Problems at home can drive children and young people towards criminal exploitation. We helped Raymond and his family to address problems and look to the future.

Raymond (name changed to protect his identity) was referred to St Giles after an eight day missing episode when he had been exploited by a county line drug gang.  During this time he was stabbed and witnessed situations that no 15 year old should be exposed to – rape and violence.

When his caseworker first met Raymond, he had low self-esteem, lacked confidence in his abilities and had no hopes for his future. They worked together to identify some tangible goals which included obtaining his GCSEs, getting into college and finding employment.

There were also issues around alcohol misuse in the family and abusive behaviour towards Raymond which had helped drive him towards county lines in the first place.

Once the trust built, the caseworker shared his own direct experiences of county line involvement with Raymond and they both reflected on what had happened to them.  As a result, Raymond came to his own conclusion that nothing positive came out of county lines.  He may have made some cash but had been genuinely horrified by what he had witnessed in trap houses, been stabbed himself and had hideous memories and trauma which would take a lot of time to overcome.

Raymond tries to blot out his trauma and sadness by smoking cannabis. Although he has not stopped completely, his caseworker has helped him reduce his usage. He has also encouraged him to take up boxing which has proved to be a gamechanger, with his caseworker commenting that during a session it was the first time he had ever seen Raymond laugh. When he is feeling angry or anxious Raymond now retreats to a makeshift gym his caseworker has set up for him at his Dad’s.

It was vital to get Raymond re-engaged with education so his caseworker forged close links with Raymond’s teachers to find out what his strong points are. By working together with the school, Raymond’s attendance has increased, his behaviour has improved and he is on track to gaining GCSEs.

Raymond also needed to have a career goal to work towards. He was interested in plumbing and carpentry so he attended a college open evening with his caseworker who helped him apply for the relevant courses. He was accepted and is ecstatic at the way his life is now moving forward.

However, there were still issues around alcohol misuse in his family and Raymond’s caseworker has offered support to his Dad to help him overcome his drinking. He is now being supported by another St Giles service which helps adults experiencing multiple and complex needs.

Raymond has changed dramatically from being a shy, unconfident 15 year old who had no hopes for his future.  He now has realistic goals and a plan on how to achieve them. Boxing sessions have transformed his physical health which has had a knock on effect on his emotional wellbeing. There have been no more missing episodes and he ls looking forward to starting college.

The whole family have told us they are extremely grateful for the support they have had from their St Giles caseworker.  Relations have improved and Raymond regularly spends weekends with his Mum and step brothers. He is enjoying family life and has said he would not be where he is today without the support he has had.

 

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