Shifting Perceptions

In June 2022, SHiFT partnered with The Liminal Space to host an interactive exhibition called Shifting Perceptions. The Shifting Perceptions exhibition shared the experiences of some of the children we support, and the difference SHiFT makes to lives, systems and outcomes.

We were thrilled to welcome guests from across practice, policy, research and the general public to mark the launch of SHiFT's new three-year strategy and findings from evaluation of SHiFT’s work to date. 

You can read the strategy and evaluation findings by clicking on the links above.

To find out more about the Shifting Perceptions exhibition, and to see 'the SHiFT Difference' in action, please take a look at the short film below.

 

Banquo Jr's Story

Audio file

Why SHiFT? 

Banquo Jr is a 14-year-old boy of black ethnicity who lives alone with his mother, Grace. Grace has brought him up on her own since he was small. He has never met his father.  

Banquo has had convictions for three separate knife crime incidents within four months, all occurring when he was 13 years old. An incident where he was arrested in school uniform wielding a machete at some older males led to him receiving a 12-month Youth Rehabilitation Order and being excluded from his mainstream school.  

To date, Banquo has received community sentences, however at the time of first contact with SHiFT he was deemed at high risk of receiving a custodial sentence for any future offences. He was gaining a reputation for being a habitual knife carrier, associating with older influential males who were connected to gangs in the Borough, and engaging in damaging and destructive behaviour in the community with links to organised crime in surrounding counties. As one member of the Youth Offending Team who was interviewed as SHiFT’s recent evaluation work put it, ‘this was a child whose behaviour they would ordinarily expect to “see […] escalating”. “His name was involved with things Borough-wide. It was some very serious offending.”’ Banquo’s mum, Grace, felt that she had lost control of her son and feared that he would be killed. 

Banquo’s SHiFT Guide describes him as ‘popping up’ to youth offending services, with a series of concerning behaviour over a relatively short period of time and without any historical contact with other parts of the social care system. This led to some professional anxiety around ‘where he had suddenly come from’. There was significant concern expressed from everyone who had contact with Banquo that his situation was worsening, and fast. 

 

Getting to know Banquo Jr. 

Getting to know Banquo has been a joy for his guide Holly. Banquo is an engaging and lively boy. When quiet, he could be perceived as sullen, but taking the time and giving him space to express himself results in an animated and articulate child, often presenting with a warm and welcoming smile. Banquo is relatively large for his age and therefore could easily be seen as being 16 or 17. 

Banquo’s experience of the education system has been mixed. There is a lot of past information that shows Banquo’s significant academic potential, and there is no evidence of any learning difficulties, beyond the impact of exclusions, on his opportunity to progress. 

 

Getting alongside and creating the SHiFT difference 

From early contact with Banquo, Holly identified Banquo’s ability to reflect and be insightful about what he perceives as ‘the mistakes’ he has made in the past. She believed that Banquo would have some helpful ideas about why he had got into trouble and what could help to change that. Banquo said no one had ever asked him before why he thought it had happened.  She saw the relationship they built through these conversations, and the insights Banquo shared, as a great opportunity that they could harness together. 

In Holly’s early contact with professionals who were already working with Banquo, she was met with a plethora of negative stories surrounding him and his future, with language such as the likelihood that he would either ‘kill or be killed’. This was often said in Banquo’s presence with little evidence of thought being given to the impact that might have on how he perceived himself. Holly purposefully focused on the need to shift this narrative and to help other professionals in Banquo’s life to join with her, Banquo, and his mother to put in place a plan that ensured his success.  He needed a small but cohesive team to believe in him.  

Early work involved spending time with Banquo and his mother, together and separately in numerous settings, including at home, in the park, and alongside him in the classroom. Through this, Holly learnt that Banquo had a real passion for football, alongside his academic ambition to get a full suite of GCSEs – an aspiration that could not be pursued within the alterative provision school he attended because of his exclusion. Holly believed that with the right support, Banquo could achieve his educational aspirations and was determined to help him back into mainstream education to enable this. 

Holly canvassed the Education Panel with tenacity to give him the opportunity to have a fresh start – a tenacity which, in interview with SHiFT’s Research and Evaluation Lead, Banquo described as ‘magic’. She set challenges for Banquo to help him develop the muscle needed to succeed, stretching him with additional homework and spending time with him over the Christmas holidays supporting him where needed. This commitment ignited determination in Banquo. She used this evidence of Banquo going above and beyond and achieving with education colleagues, alongside all of the information and evidence she ensured was shared about Banquo’s positive behaviour since July 2021. Banquo’s Guide supported Banquo to write to the education panel and advocate for himself, and she worked closely alongside Grace to attend meetings and ensure her voice was heard.  

