Maria is our Bexley Caseworker. Most of her clients come from Serious Violence Prevention Panel. She works with a wide range of clients aged anywhere between 11 and 35
She explains the people she helps and the issues they face.
“The thing I find most challenging is trying to change a young person’s mind-set. Even though the work is meant to be prevention some clients don’t get referred to us until their properly entrenched in gang culture, making money, going missing a lot, smoking cannabis and harder drugs. It is also challenging when clients parents are not on board. Then something serious happens i.e. serious harm, them going to prison or on remand and they start to rethink life.”
Many of the people Maria helps are not originally from Bexley but often from areas more traditionally associated with gangs.
“Because Bexley is seen as a ‘leafy’ area people see it as quiet and are sending people in gangs over for foster placements and rehousing. If information is not shared risk assessing proves difficult,” she explains.
However, like all her colleagues on SOS, seeing some of the most challenging young people turn a corner gives her a lot of satisfaction.
“The thing I find most rewarding is making the smallest change to someone’s life, watching them grow and progress. Working with the girls is also exciting as we are getting more female referrals.
“I do love the project, everyone works together, community safety, Peabody Housing, police and I have built good relationships with YOT, Social Care and Probation. I have to thank my funders from Bexley Community Safety and Peabody Housing in Thamesmead as without them I wouldn’t be here”