Find Your Brave
Charity, Place2Be is the UK’s leading provider of schools based on mental health support. They first launched Children’s Mental Health Week back in 2015 to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
Did you know approximately 3 children in every primary school class has a mental health problem?
Children’s Mental Health Week for 2020 starts on the 3rd of February and ends on the 9th of February, that’s 7 whole days talking about your children/young persons mental health, and the topic this year is ‘Find your brave‘.
Got What It Takes To Foster?
“Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes and is different for everyone. Bravery can be about sharing worries and asking for help , trying something new or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Finding your Brave can build your confidence and self-esteem and make you feel great about yourself.” Place2Be. Learn more at childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk
How we ‘Found our Brave’
In aid of raising awareness for Children’s Mental Health Week, we reached out to our own carers and looked after children and asked them if they had any stories they wanted to share about ‘Finding your brave‘. Below are our top 4 stories.
Water used to scare T…
‘T’ came to us at the age of 7 just before his 8th birthday, a little lad with thick dark hair and of slight build with some very complex needs.
T is now nearly 16 and in the 8 years we have known him he has come on in leaps and bounds. He just loves to feel part of the family and as time went on his attention seeking got a little better.
One of his main fears was water, this meant it was hard to get him showered, so a bath was much more appropriate even though on one occasion he caught his foot on the plug and pulled it out resulting in screaming as he thought he would be sucked down the plug hole. I spent ages with him explaining about the plumbing system!! So, as you can imagine swimming pools and T didn’t mix well.
As a mum of two I made sure they had swimming lessons when they were younger and I knew I owed this to T as well. We had holidays abroad and would encourage him to sit on the sand and enjoy the water on his toes and gradually coming in with us. This was ok but I knew he needed professional help and therefore booked him into the lady who taught my own children to swim. This was quite a challenge for myself and the teacher as T took a long time even to get in the pool some days.
I recall one time in the car he told me I was the worst carer in the world for making him go! My answer was “when you’re a teenager and a man, you will thank me for not having to wear your lightening McQueen water wings and that I will never give up on you.”
As time went on the fear declined and gradually the battle turned to enjoyment. He learnt to swim resulting in certificates for swimming the length of the pool. Thanks to a firm but fair teacher who is still teaching in her 80s.
It took time, patience, dedication, lots of praise and encouragement on both parts and I would often bring members of the family along for their support.
I stopped the swimming lessons when I knew that he had come the furthest he could. He didn’t relish the next stage of swimming with his face under water and fancy strokes and although the teacher was disappointed, I was just happy that he could swim like any other child. My main concern was that if he ever fell in the water he could at least have the chance to save himself from drowning.
Now when we go on holiday T can swim, jump off boats, snorkel and really enjoys the water which is amazing to see.
Carers Trudy & Dwain
D didn’t adapt to well to change…
‘D’ will be 17 in April 2020 but displays much younger traits. D is a very complex young person with a wide range of needs. This is due to early childhood neglect and a disabled mother and younger brother who both have the same syndrome as each other. D doesn’t have this but does however show traits of it.
D doesn’t adapt well to change, he is very repetitive and doesn’t get things the 1st time. He is frightened of the dark, has been diagnosed with PTSD and has attachment disorder.
We have looked after D for 4 years now and he will remain here until he’s 18 years old. D would like to remain with us until he’s 18+ as he said he’s not ready to move on just yet.
After our “honeymoon period” with D, things became very hard going. He had private tutors while he waited for a school placement. He got one place in mainstream but it didn’t go well, we had constant kick offs. Eventually he calmed down and we decided to go on holiday. Our 1st family holiday abroad was a nightmare. It was a bad time for us all. On reflection and D being honest and talking through things, it was decided holidays would be at home.
We started off with day trips stretching it out to weekends leading on to a week away. With lots off praise and star charts and D’s trust of Zak (my husband) which built over the years, Zak was able to have more of an input and so we decided as a family to go on holiday to Majorca.
We spent more on our accommodation than usual as we knew D didn’t like crowds, so we booked a room with our own swim-up pool. We also registered him into the football academy and Go Ape. Before we set off on holiday, we agreed in advance with D, one activity he would like to do each day of the holiday as well as what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. D knew what the consequences would be if the agreement was broken. We had a much better time than we initially thought based on previous experiences, plus we paid for our daughter to come which gave us a day or two free to enjoy and made it less stressful.
Since returning home we have talked and praised him a lot and D feels like he would do another holiday abroad with us next year…
Carers Laura & Zak
In November 2014, John was sadly diagnosed with Parameningeal Rhabdomyosarcoma, a tumour that had grown behind his left eye which was also in other areas of his face.
This meant he had to face an intense 9 rounds of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiotherapy. Treatment had barely started when John came into our care as a foster child in March 2015 at the age of only 4 years old. After a change in circumstances, this meant John was to be adopted. We had supported J through such a difficult time and we had fallen in love with him. So without question or doubt, we adopted him.
No matter what struggles John faced, throughout his treatment, he was always happy and full of energy! Thankfully, after an emotional time in John’s life, his last round of chemotherapy was in June 2015.
Now 5 years on, he is as much at risk as the next person. John will still have to deal with side effects as he grows older. He will now take a growth hormone replacement everyday and damages from radiotherapy means the left side of his face will not grow the same as the right side. This is sad for John and he will possibly have more battles to face later in life, but he is alive, well and happy!
In 2016, we raised over £2,500 for The Great North Children’s Hospital to thank them for the work and the support they gave and will continue giving to hundreds of families that sadly have to go through this process.
We are organising another charity event to be held in May to raise even more funds.
Carers Julie & Barry
R had a fear of flying…
‘R’ has never flown before and just the thought of flying would cause him to suffer high levels of anxiety.
His carers and social workers all worked hard in encouraging R to go on holiday to Greece with the whole of the fostering family.
As part of the preparation for this R was taken on a short flight to Edinburgh by his Foster Carer Jude. R managed this trip there and back well.
He then agreed to go on holiday to Greece in October 2019. R showed maturity and was calm throughout his flights.
R is extremely proud of his achievement!!
Gazala – R’s Supervising Social Worker