Alongside this, Holly delivered on her promise to him and found a suitable local football team that he could join. On numerous occasions she picked him and took him there until he felt confident to do it himself and had developed a relationship with the team and coach. Chatting to and from these sessions became a fantastic opportunity for Holly and Banquo to talk through his day, work through any challenges, and revisit his plans. Although there were many difficult moments throughout this time, Banquo’s contact with the gang in which he was involved has dissipated fast – they were not able to deliver what his Guide could. He had found other passions, in learning and football, bolstered by someone who believes in him. As Banquo described it in interview, with SHiFT’s Research and Evaluation Lead, he carried knives partly because of the ‘thrill’. ‘So where do you get your thrills from now?’, she asked. ‘Football’, Banquo answered.  

Holly worked tirelessly to encourage those around him to believe in him too, genuinely like him and see a positive future. She showed them how understanding the hook for change for each child on each day can keep the momentum going and build a trusting relationship. Her work alongside Grace has enabled Banquo to re-establish a relationship with his mum and regain her trust. 

Banquo’s request to return to mainstream school was received positively following the joint advocacy and aspiration-led work of Banquo, his mum and Banquo’s Guide. Banquo has just finished his first term back in mainstream school where he is studying for 8 GCSEs and is a member of the school football team. His Guide visits him in school on a weekly basis to talk through any issues he is having and to touch base with school staff and nip any emerging concerns or needs in the bud. The six-week review meeting has just been held and the school praised Banquo highly for how he has settled in. Banquo has fully achieved his targets of ‘being safe’ and ‘being respectful’ and has only minor improvements to make in punctuality to lessons to fully achieve his target of ‘being ready for learning’. Banquo was also praised for being proactive in asking for help to meet his academic needs: he has approached the Maths department to ask for some additional support and this will now be actioned by the school.  

When Holly started working with Banquo five services were involved in his life. He is now being supported only by his Guide, the Youth Offending Service and his Charlton Athletics Mentor. On the strength of Holly’s work with Banquo, social care support has been stepped down – Banquo was being assessed as a Child In Need but colleagues concluded that there was no role for them because SHiFT and the Youth Offending Service were fulfilling those needs effectively. The intensity of support from the Youth Offending Service has now also decreased, initially to twice a week and now to once a week, some of which are virtual meetings or calls because of Banquo’s strengths and progress. At the end of this reporting period, Banquo assessed four of the seven domains of his life reflected in SHiFT’s Exploration Tool as excellent (5), and three as very good (4). This represents an increase across five domains when compared to his reporting in the last quarter. In short, Banquo is flourishing.  

Banquo’s work with Holly is helping him to feel more empowered to advocate for his rights as a child and communicate through official processes to challenge authority status quo. He has gained confidence from this that, with the right support and attitude, he can achieve anything. Most importantly, this work between Banquo and Holly is helping him to reset the foundations of his life and feel that he is not defined by his mistakes and can build a better and positive future. 

Jaimie's Story

Audio file

Why SHiFT? 

Jaimie is a 17-year-old girl who identifies as White and lives in a Local Authority home with other children who are looked after. Jaimie has been in the care of the Local Authority since she was ten years old and, in that time, she has been moved placements numerous times – 8 in the last five years alone. She knows her father and has had on and off contact with him. There have been concerns around Child sexual Exploitation and Harmful Sexual Behaviour in regards to her father, he has recently reconnected with Jaimie. She has no relationship with her mother or stepfather. She has a nan and two younger siblings who are also in the Local Authority’s care.  

Jaimie has been known to social services her whole life. Over the last seven years, she has had to move placement time and time again, often as a result of her displaying aggressive and sometimes physically violent behaviour towards other children and staff and them not being able to manage the risk presented both to herself and others. Jaimie sometimes threatens others with violence when she feels she has been disrespected and has received criminal convictions related criminal damage, violence, and affray. 

Jaimie’s experience of ‘homelife‘ is highly fractured having never been in one placement long enough to  have the opportunity to develop meaningful and trusted relationships with the people who are there to care for her. 

In the months leading up to SHiFT, Jaimie’s behaviour was becoming more concerning. She was spending most evenings and nights out on the streets, staying up all night, being at risk by hanging out with older people, drinking, and sometimes, getting into fights and arguments.  

