When I first met Alison (not her real name), three months ago, she
asked me to help her apply for GCSE courses as she was in year 12
and had just dropped out of a college course. But from our initial
meeting, it became clear that there were other areas in her life
that she needed guidance with.
Alison is in foster care but still has contact with her father. She
is looked after by a different local authority than the one where
she now lives with her foster family. Because of this it seems she
cannot access any local services here without paying for them. She
and her father have irregular family therapy sessions which leave
her anxious and she was self-harming. My role with Alison quickly
changed as I saw she was not getting the services she needed.
During our sessions, Alison and I drew up an action plan that
included some immediate changes she wanted, and some long-term
goals. With Alison’s permission, I contacted her social worker, her
psychiatrist and her foster parents to arrange a review meeting.
She felt this meeting was a good way to begin to ask for the help
that she needed and she used her action plan to focus on how others
could support her.
In the meeting, Alison said she wanted to take part in some work
experience. She felt this could help her confidence and she could
learn new skills before she went to college in September to retake
her GCSEs. I spoke with the company which organises work experience
locally to ask if they could help Alison. They said it would cost
£150 per term. Fortunately the leaving care team in the other
borough agreed to provide the funding.
Alison is still self-harming and although I have found a therapy
group for her she cannot join it because it takes place in this
local authority rather than the authority which has responsibility
for looking after her. It is frustrating for her, as she is aware
that she is ready for individual counselling. However, the waiting
lists are long and we are still unsure which local authority the
counselling will be in! Alison sometimes finds it difficult to look
to her future when her past is unresolved.
We met her social worker last week to complete a pathway plan for
the leaving care team and we are preparing to apply for her college
place next year. But September is a long time away and I need to
try to support Alison in the mean time to keep her focused on her
long-term goals. It is going to be difficult for both Alison and
myself unless we can access the support she needs.