sarah was ready to move on from us and live independently, and has recently moved in to a wonderful property with a local social housing provider.

My job is rarely easy, and working with young people who are reluctant to engage for a variety of reasons is part and parcel of the experience. However, Sarah’s story is a testament to the fact that despite long periods of non-engagement and difficulty, eventually a trusting professional relationship can be built, and can be enough to change a young person’s life for the better.  

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