Jaimie’s Guide describes her as being highly vulnerable – with no reliable adults in her life, Jaimie is an easy target for both sexual and criminal exploitation. She was referred to SHiFT because she – along with two other girls referred at the same time – were known to hanging around with a concerning crowd. Despite this, Jaimie was somehow falling through the gaps of support from the Local Authority and other services – the only other professional in Jaimie’s life is her Social Worker, and this relationship will be coming to an end when Jaimie turns 18 and she begins to work with a new Social Worker in the Leaving Care team.  

 

Getting to know Jaimie 

Jaimie is always well-presented, taking great pride in her appearance. She has blonde hair and likes to dress smartly. Jaimie’s Guide, Azaria, knew Jaimie from a previous placement some years before. With Jaimie’s humour, caring attitude, and insightful comments about her past experiences, Azaria was pleased to be working with her again – she knew they would find a connection that would work for Jamie. But Azaria also knew that developing a relationship with Jaimie would take time given Jaimie’s history of fractured relationships and lack of trustworthy adults/role models in her life. Jaimie is mindful of the people around her and highly attuned to disrespectful language. So, Azaria took the time to get to know Jaimie, her interests and hobbies, and the people around her. Azaria describes Jaimie as ‘a dreamer’, someone who has hopes for a more positive future and who, once you take the time to get to know her, is really sweet and caring.  

Jaimie’s experience of education has been almost entirely lacking. She says her mother never really took her to primary school and, after going into care, her secondary education was constantly interrupted by movements between different placements. Her Social Worker explains that she had been moved out of borough in the hope of moving her away from some negative influences in her life. Unfortunately, the local authority could not find a school that would accept Jaimie and she missed nearly 18-months of secondary education. Her final years at school were then interrupted by Covid. Despite all of this, Jaime still managed to achieve a handful of GCSEs.  

 

Getting alongside and creating the SHiFT difference 

Azaria worked closely with Jaimie’s Social Worker in the first few weeks of getting alongside Jaimie. Their strong relationship provided a good foundation for Azaria to be able to speak with Jaimie. They began by just going out for food, mostly MacDonald’s – a favourite of Jaimie’s, although Azaria has now encouraged her to try new foods and they have been going to Chinese restaurants more recently. Jaimie’s world is small, with few reliable people in her life she spends much of her time watching TV as a form of escape – staying up most of the night and sleeping much of the day. Azaria has demonstrated patience towards Jaimie, encouraging her to see the benefits of a more structured day and night and to begin thinking about how she can have more positive activities in her life. As part of this, Azaria has been going horse riding with Jaimie, something Jaimie has loved doing.  

However, Jaimie’s life has often been characterised by crises. This has been no different since Azaria has been working with her. Initially focusing on employment and self-esteem, Azaria’s work with Jaimie had to pivot quickly when a health scare resulted in a 2am, panicked phone call from Jaimie. Azaria was there, to answer the phone and attend the subsequent health appointments. Azaria was the person Jaimie could turn to.  

With sustained support from her Guide for the last nine months, Jaimie’s confidence in seeking her own medical support is increasing. With Azaria’s support, she has accessed mental health services and has been diagnosed with depression. She is being referred to a team for support and has been to develop better sleeping patterns.  

Azaria’s ability to be flexible and provide support to Jaimie as and when she needs it has been an essential part of their relationship building. Azaria has delivered on her promise to be present in Jaimie’s life – to be available and ready to help her in the way that Jaimie needs. With Jaimie’s long history of services involved in her life, Jaimie says that most important to her is that people listen – listen to what she wants and to her needs. Azaria has not only been able to develop a trusted relationship with Jaimie that has allowed her to listen but has Been able to provide safe challenge in a manner that Jamie and respond to and build a plan together for Jaimies’s future.  

A key part of the work with Jaimie has been to help her find ways to express her needs to others in a calm manner that communicates her feelings without becoming aggressive. Azaria has been working with her to learn different techniques of engaging with others and talking with her about the consequences different behaviours can have. Recently, Jaimie has started to use the systems within her placement to raise issues asking Azaria to support her in writing an email to make requests.  

Azaria’s work has helped Jaimie have a more positive view of herself. Azaria gently challenges Jaimie’s negative self-talk and praises her and encourages her to see the skills that she has. Beyond this though, Azaria has been able to get alongside Jaimie to build her confidence to enter new spaces and try new things. Jaimie believing that she is able to do new things, that people won’t judge her, and that she is capable of getting a job are the first steppingstones to her realising her aspirations for a life without the problems she has had so far. Things are on the up… Jaimie’s currently working on her CV.  

Rob's story

Audio file

Why SHiFT? 

