ZOE'S STORY – LOOKED AFTER CHILD

Social context

NB Names altered for anonymity

Looked after children come from a range of different backgrounds and have varied experiences of care. Each child has their own different and specific sets of needs. Their experiences before and during care makes them a particularly vulnerable group of young people. Children may enter care for all sorts of reasons, but many enter because they have been abused or neglected. These experiences can leave children with complex emotional and mental health needs, which can increase their vulnerability to abuse.

OUTCOMES and IMPACT

- Zoe now has strategies that enable her to engage positively in activities, such as 'having a go', regulating her energy levels via breathing, self-reassurance, asking for support and changing her communication style.
- Zoe acknowledges and responds to her anxiety in appropriate ways and is beginning to apply these to situations away from The Seeds of Change.
- Zoe's school report positively on her engagement and positive attitude, and she is showing some awareness of how what she's learned about herself during her time here, could support her through challenging and emotional times.
- Zoe has greater confidence in her own ability.

Background to case

Zoe started at The Seeds of Change in January 2020, when she was in Year 9. She attends a weekly 1:1 session and continued to attend through the Coronavirus lockdown. For the duration of her programme, Zoe has been living in a care home, having been taken into care in Year 9. She was referred with a history of anger issues and with non-attendance at her previous school.

Zoe was so keen to learn about horses and their care that she is willing to try all activities asked of her, however she was very anxious around them. This resulted in her being nervous about getting physically close to the horses and unsure of her own abilities with them. She was polite towards coaches and spoke about her home and school life fairly openly. Early on in her sessions she shared with her coach that she self-harmed 'almost every day'

Process at The Seeds of Change

Her love of horses has been key in developing self-awareness, empathy and understanding of relationships. She doesn't trust people but through working with her chosen horse she accepted that she learned to trust him and that he also trusted her. She recognised that when she communicates calmly and clearly, her relationships improve and was able to transfer this to 'trying really hard to communicate more' with her care home staff, reporting that she then felt more supported by them when experiencing conflict with another resident.
The bond Zoe built with the horses is pivotal to her 'trying out' new ways of being with people and addressing social interactions. She sees herself differently when she reflects on how she works with the horses. She is now starting to believe these are qualities she has when away from here.
Zoe has worked with four coaches, but each time managed these changes well. She developed good working relationships and a willingness to 'have a go', engaging in all tasks and building confidence steadily at her own pace. Although sometimes anxious with tasks, she is able to express her reluctance but completes the tasks asked of her.
Zoe dislikes paper-based tasks, however, she's become more confident and willing to engage in these, demonstrating increased self-awareness and a more positive attitude towards her achievements.