Amy was a 14 year old young female when she was referred to Common Thread residential living after spending a period of time accommodated in a secure accommodation unit. The major concerns for Amy centred around suicidal ideation and she was at a high risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) as a result of continuous absconding and attention seeking behaviours. Amy had been groomed by older males via internet/social media use. However, there were other significant concerns for Amy, which also required to be addressed. Amy displayed a concerning level of trauma behaviours related to childhood neglect, and the impact of witnessing domestic violence between her main caregivers. With the loss of a sibling through illness there were additional significant issues around grief and loss. These issues were further compounded through years of poor diet and eating patterns, which resulted in her being overweight and having low self-esteem. Amy had also missed a large part of her education and was not reaching her full potential. At the time of being placed at Common Thread, Amy had been made the subject of a TAG, in order to keep her safe and within a caring environment during night time hours.
Following Common Thread’s matching process, Amy was placed in one of our small group living homes. After an initial period of stabilisation, which enabled a reduction in Amy’s fears and anxieties of being placed in residential care, it became clear that she was starting to relate to staff and the consistent nurturing environment in which she was placed. Amy started to feel safe and show trust in the staff team, she began to build relationships that enabled her to open up and talk about her fears and worries.
Once more settled, counselling services were initiated which helped with Amy’s mental well-being through addressing her issues around separation and loss and early childhood abuse. This provided Amy with alternative coping mechanisms and reduced her self-harming behaviours.
Strict monitoring of Amy’s use of internet and social media provided the safety around which staff were able to address her susceptibility to sexual exploitation. With gradual positive role modelling and appraisal, Amy started to gain confidence in her own identity and develop positive relationships with others. She participated in courses directed at enhancing her understanding of exploitation and how to identify the signs of grooming and address this appropriately. Amy’s self-esteem started to develop and she presented more confident in herself. Amy started to show her creative talents, of which she had a few, and was supported to take part in additional music and art therapies. Amy showed a desire to learn to cook and the staff team encouraged this via healthy cooking options that targeted weight issues as well as helping towards independent living skills. Amy’s absconding behaviours stopped and she no longer felt this was something she needed to do. She did not abscond once during her time with Common Thread, giving a clear indication of how safe and settled she was.
A be-spoke timetable was put in place for Amy’s education. This was provided at Amy’s pace and with her input. Amy gained in confidence and ability within her educational placement and started working toward her goal of attending a college course.
Amy continues to do well. She now presents as a young adult who is more capable of moving through her life without some of the issues which were preventing her from reaching her full potential. Amy now has coping skills in place that she can use, and she understands how she can access help and support in future should she need to. Amy worked towards her goal to attend a college course and continues to progress within independent living.
The above information depicts a real Common Thread case study. The name of the young person involved has been changed to protect their identity.