Rob is a 17-year-old boy who identifies as dual heritage and lives in a Local Authority home with other children who are looked after. Rob moved into the care of the Local Authority a few months before starting to work with his SHiFT Guide, Shakira.  

Rob has been known to services since he was in his early teens when he began to get caught in a deeply destructive cycle of crime. When out on the streets, Rob has been violent towards others, involved in gang initiations and has convictions for robbery, theft, and sexual assault, and has engaged in drug dealing.  

Rob has a good relationship with his mother and two half-siblings. He doesn’t know his father who has been in prison for much of his life and his step-father had not long moved out of the family home when Rob moved into his placement. His step-father had perpetrated domestic violence in the home.  

Rob was deeply involved in what he calls ‘the roads’ lifestyle. However, the lifestyle ultimately took a toll on his mental health. After he finished school he went into a depression and was overdosing on various tranquilisers – his mum described him as being completely ‘out of it’.  

One day, Rob left the house in a haze and was badly beaten. He ended up in hospital and the team of professionals around him decided that he ought to be taken into Local Authority care instead of going home. For Rob, home had been a place of domestic violence and, although the perpetrator of this violence was no longer living there, professionals felt that he needed a break – a place to recover and recuperate.  

It was at this point that Shakira, Rob’s SHiFT Guide, began working with him. 

 

Getting to know Rob 

Polite and gentle when he talks to professionals, Rob is well-liked. When Shakira started working with Rob, SHiFT was one of six services involved – her first meeting to discuss Rob’s situation involved 15 professionals and, initially, Shakira felt uncertain of how she could support him with so many other people involved. When he was asked how he felt when he heard so many people had been discussing his case, he said, ‘It’s confusing cos like, why is no one helping me?’ 

Shakira began working with Rob alongside his Youth Offending Team worker – someone with whom he had a good relationship and was able to support Rob and Shakira in getting to know each other. From the outset, Rob felt comfortable with Shakira. He said, “From the first meeting I could tell she wasn’t like the others, the way she was, the way she presented herself, I felt like after the meeting I felt like make she is different.” 

Shakira quickly discovered Rob was bright and caring. He has a strong relationship with his mother (who he speaks with every evening now he no longer lives in the family home) and two half-siblings of whom he is very fond. Rob did well in school despite five fixed term exclusions and one permanent exclusion, and his family moving boroughs in an attempt to keep him safe and away from the criminal activity. While in a Pupil Referral Unit, Rob completed his GSCEs and performed well – including getting a 7 in English.  

 

Getting alongside and creating the SHiFT difference 

In the first few months, Rob and Shakira spent time together in his Local Authority placement where they worked together on issues related to his mental health. Rob talks about how he could “actually speak to her”. “I actually open up to her about my problems and what I am thinking”, Rob says.  

Rob said he was lost when he first started working with Shakira. He needed the support to “get me back to me”. He wanted to get away from his old lifestyle. He had a place to live, and an apprenticeship that was going well. Outside of work though, he didn’t know how to keep himself safe or how to manage his new home life. He told me, “Since I met Shakira, my life’s changed so much [...] if I have a situation and I am stressing out or I need someone to talk to, Shakira is there.” Slowly, Shakira and Rob have built a strong relationship. 

Since working his Shakira, Rob has committed to, and successfully completed, a variety of programmes around healthy relationships, substance misuse, and through virtual schools to gain an apprenticeship. And Shakira has been with him every step of the way. Shakira’s daily check ins remind him about his goals and strategies to stay drug free, and Shakira has had the skill skillset to talk about risk, staying safe, and keeping Rob honest and open about his lifestyle. And she supported him with his education and learning – supporting him through his virtual school exams, so that he could get the pass he needed to get onto his apprenticeship.  

Many children and young people in Rob’s situation, being housed in a Local Authority placement for the first time would not easily settle – other professionals said they would expect to have to move someone like Rob quite often. For Rob though, this hasn’t happened. Shakira has been there as the person he can talk to about how he is feeling, and issues that arise at his placement and ways to resolve them. She has spent time with Rob and his wider family, communicating with Rob’s mother to keep her informed of her work and organising creative activities to support the family to strengthen their relationships by spending quality family time together.  

Six months after Shakira began working with Rob, they attended court for a hearing regarding an offence Rob had committed prior to his work with SHiFT. Rob states that the judge specifically told him that he was facing time in prison unless Rob could provide a good reason to change his conclusion. Shakira – along with Rob’s Social Worker, Youth Offending Team work, and mum – spoke at the hearing in support of Rob. This was enough evidence for the judge to change his mind and Rob was not sentenced to custody. More importantly though, Rob says “…, that just showed me that I mean so much more than just the roads like.” Rob has remained entirely offence-free since.  

