How connecting our services
kept this family together
Story by Grant Davies – Emphasis Support Worker
I can’t say for sure why Toby* opened up to me. Maybe it’s because I have three boys of my own so understand young men quite well.
Maybe it’s because I’m a man, so he found it easier to relate to me. I don’t know, but whatever the reason, when Toby started answering my calls and engaging with support, we were all very surprised. And very pleased! I first met Toby and his mum about a month or so ago. They live in a beautiful house in a nice area. Toby’s mum had recently started a business but unfortunately due to Covid she was really struggling with it. Toby’s dad has never really been in the picture.
Toby’s behaviour and cannabis use was really upsetting things at home, but if I’m honest they were both very stressed, which caused tension and arguments from both sides. Toby’s mum is quite strict about the cannabis use and wouldn’t tolerate it, so there came a time when she nearly asked Toby to leave. The fact she hadn’t done so told me there was still hope for their relationship.
Giving up on this family was never an option for us. We knew as a team we had the right services and skills to support them. Alongside my support, Llamau’s Advice service stepped in to seek out support where it was available. We also arranged for Toby to stay with one of our Supported Lodgings providers for a short time; giving both Toby and his mum a break. Apart from not liking the food and the taste of their toothpaste, Toby found this time away just as helpful as his mum did.
When Toby returned home, my support remained in place for both him and his mum.
I think it’s equally as important to get to know and support a young person’s parents or guardians as it is for me to get to know the young person themselves. They need to be treated as though they’re a team, so you don’t just pay attention to one side.
Getting to know Toby’s mum has ultimately helped me create a calmer environment within the home. Sometimes she just needs someone to listen and show they understand. Once she’s had this time to talk, she can think rationally, rather than making spur of the moment decisions.
Getting to know Toby has allowed me to see he’s actually a very attentive and mature young man for his age, and has a pretty good idea of what he wants from life. He’s felt quite upset about the break-up of his parents and at one point he was living with another family member who made it quite clear that she didn’t want him around anymore. Toby definitely has anxiety because he doesn’t know what’s around the corner, which I’ve been able to explain to his mum, creating an understanding that perhaps wasn’t there before.
Very early into our conversations, Toby told me how interested he was in becoming an Electrician, because that’s what his grandfather was before he retired. His mum supported his ambitions and she felt his grandfather could help him along the way. It’s great when you find common ground in a relationship like this. I’ve been able to support Toby to get into college and begin his studies, which he starts very soon. He’s also just told me he has a job interview this week, which is an incredibly positive step for him – and his mum. Toby recently sent me a text to thank me for my help, which meant a lot considering he was so quiet and disengaged at one point.
I’m really pleased to say that there’s been a noticeable difference in just how well Toby and his mum get on now, which I think is the result of having the right support in place for them both. Things are not perfect but that’s okay because no family is perfect.
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