SEACOLE: Long term goals achieved with small intermediate steps

Sometimes life goes so badly out of control that it would be easy to think there’s no coming back from it. However, with structured support, encouragement and guidance, there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

18-year-old Josh* was referred to Turning Lives Around (TLA) after being released from prison for arson, he was at a low ebb.

In addition to his previous offending, Josh’s behaviour was chaotic and aggressive; he had mental health issues including personality disorder and self-harming; he was self-medicating and as well as having difficulties managing prescribed medication was abusing alcohol and other substances; he was disengaged, had personal care and diet issues and, due to a suspended Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim, had no income.

Josh needed so much support he was allocated two TLA keyworkers - one to concentrate on daily contact and building a rapport with Josh and the other to manage documents and contact with professionals.

Within days Josh’s TLA team had a structure in place to help him get his life back on track. This included strategies for working with Josh when he was aggressive or agitated; carrying out an initial risk assessment and a management plan relating to his self-harming, ensuring Josh obtained a prescription for his medication from his GP and encouraging him to keep his medicines in the safe so they could be administered to him correctly and safely.

Keyworkers from TLA contacted DWP to get Josh’s benefit claim reinstated, ensuring an up to date sick note had been received, and enabling him to receive an emergency benefits payment to meet his basic needs. As part of his move to independence TLA keyworkers then helped Josh to budget by encouraging him to store his benefits in cash in the office and supported him with his personal care with guidance on laundry, diet, and hygiene.

A multi-agency meeting of professionals from Leeds Adult Social Care, probation, community mental health team and substance misuse services established a risk management and support plan. Josh was referred to West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for arson risk assessment and prevention support and his keyworkers liaised with the probation network to find a way to move forward and engage with Josh.

Slowly, thanks to the firm boundaries that TLA helped put in place, Josh’s behaviour changed. Following GP reassessment and with staff support Josh became more stable and his medications were returned to him. With the support of his TLA keyworker he started to attend appointments with medical staff, Forward Leeds and other support agencies. Eventually, he was strong enough and capable to go on his own.

A closer look at Josh’s situation revealed motivational issues which were holding him back. He was relying on his mum to deal with benefits, budgeting and attending appointments and his personal care and living conditions suffered when he was misusing substances.

His TLA keyworker encouraged him to be more responsible stressing it would make him more independent. He started to take on board more of the daily tasks himself. TLA keyworkers also encouraged him to eat healthily, exercise to improve his physical health and get involved in voluntary work as a way of making better use of his time and moving forward.

Josh’s offending history means his move on options are limited so it has been agreed that he will be accommodated long term so we can find him the best home.

* Client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for your understanding.

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