Rob has trusted Shakira enough to show her his Snapchat so they could reflect together on how his life had changed. They went through his photographs and updates. Rob realised that his life before his hospital admission and placement was “just weed, knives, [and] fights”. Scanning forward, since his work with Shakira, he reflected “it just got to the point where I was just me again. Going out, doing normal stuff, being happy and that.” 

Rob has stopped being involved in ‘the roads’: “The roads ain’t for me fam, it’s not for me”, he said. Rob has also significantly reduced his cannabis intake, begun to take better care of himself by developing key independent living skills and engaging with mental health services. He now also has a child and, with Shakira’s encouragement, is learning to be a dad and take responsibility for his child’s care.  

Shakira has been the consistent thread through Rob’s life over the 18 months they have been working together. With Rob’s father in prison and Rob’s criminal record, there were good reasons to believe that the cycle of crime in which he was caught would be especially difficult to break. But there’s promising evidence to date that Rob is well on the way to breaking the cycle for his child and future generations. 

Jake's Story

Audio file

Why SHiFT?

Jake is a 18-year-old boy who identifies as White British and is currently in custody. Jake is in the care of the Local Authority following his mother requesting Children’s Services accommodate him under Section 20 of Children’s Act 1989, as she felt she could no longer manage his behaviour in the family home. Jake has been known to Children’s Service’s since 2016, because of concerns over the years about him associating with older individuals, being around or carrying weapons, and participating in anti-social behaviour. Jake has been the victim of child sexual exploitation and has been physically assaulted by people he considered peers.

Jake has had few consistent relationships – with family or professionals - in his life. Many of his placements have broken down and this has contributed to Jake feeling he had to become independent, before he was really mature and ready. In trying to find spaces and places where he belongs, Jake has been susceptible to negative peer influence including through taking risks to fit in.  

Jake’s parents have been worried about Jake’s behaviour for several years, including an incident when Jake was around 12 where he tried to set a mattress on fire in the family home when he and his brother where there,  there have been several other incidents of threatened and/attempted arson, it is hypothesised that Jake is and has been struggling with his feelings and emotions and these incidents are a cry for help. Their worry particularly increased when their relationship ended in 2017, which they feel contributed to Jake’s behaviour escalating and becoming increasingly difficult to manage. At the end of his parents’ relationship, Jake had many missing episodes, was spending a lot of time with negative peers and had become involved in offending of a violent nature. Offences included Robbery, criminal damage, possession of a knife, possession of Cannabis and assault. There were 14 offences in the space of two years where Jake had to attend both Youth and Crown Court. Professionals at the time saw Jake’s behaviour as a reflection of the significant trauma of his parent’s separation and feeling vulnerable in the family home. Jake’s Guide Chris describes him as being highly vulnerable, he has been in custody four times, escalation and offending happens quickly, his offending often occurs with several offences in quick succession.

Jake’s education has been significantly disrupted: he has frequently changed schools due to behavioural issues and being moved to different placements. He received Fixed term and permanent exclusions for fighting with the use of weapons, refusing to attend lessons and general poor school attendance and persistent disruptive behaviour. Numerous involvements from Attendance Advisory Service and Children’s Social Care to support his attendance didn’t have an impact. Jake regularly refused to attend school from 13, his parents have said he would point blank refuse. When Jake became looked after by the local authority this further disrupted his engagement in education due to the instability of placements. Jake has been out of education for almost all of his secondary schooling and longest period in education recently was a post 16 course which he started in December 2019 and it finished in July 2020. His shortest stay in an education setting being 1.5 days “He said he didn’t like school and just wouldn’t attend”.

 

Getting to know Jake

Jake is a funny, engaging and likable young person. Chris describes him as very intelligent and sees him as a leader in the making – he can make decisions in group tasks, supports others, and works well as part of a team. Working with Jake is always eventful and enjoyable, and Chris looks forward to their sessions. He is very caring and thoughtful towards others. He naturally lights up a room with his humour and gets on easily with people. Without a doubt Jake will make you laugh! He has an eye for detail and doesn’t forget anything. If you tell him, you’re going to do something he won’t forget and won’t accept any excuses. Jake has really high standards and everything gets done to A*. Chris says working with him has made him a better Youth practitioner.

Jake enjoys cooking and family time, he likes spending time with his family and misses them when he is not with them. His love of cooking came about when he was in a placement at age 14 and got involved in a cooking session in the home. He made a lasagne from scratch, and it came out ‘perfect’. He was complimented by the other children and staff in the home and since then he just developed his craft and love for cooking.   

