Avocet House Case Study 2

George came to us at 11 years 8 months old

George joined us form a children’s home setting in Kent. He had been a subject of a care order following disclosures of sexual abuse by his older brother. At the time he was living with his father and evidence in the paperwork showed serious concerns around the extended maternal family close to mother and concerns around mother’s ability to keep him safe.

It was also not a clear picture of where older brothers abusive behaviour had come from. Effectively, this meant that although he was the primary victim there was no perceived place of safety for George in respect of the family.  The move brought George closer to home and with it the opportunity to explore how best he could be supported with an almost impossible situation.

George had many positive qualities and indeed viewed the move as a positive one but irrespective of this he was justifiably a very angry young man about his overall situation. Indeed over the course of his placement George has been responsible for more staff injuries than all the boys admitted to Avocet House put together.

Learning Journey

Achievements

  • St Johns Ambulance Young First Aider – Parts 1,2,3
  • ASDAN Bronze Award
  • Food Life Skills Certificate
  • ASDAN Silver Challenge Award
  • BTEC Home Cooking L1
  • Entry L3 Science
  • BTEC Money and Finance L2
  • BTEC Vocational studies L1
  • Arts Award Bronze

In an educational setting he was extremely distractible, hyperactive and constantly on his own agenda.  He could not cope in group situations and conflicts with adults and children were frequent.  Nevertheless his attendance at the learning centre was positive from outset and the personalised curriculum built around him and his interests began to engage him.

George was fascinated with weapons and war. Indeed this was reflected in many aspects of his life. His toys were soldiers, tanks and ‘Bionicles’.  The care team’s early experiences of informal play was in getting down to floor level playing with George who always had to win and destroy the other side.  His early bespoke play therapy sessions took a similar track with soldiers and armies in the sand pit.

In the learning centre this interest or preoccupation was not resisted, it was embraced. His fascination with weapons was used as a vehicle for learning about history, technology, mechanics and culture.  George made working models of Roman basilicas, alongside which he had to learn about Roman civilization and why they were capable of advanced technology.  His studies have continued over the course of his time with us and George developed a very sophisticated understanding of history, peoples, culture and conflict.

The above is just one illustrative strand of many, many strands that have made up his educational journey. One highlight is that his reading age has leapt from 7yrs to 13yrs 3 months in the space of three years.

George no longer presents any behavioural issues within the context of Avocet House and indeed presents as a young man who loves learning for learning sake.

Therapeutic Journey

After an initial settling in period George started play therapy sessions with our consultant child and adolescent therapist. His early responses referred to above progressed and the work extended out to our consultant working alongside key Avocet House staff, George and his mother, concentrating on building their mother/son relationship.  Initially mum presented as lacking confidence and to a degree ineffectual in the face of demanding behaviour from George.

George viewed the relationship in terms of materially driven short-term gains i.e. “what can I get out of the visit/contact”.

The work continued with mother coming into Avocet House on a weekly basis and things have progressed so far that George and mother enjoy a healthy relationship of mutual respect and support without any putting unfair demands upon the other.

Whereas mother was coming in on a weekly basis to engage in the therapy work it progressed to fortnightly to study alongside George for a BTEC Diploma in Home Cooking, taught and lead by the Avocet House Learning Centre staff.  At Christmas 2011 the Coach House was set aside for George and his mother, with Mother sleeping overnight so that they could enjoy a Christmas morning together waking up in the same building. Such is the confidence in their relationship and the maturity of George that this progressed to regular weekend and holidays at home. This was the start of a progressive movement towards George ultimately living with mother at home post 16 and attending college studying a catering and hospitality course. Effectively the care plan has now changed.

Personal Journey

George no longer loses his temper and hurts people. He goes out independently into the community and stays clear of conflict. He has established friends in the local village and the parents of the local children speak highly of him. He is extremely polite and courteous and can hold his own in a variety of social settings. He travels to Norwich on a weekly basis to attend roller skating and has attended various youth groups. He has lead in supporting younger Avocet House boys in their exploration of going out independently, by mentoring and accompanying them. He was the first young person to Chair The Youth Coaching Forum held at City Academy on a monthly basis.

In July 2012 he was awarded the silver award within the Engage National Awards in the category of ‘Outstanding Personal Progress’. He has completed work experience placements in Tesco, the Co-op and at a local Devere Hotel.  All placements gave him outstanding reports.

He has completed a Tall ships sailing voyage across the North Sea to the continent, from which he gained a Practical Skills Certificate.

Latest Update

George has now left Avocet House to live locally with his mother (who was helped and supported by Avocet House to move to Norwich).  This is something that everyone thought impossible at admission.

He is attending college successfully on a Level 1 Catering Course.

He has returned to Avocet House to talk to the current children and young people about transition to independence