Transitions element

A quote from Head of Careers, College .......... “I thought today was really useful for these three pupils, seeing options that are available; they have all benefited a lot from today. This event was a great idea. This needs to be a regular occurrence, especially for these boys. There needs to be more schools involved; some schools didn’t know this event was on. There are plenty of job opportunities on show today to give the young people an insight and understanding of what is involved in each career and help them to decide which GCSEs/A Levels they need to choose for that career pathway. It was a brilliant day”

A boy aged 16 had been bullied at school, was having a very difficult time in the educational system due to being mainstreamed, he had become isolated, was very depressed due to the bullying which led to suicidal thoughts. He had been attending CAHMS. I had approached the school to promote DRP and the teacher passed the information on to him. His mother brought her son to our Taste Your Future event but he really did not want to be there, his mother persisted and explained it was just to see what was available for him. He came in with the attitude that there was nothing there for him but by the end of the day he had been engrossed in a conversation with a plumber. He went home, his mental health and well-being had dramatically improved and he told his mum he had decided to change his life.   He finished school recently and has enquired at a local college for plumbing courses; he was advised that he required Maths, English and IT. He has subsequently enroled on fast-track Essential Skills Maths, English and IT, each of which will take one week to complete and he will then enrol on a plumbing course.   One event has totally transformed this young person’s life and has enhanced family life at home, which to me proves the value of having a bespoke project with events organised by peers and positive role models that share a language, culture and have understanding of the barriers these young people face in their everyday life.

Mentoring element

A 17-year-old mentee was referred to us from Belfast CAHMS as they were getting concerned with the increase in her aggression, her mental health and how she was extremely isolated and not wanting to leave the house. She started her mentoring sessions in May 2014 and has been meeting her mentor once (sometimes twice) a week – through mentoring, she was able to share her frustrations about not being able to communicate with her family (they were going through a traumatic time). She gradually gained confidence and started to go out to a youth deaf club every week and starting to make new friends. She even took the plunge to fly over to England (on her own) to attend NDCS’ residential week last August and also attended a youth exchange trip to Hungary last Easter. She will be finishing school this year and is looking into going to a college course in September. Her family has commented that she is rarely in the house now!

Mentoring / Cultural element

The mother of a 13-year-old daughter attended the launch of our DRP Project, her daughter should have been with her however, she had had a massive falling out with her mum, had been throwing shoes at her and generally being aggressive and therefore told her mum she wanted nothing to do with it. Her mum was chatting to me at the launch and was in tears, she was at her wits end. I made an appointment to visit her with the project mentor which was quite a fraught visit. The young girl felt that her brother did not love her (he has Asperger’s syndrome which meant he could not make eye contact with her), she felt her family did not love her as they did not communicate with her. I spoke to the mother and the project mentor spoke to the young girl separately, the young girl had so much aggression and frustration built up that her only way of communicating was usually by way of argument. She attended a deaf school and had deaf friends in school but when she got home she never left the house and did not meet any friends.

She was matched with a mentor but the job initially entailed explaining about family life, how mum and dad work, they have responsibilities, explaining about her brother’s condition and how he could not make eye contact which is a vital part of communicating with a deaf person (no-one had explained Asperger’s to her). The mentor then had a session with her parents and the young girl to have the three explain their frustrations and how this could be improved. The mentor met once a week but then the young girl was going through a bad experience of bullying in school and had taken a knife to her mother. The situation was extremely worrying, she was very vulnerable as were the family, all relevant authorities were advised and the mentor then agreed to meet her twice a week. There was alot of talking about the situation, her frustrations etc and how this could be improved. The mentor also involved fun activities and introduced the family to a cinema with subtitled movies meaning they could enjoy fun family activities together to help the bonding process. She had issues with showing her deafness in public to those who were not deaf, the mentor brought her to McDonalds and showed her how to order by pointing etc to show that she would not be judged on being deaf. This happened a few times and she eventually ordered herself and became more confident in showing her deafness outside of school and the home. The mentoring led to this young girl being more independent in travelling further from her local area and showing more of an interest in everything outside of school and the home, she recently took her mentor around her local home area and explained some of the history of the area etc. The mentor got her involved in a Deaf Drama group that were putting on a performance at a large gathering for the World Mental Health and Deafness Congress which had a audience of approx 200 people from throughout the world. From being a nervous first timer she was literally the star of the show and the feedback she got was amazing which boosted her confidence enormously. It has been a slow process with this mentee but through regular mentoring her aggression has decreased, she has realised the importance of communicating clearly in the family home (as have they), she received some ‘training’ on how non-deaf people communicate and their culture which has eased some of the pressures on family life. The family have signed up for Family signing in the home and feel that they are a unit now rather than being segregated and life at home is more relaxed and fun now. There are still ongoing issues as we know there is no quick fix solution to a person’s mental health and well being and for those who have had barriers and frustrations for the majority of their life, but with the regular support from her mentor, her parents have stated that they never felt they would have reached this stage without the support from DRP.