When Chris and Jake met, Jake was in custody preparing for his release on licence and had been working with professionals in the Youth Justice Team and Children’s Social Care for six years. A dominant narrative among professionals is that when Jake is bored, he gets himself into trouble. He was said to do things he knows are ‘wrong’, because ‘it lets the time pass by’. Being involved with professionals for a significant period meant that it was especially important for Chris to understand who Jake is. Making contact pre-release from a period in custody allowed for a relationship to begin to be formed and see how best Chris could support him once he is released. Chris started to understand his background and interests and found similarities between them. He also started to see the significant links between Jake’s behaviour and his family history and the ending of his parents’ relationship – under-emphasised in existing professional narratives about Jake.

 

Getting alongside and creating the SHiFT difference

Chris has taken time to get to know Jake, in the first few months really taking the time to understand who Jake is rather than the “bored, naughty boy” described. Over that period Chris and Jake had daily contact on the phone and on days he was not in an education placement they would spend time together finding out what Jakes likes, and interests are and getting to know one another while building a package of support alongside.

Going to the gym, going food shopping, going to the park, doing all this together has helped shape future goals and helped Chris understand what has most meaning for Jake. Jake’s family are incredibly important to him, and he misses the structure and set up, he can find it difficult “alone” Chris understand that, and all the aspects of Jake’s has enabled him to tailor support to meet his goals of independence, success and supporting his desire to continue to be close to his family and address previous problems.

By doing and going to things together Chris has been able to unlock aspects of life and possibility that Jake previously dismissed or felt where not for him and would not help him manage is emotions or behaviour.

Together they have fun, and Chris encourages Jake to think about what happiness has looked like and what it might look like through revisiting key moments and places of significance including just going and playing in the park! They have set goals around food and fitness, and he found a new love for exercise. Jake aspires to incorporate this into his catering career and offer an all-round package of exercise and healthy eating to future clientele.

Jake is known for having ‘negative peers’ and described as associating with risk taking young people. Professionals have often told Jake not to associate with one young person in particular for his own benefit. Chris knew this approach would not work with Jake as he was “drawn to” and sees the young person as a friend. Chris felt to support Jake and affect change that a piece of collaborative work with Jake and the young person would be beneficial. Chris focused activities with them together, through this he was able to see the friendship dynamic between them and support the young person in question which in turn had a positive impact on Jake. This allowed Chris to work with those who have most meaning for Jake and influence in his life.

Jake often tells others that ‘SHiFT just get it done’. Jake has often been frustrated with services not talking to each other and by having Chris as his SHiFT Guide he has been able to connect across all services, support and advocate for Jake.

Chris has been able to advocate for Jake in numerous different settings, these have involved education, children’s social care, Youth justice, Court and placement. Through the relationship that has been created between Chris and Jake, Chris has been able to bring Jake’s voice into the room when he has not been present and when decisions are being made for and about him.

Jake has felt at times that there is a professional narrative and expectation that he will not succeed and that certain decisions professionals will make are ‘destined’ and led to him being recalled to custody following breach of curfew and a missing period, Jake returned after communicating with Chris, clarifying why he had gone missing and where he was enabling  Chris to check on his welfare, assess risk and be an intermediary between Jake and the Youth Justice Team to eventually get him to go back home. At the time Jake was engaging well in education and with Chris as his SHiFT Guide, the action to breach Jake was challenged and contested, but Chris and Jake have adapted and are creating success through the gate!

He is due to be released from Cookham in July 2022. Chris has supported Jake in custody enabling ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) in preparation for his release the following have been planned and secured while on ROTL.

Jake is completing a weeklong catering course with the Princes Trust

An appointment has been arranged with First base housing as part of his ROTL, the process to get somewhere stable and suitable starts now!  

With the support of Chris and colleagues from the secure estate, Jake has opened a bank account on ROTL. This will support us in being able to apply for his benefits pre release

Jake had a job offer before he went into custody, Chris and Jake are working to find another offer and getting Jake ready for work.

Jake and Chris aren’t finished yet but they’re getting things done and the continuity between community and custody means a pivot not a fall through the gap, they talk every day on the phone.

Jake has used this time within custody to reflect and set bigger smart goals for himself both short and long term. With the support of Chris, they will execute the plan to support Jake to achieve his goals. Having a consistent support in the form of a SHiFT Guide has benefitted Jake. For the first time he has an adult to be the main point of contact to access advice, support, and guidance across all areas of his life. This allows Jake to maximise his potential, through his guide doing what-ever it takes. Jake has completed numerous courses while in custody, most recently Food and Allergy certificate. Jake has said that has been influenced by Chris to make the best out of a difficult situation.

