Why support our work? We have gathered some stories from our young people to help describe the ways in which HOT can help support young people through the hardest of times.
“I began my support after my guidance teacher at High School in S3/4 suggested I do so. I struggled to make friends and I had an abusive relationship with my mum who was a single parent to seven children.
I then left home at 16 and if it were not for the support I received from the HOT team I would not have been able to cope both financially and emotionally with the changes that occurred.
The two support workers I worked with helped me to budget and become financially responsible and also helped me deal with the complete breakdown of my relationship with my mum.
I recall that one night I felt very low and was contemplating suicide, I called a support worker and she talked me out of it and went above and beyond the next few weeks so I knew that I was better alive. I also managed to stay in education until 6th year and gain Highers; I don’t think I would have managed this without the support I received.
I received both emotional and general living support. I worked through issues in my past to highlight the turning point of my downward spiral then I built on the aspects of my life that were good. I also received support through a clothing fund and food vouchers when I was living in homeless hostels and could not afford these things for myself.
The support was structured in a way that it was tailored to me and my problems specifically. This is what made me open up and be honest to the two support workers I worked with.
I have had many counsellors and support workers through the years but the H.O.T made me feel as though they really cared. They clearly enjoyed what they do and when I made progress I could see that it affected them as well as me in a positive way.
I enjoyed going to my meetings and as time went on I could see that I was making progress. I am now a completely different person than I was. I was heading towards a dangerous road and hanging around with the wrong people but one support worker, in particular, helped me realise I could achieve anything I set my mind to.
She told me that I could go to university and I could live a different life to the one that I was used to. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I would be attending university to study Pre-Medicine this year. I used to be ashamed and think I wasn’t ‘good’ enough to go to university, however, she believed in me and with some hard work, I got there in the end.
I am also much better at recognising and dealing with emotions thanks to some exercises I learned. I make friends easily and I am a much more confident version of myself than when I first started support years ago.
Due to the support I can recognise and deal with emotions in a much healthier way by using several coping techniques I learned. I also learned how to open up and trust people and that it is okay to be down sometimes.
I learned to recognise when I am engaging in unhealthy relationships and how to talk about how I feel to people close to me. I am much more confident and if I were ever to come across someone who struggled the way I did or was in the same situation I would 100% recommend H.O.T”.
Sally’s Mum has on-going, major health issues. She struggles with domestic abuse and misuses legal and illegal substances. In her Mum’s home, Sally had to cook meals, clean, care for her Mum, do washing and keep the house running.
She had to do this from a young age and this forced Sally to stay up very late to get her homework done and feel prepared for school. In her S1 year, Sally’s school attendance began to slip dramatically under the pressure of doing all her homework and taking care of her mother.
Sally has had high levels of responsibility in the home, has witnessed domestic abuse between her Mum and various partners, has previously been homeless with her Mum, and has moved house many times in her life.
Due to these things, as well as being bullied in school for her appearance, Sally often felt high levels of stress and anxiety.
Sally was referred to the HOT team for support by her Looked After and Accommodated Health Nurse. Nine months before her HOT referral Sally had been brought into a kinship care arrangement and was feeling more secure. However, she continued to struggle with high levels of anxiety and anger from her previous and current experiences.
Sally had previously engaged in HOT 1:1 Support a year ago and knew that she would benefit from another referral. Sally was looking for a space to talk through the feelings brought up before and after moving into kinship care.
She knew that HOT could help. At the very start of her support, Sally was prepared with her goals and to use the space to find ways to cope with her situation. Sally’s goal for her support was “to be able to cope with big feelings (anger & anxiety) better than I do.”
In her first session, Sally started a family tree that helped her think about relationships as well as her family situation. In that session, and the next one, she continued to think through who she had in her life, who she could count on, and what kind of relationships surrounded her now that she had moved out of her Mum’s house.
Sally found this exercise helped her see how much support she had around her. Sally shared that she had found it helpful to make her family tree and already felt better knowing she was not as alone as she’d felt before starting support. Throughout the rest of her sessions, Sally focused on using the time to share how she felt about life in general and looked at ways to cope with her anger and anxiety.
