Barnardo’s Cymru is commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to work within selected secondary schools in Gwent and identify young people who are at risk from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
The Divert project identifies vulnerable young people using a series of indicators which include:
• Episodes of missing from home / care / school
• Poor attendance in school
• Mental health / physical health concerns
• Substance use in carers / family
• Negative peer association
• Young person’s use of drugs or alcohol
• Criminality in carer / family
Support workers then work with the young people and their families to address the root causes of the behaviour.
The work is part of the wider Serious Violence and Organised Crime Project, which is funded by the OPCC and the Home Office, to address serious and organised crime and violence across Gwent.
A referral was submitted for a client following an incident where a group of young girls were allegedly smoking spice in school. The whole family agreed to access support and a visit was arranged at the home with a key worker and family support worker.
Support with the client has largely focused on substance misuse and risk taking behaviour. Initially they were heavily involved in cannabis use and taking unnecessary risks out in the community. They now understand the dangers involved around drug use as well as the consequences and as a result she has significantly reduced her intake.
Through further sessions it was apparent that the client suffered with anxiety. The Divert key worker therefore incorporated coping mechanisms and calming techniques that would support the client when she becomes anxious. The client has reported that she uses these at school and at home if she feels her anxiety building up. In addition to this the key worker uses feeling cards in each session to explore how the client is feelings and how these feelings can impact on her and others. As a result, the client’s behaviours in school have improved and her relationships with her peers and her family are much better.
Throughout this time the client’s mother has also been accessing support via the Divert family support worker. When discussing family life it became apparent that the family had gone through enormous trauma. There is a history of domestic violence, poor mental health, learning disabilities, substance misuse and sibling imprisonment as well as parental separation. A large portion of the sessions have focused on communication skills and building the relationship between the client and her mother.
In addition to this a safety plan has been created and the mother has been proactive in ensuring that the client remains safe and risks are reduced. As a result of the support both the mother and the client report that their relationship has improved significantly, with them both enjoying quality time together.
Support is now being offered virtually for the client and her mother as a result of COVID-19. Both continue to report positive improvements.