Once released from custody the search for employment starts and Chris and Jake plan on doing day trips together to Southend and Thorpe Park these places hold special significance for Jake and childhood memories.

Jake and Chris will continue to go to the gym together, as well as go to the Theatre to watch Only Fools and Horses. A show Jake said he used to watch with his family on UK Gold, bringing him laughter and creating new memories as well as supporting him to fill his time with purposeful activity or even just be ok with a little boring ‘down time’

 

Why SHiFT?

Jake is a 18-year-old boy who identifies as White British and is currently in custody. Jake is in the care of the Local Authority following his mother requesting Children’s Services accommodate him under Section 20 of Children’s Act 1989, as she felt she could no longer manage his behaviour in the family home. Jake has been known to Children’s Service’s since 2016, because of concerns over the years about him associating with older individuals, being around or carrying weapons, and participating in anti-social behaviour. Jake has been the victim of child sexual exploitation and has been physically assaulted by people he considered peers.

Jake has had few consistent relationships – with family or professionals - in his life. Many of his placements have broken down and this has contributed to Jake feeling he had to become independent, before he was really mature and ready. In trying to find spaces and places where he belongs, Jake has been susceptible to negative peer influence including through taking risks to fit in.  

Jake’s parents have been worried about Jake’s behaviour for several years, including an incident when Jake was around 12 where he tried to set a mattress on fire in the family home when he and his brother where there,  there have been several other incidents of threatened and/attempted arson, it is hypothesised that Jake is and has been struggling with his feelings and emotions and these incidents are a cry for help. Their worry particularly increased when their relationship ended in 2017, which they feel contributed to Jake’s behaviour escalating and becoming increasingly difficult to manage. At the end of his parents’ relationship, Jake had many missing episodes, was spending a lot of time with negative peers and had become involved in offending of a violent nature. Offences included Robbery, criminal damage, possession of a knife, possession of Cannabis and assault. There were 14 offences in the space of two years where Jake had to attend both Youth and Crown Court. Professionals at the time saw Jake’s behaviour as a reflection of the significant trauma of his parent’s separation and feeling vulnerable in the family home. Jake’s Guide Chris describes him as being highly vulnerable, he has been in custody four times, escalation and offending happens quickly, his offending often occurs with several offences in quick succession.

Jake’s education has been significantly disrupted: he has frequently changed schools due to behavioural issues and being moved to different placements. He received Fixed term and permanent exclusions for fighting with the use of weapons, refusing to attend lessons and general poor school attendance and persistent disruptive behaviour. Numerous involvements from Attendance Advisory Service and Children’s Social Care to support his attendance didn’t have an impact. Jake regularly refused to attend school from 13, his parents have said he would point blank refuse. When Jake became looked after by the local authority this further disrupted his engagement in education due to the instability of placements. Jake has been out of education for almost all of his secondary schooling and longest period in education recently was a post 16 course which he started in December 2019 and it finished in July 2020. His shortest stay in an education setting being 1.5 days “He said he didn’t like school and just wouldn’t attend”.

Getting to know Jake

Jake is a funny, engaging and likable young person. Chris describes him as very intelligent and sees him as a leader in the making – he can make decisions in group tasks, supports others, and works well as part of a team. Working with Jake is always eventful and enjoyable, and Chris looks forward to their sessions. He is very caring and thoughtful towards others. He naturally lights up a room with his humour and gets on easily with people. Without a doubt Jake will make you laugh! He has an eye for detail and doesn’t forget anything. If you tell him, you’re going to do something he won’t forget and won’t accept any excuses. Jake has really high standards and everything gets done to A*. Chris says working with him has made him a better Youth practitioner.

Jake enjoys cooking and family time, he likes spending time with his family and misses them when he is not with them. His love of cooking came about when he was in a placement at age 14 and got involved in a cooking session in the home. He made a lasagne from scratch, and it came out ‘perfect’. He was complimented by the other children and staff in the home and since then he just developed his craft and love for cooking.   

When Chris and Jake met, Jake was in custody preparing for his release on licence and had been working with professionals in the Youth Justice Team and Children’s Social Care for six years. A dominant narrative among professionals is that when Jake is bored, he gets himself into trouble. He was said to do things he knows are ‘wrong’, because ‘it lets the time pass by’. Being involved with professionals for a significant period meant that it was especially important for Chris to understand who Jake is. Making contact pre-release from a period in custody allowed for a relationship to begin to be formed and see how best Chris could support him once he is released. Chris started to understand his background and interests and found similarities between them. He also started to see the significant links between Jake’s behaviour and his family history and the ending of his parents’ relationship – under-emphasised in existing professional narratives about Jake.

