Intensive care turns around disruptive boy

Two years after meeting care worker Debbie Ching, 13-year old James Chester* is on track to fulfil his ambition to become a “normal boy”. Below, they tell their story.

● Debbie Ching:

“When James came to us two years ago he was described as ‘disruptive, abusive and violent, with a lack of awareness of acceptable behaviour or social skills’. The positives were that he was polite, good humoured and he had stated that all he wanted was to ‘be a normal boy’. He was 12 years old and had come from a chaotic background with little or no routine or boundaries.

He had health issues that had not been addressed by his mother, who struggled to cope with his behaviour and found it difficult to provide a consistent and structured environment for him and his siblings. James preferred spending time helping out on building sites rather than attending school.

Although a gradual process, through encouragement and consistency James now attends school full-time, which is helping him to develop both socially and academically. The unfortunate death of his mother brought about feelings of guilt and a lack of belonging. We ensured community ties were maintained by initiating contact with his friends and extended family and, through direct work, we are attempting to help James understand feelings stirred by the loss of his mum.

Realistic goals are in place regarding his diet to help raise his self-esteem and we’ve sought advice from attachment therapists to address the possessiveness James felt towards me after his mum died.

His progression is a testament to the support and guidance that the staff have provided. James appears to have adjusted and responded positively and I was very proud to accompany him to receive an education achievement award in Salford in January. He is well on his way to fulfilling his ambition to become that ‘normal boy’.”

Debbie Ching is a careworker for Crosskeys, a two-bed home in the Stockport area for young people aged between 11 and 15 operated by the Together Trust.

● James Chester:

“I was with my mum and my social worker when I first met Debbie, my new key worker. She was with the manager, who has long hair, and my mum said: ‘Which one’s Debbie?’ Everybody laughed and I thought that Debbie looked nice.

I was really nervous about going to my new home because it’s miles away from where I live. Debbie sorted it for my best friend to come with me when I looked round. This helped me and my mate reckoned my new home was pretty cool. The house was not massive like my last home – just two kids and pretty small.

When I went there I wasn’t in school but I wanted to be. One of the first things Debbie did was to get me doing school work at home, then she helped me to settle into my new school. I knew some of the kids already but the staff still helped me to get used to it. I love it now.

Sometimes when I feel down I just go to my room and sit there on my own. Debbie is nice to me, she’s my friend. I can talk to her on my own and the rest of the staff are great too. Debbie helped me when my mum died, she came to the funeral. I wanted her to come and she did.

Debbie and the staff help me keep in touch with my mates and my family – she even sorted out me going camping with some of my mates from home. I want to do that again this year. I’ve done loads of things here: scouts, camping, concerts.

But the best was camping with my mates. That was top.”

* James Chester is not his real name

➔ For more information e-mail:, 0161 283 4790

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 Anabel Unity Sale

This article appeared under the headline “Boy on the road to achieving ambition of being ‘normal’

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