“With every deed, you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see” – Ella Wheeler Willcox

By Joy Wakenshaw.

It was over eight years when Care Visions welcomed a fifteen year old girl to their residential service in the south region. During the year and a half before that, she had experienced sixteen placements, all of which had broken down.

This young girl had experienced multiple losses in her life. She was grieving, overwhelmed and felt unable to cope. When she came to Care Visions, she had a heroin addiction and was taking daily risks.

Using their knowledge of the Sanctuary Model, staff could look to see how, what had happened to her, was influencing her behaviour. Staff at the residential service offered her unconditional positive regard. They accepted her without judgement and began the process of helping her see herself the way others saw her; an intelligent young woman with much to offer. In order to break free from the hold of her addiction, staff needed to help her find reasons to want to change. Staff created opportunities for her to explore her feelings in the context of her past experiences and in responding to her lead, they maximised opportunities to develop trust, help her feel safe and deal with the overwhelming sense of grief from which she seemed to be drowning. They knew that she simply couldn’t face the future because she was trapped in the past. Yet at the same time, all they could see was her potential.

During her placement staff embarked upon life-story work, within the Sanctuary S.E.L.F. framework. Amidst many challenges and relapses things started to change and staff, after many months of not giving up, began to see a young woman who was daring to look to the future. Partnership work with addiction services proved successful, as did activities aimed at widening social circles. Understanding risk taking behaviours in view of her vulnerability, and helping her to engage in risk management strategies was key to helping her make safer choices. This young lady’s placement with Care Visions was her longest ever. She eventually secured her own flat and staff kept in contact with her for some time.

More recently she re-established contact with Sheena Hannigan and Caroll Estensen, both of whom cared for this young lady. This incredible young woman, now aged twenty-three has a daughter of her own. She is now training to do a job which carries considerable responsibility and has much to look forward to. She recalled, with passion, her fond memories of her time with Care Visions and expressed gratitude for the persistent efforts of staff to keep her safe, help her deal with her substance misuse problem and manage the risks she often placed herself at. It is poignant that she refers to the parenting she experienced with Care Visions as being so significant in helping teach her how to care for her own daughter. It was a late harvest, but well worth waiting for.

Joy Wakenshaw is Head of Care Visions Residential Services (South).

Care Visions Residential is Scotland’s largest independent provider of residential services for children and young people who have complex needs.

Visit carevisionsresidential.co.uk