Getting alongside and creating the SHiFT difference

Chris has taken time to get to know Jake, in the first few months really taking the time to understand who Jake is rather than the “bored, naughty boy” described. Over that period Chris and Jake had daily contact on the phone and on days he was not in an education placement they would spend time together finding out what Jakes likes, and interests are and getting to know one another while building a package of support alongside.

Going to the gym, going food shopping, going to the park, doing all this together has helped shape future goals and helped Chris understand what has most meaning for Jake. Jake’s family are incredibly important to him, and he misses the structure and set up, he can find it difficult “alone” Chris understand that, and all the aspects of Jake’s has enabled him to tailor support to meet his goals of independence, success and supporting his desire to continue to be close to his family and address previous problems.

By doing and going to things together Chris has been able to unlock aspects of life and possibility that Jake previously dismissed or felt where not for him and would not help him manage is emotions or behaviour.

Together they have fun, and Chris encourages Jake to think about what happiness has looked like and what it might look like through revisiting key moments and places of significance including just going and playing in the park! They have set goals around food and fitness, and he found a new love for exercise. Jake aspires to incorporate this into his catering career and offer an all-round package of exercise and healthy eating to future clientele.

Jake is known for having ‘negative peers’ and described as associating with risk taking young people. Professionals have often told Jake not to associate with one young person in particular for his own benefit. Chris knew this approach would not work with Jake as he was “drawn to” and sees the young person as a friend. Chris felt to support Jake and affect change that a piece of collaborative work with Jake and the young person would be beneficial. Chris focused activities with them together, through this he was able to see the friendship dynamic between them and support the young person in question which in turn had a positive impact on Jake. This allowed Chris to work with those who have most meaning for Jake and influence in his life.

Jake often tells others that ‘SHiFT just get it done’. Jake has often been frustrated with services not talking to each other and by having Chris as his SHiFT Guide he has been able to connect across all services, support and advocate for Jake.

Chris has been able to advocate for Jake in numerous different settings, these have involved education, children’s social care, Youth justice, Court and placement. Through the relationship that has been created between Chris and Jake, Chris has been able to bring Jake’s voice into the room when he has not been present and when decisions are being made for and about him.

Jake has felt at times that there is a professional narrative and expectation that he will not succeed and that certain decisions professionals will make are ‘destined’ and led to him being recalled to custody following breach of curfew and a missing period, Jake returned after communicating with Chris, clarifying why he had gone missing and where he was enabling  Chris to check on his welfare, assess risk and be an intermediary between Jake and the Youth Justice Team to eventually get him to go back home. At the time Jake was engaging well in education and with Chris as his SHiFT Guide, the action to breach Jake was challenged and contested, but Chris and Jake have adapted and are creating success through the gate!

He is due to be released from Cookham in July 2022. Chris has supported Jake in custody enabling ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) in preparation for his release the following have been planned and secured while on ROTL.

Jake is completing a weeklong catering course with the Princes Trust

An appointment has been arranged with First base housing as part of his ROTL, the process to get somewhere stable and suitable starts now!  

With the support of Chris and colleagues from the secure estate, Jake has opened a bank account on ROTL. This will support us in being able to apply for his benefits pre release

Jake had a job offer before he went into custody, Chris and Jake are working to find another offer and getting Jake ready for work.

Jake and Chris aren’t finished yet but they’re getting things done and the continuity between community and custody means a pivot not a fall through the gap, they talk every day on the phone.

Jake has used this time within custody to reflect and set bigger smart goals for himself both short and long term. With the support of Chris, they will execute the plan to support Jake to achieve his goals. Having a consistent support in the form of a SHiFT Guide has benefitted Jake. For the first time he has an adult to be the main point of contact to access advice, support, and guidance across all areas of his life. This allows Jake to maximise his potential, through his guide doing what-ever it takes. Jake has completed numerous courses while in custody, most recently Food and Allergy certificate. Jake has said that has been influenced by Chris to make the best out of a difficult situation.

Once released from custody the search for employment starts and Chris and Jake plan on doing day trips together to Southend and Thorpe Park these places hold special significance for Jake and childhood memories.

Jake and Chris will continue to go to the gym together, as well as go to the Theatre to watch Only Fools and Horses. A show Jake said he used to watch with his family on UK Gold, bringing him laughter and creating new memories as well as supporting him to fill his time with purposeful activity or even just be ok with a little boring ‘down time’