Sally found practical tools helpful; she worked on breathing techniques, meditation, and building up her emotional self-awareness in order to catch and redirect her anger and anxiety early on.
Throughout her support, Sally found great success in trying out new strategies and then practising them in the community; home, and at school. As she began to relax more in herself, Sally was able to think of and implement her own strategies in her daily life (exercise, more time with friends, better sleep routines, etc) and found that she was much more able to cope effectively when things came into her life that upset her.
Before support, Sally found it nearly impossible to ride a bus without panicking. After working on this in her support sessions Sally described feeling quite proud of herself and was looking forward to being able to enjoy her summer holidays with her friends now that she could ride the bus.
This was an amazing journey to see. Sally is a strong young woman who has made it through a very difficult childhood. She has so much potential. During her support, while using her meditation & breathing exercises, Sally regularly said that she was able to get to sleep quicker and sleep through most nights.
She noticed that she didn’t worry about her carer’s health as much and found that she was much more relaxed generally.
At the end of her support, Sally was thrilled to have met her goal and said: “I now feel like an extinct time bomb”.
In her feedback letter to her referrer, Sally said:
Because of her motivation for change, her willingness to try new strategies, and her awareness of which strategies worked best for her, we believe that Sally will keep going with her positive steps and she will thrive.
We know that if she is struggling again, she will feel able to get support to help her build up her coping strategies and improve her emotional health.
The poem below was written by a young woman who experienced trauma. She hopes that “many more people will work through creative ways to release their pain and discomforts”.
These fluttering beings are rare to find
Sleeping through the day’s light to jump out of the nest at sunset
they dance and sing along lonesome cherry blossom boulevards,
skip along the moonlit sands
these are the nights they cherish in their minds.
To survive the darkness they feed on colours: blues, greens, purples and yellows.
Illuminated are their paths, for their glossy bright eyes shine like stars
For a moment, or two, they share a flight of happiness with you
and as suddenly as they appeared they disappear: leaving you with just one shoe
only later to tell you their stories in scribbles on shiny postcards
with a P.P.S. “To make it clear, I took your shoe as a souvenir.”
Not a penny pincher, grabber, scavenger or churl
It’s in their nature to hoard things like squirrels do:
stored in safe places which are never again to be found.
What matters to them, is an invisible cloud
That follows them and protects them from losing their mind.
Most incredible, virtuous and innocent is their kind
making them free of fear, yet blind.
After a long nights wonder they take their time to ponder
while gazing at the sunrise they close their eyes and hide.
Ripped to pieces, uncovered and exposed
Unlucky are some, for the nights blanket doesn’t cover all those who travel alone.
It’s cruel to be tricked and in an instant, it clicks,
but kicking and chirring doesn’t help. As mother once said:
“Truth has to be witnessed before it can be recorded.”
The shine is mudded to a faint glow,
the misty gardens surrounded by flashing red traffic lights.
Shiver, quiver and shake it off, for most it is time to awake
It’s getting late, what a shock today.
“Today I’ll miss the sunrise but there is no reason to be terrified.”
Maybe this is a chance to see a nautical day,
wipe off the glitter and lonesome glamour
an opportunity to see the anthesis of a flower,
sunbathe off the glimmer of the flowing river
After such an encounter, allow the fear quiver.
Oh, how long it has been that a rainbow could be seen
With comfort, the dirt, drop by drop, is washed away
so bright, light and everything in sight, the wounded can see the bruises heal
The fear began to peal, leaving all but a faint dismay
which serves as a form of solace, the cognition of a new sort of pain
this too can be seen as a gain.
another tone of colour was brought to their plate
a shade left by the scare enabled the smell of concern and suspicion
as time flies by, the joy of being alive again glows brightly in those twinkly eyes
and soon this story too, you will find outside your door,
hidden in the form of scribbles, in a long forgotten shoe.