Foster placements had deteriorated due to her erratic behaviour and constant need to abscond, which ultimately resulted in her being placed in children’s homes and secure units within them to prevent her from running away.
“I ran away over 200 times”, revealed Zoe. “I just did not feel safe in my care home and I felt no real sense of belonging to anyone”.
This behaviour continued until her ‘boyfriend’ came on the scene. He was someone who showed her some ‘love and care’. “He showered attention on me, brought me gifts, took me away to hotels and gave me the special treatment”, she disclosed.
Her 'boyfriend' was in care in London and a county lines drug runner who made frequent trips to the Bedford area. “I believed that he was in love with me, but there were times where his behaviour towards me would make me angry and upset”, she added. “He called me his ‘best girl’, but he would also say that to other girls too. Because I had low self-confidence, I kept on going back to him”.
Zoe claims that she was never asked to look after drugs for him, or sell them for him.
Zoe was referred to The Seeds of Change following her refusal to attend any formal education setting. Initially her demeanour and attitude were closed and she found eye contact difficult. She was also very concerned with her appearance and wanting to look good.
As her one-to-one sessions progressed, she relaxed and cared less about her appearance. “The horse made me feel more comfortable in myself, I know that it didn’t care what I looked like and wouldn’t judge me on my past,” she added. “It just wants my love and time.”
Her ability to build and develop healthy and positive relationships with others was growing, and she often said to her coach that she felt listened to, valued, and worthy. “The horse calms me down, makes me feel more chilled, and helps me to focus my mind on what is important”, Zoe said. She continued, “It gives me time away from reality, and helps me to realise that there is more I could be doing with my life”.
Zoe has continued to progress at The Seeds of Change and is completing a City and Guilds Employability qualification. She has also started to attend another alternative provision which is going well. Her personal life has also improved; she is now in a stable foster home and trying to steer clear of disruptive and manipulative influences in her life.
If you would like to find out more about these issues, please consider attending our upcoming event on County Lines and Child Exploitation. To view more information and to book your place, please follow this link