David and Nick

David, 10 years old, lived with his mum, grandma and 2 younger sisters in a council estate where a known gang is operating and school as well as mum expressed concerns about the possibility for David to get drawn into it. Mum didn’t allow him to play outside the house. He used to have a very close relationship with his dad who took him to football however this stopped when dad went to prison; it really affected David and his behaviour deteriorated a lot.

When David was referred to Chance UK he spent most of the time outside the classroom with a learning mentor on a 1:1 basis as he could not cope in a class setting, constantly disrupting the teaching and not being able to concentrate. He was extremely challenging, always fighting with his peers at playtime and displaying verbal and physical aggression towards adults. He was also defiant and refused to follow any instructions. David was at risk of being permanently excluded even though he was very intelligent and had a lot of potential.

David had one big passion and he was very talented at it; football. At school he was the best footballer, however he wasn’t allowed to play in the school team due to his fighting.

We matched him with Nick who shared his passion for football and played in a team himself. In mentoring sessions he was very quiet and closed off initially. He would only give single word answers and when asked how things are at school, he would say “fine”, he didn’t open up. He was also very sensitive towards criticism and if pulled up about small things such as throwing rubbish into bushes, he overreacted, was very upset and completely shut down. He also made up stories about his Dad and was overly competitive.

So at the start Nick and David played a lot of football in the park on their sessions, visited different football stadiums as well as watched a football match. Slowly David started to open up and Nick showed him it was ok to talk about your feelings, we all have them. They worked on increasing his confidence by learning about positive competitiveness and accepting that it is ok not to be good at everything. Nick used David’s talent in sport generally and exposed him to many new sports such as fencing, badminton, rock climbing and swimming which were more challenging for him but by persevering and trying hard he still did well and experienced success. They visited museums, went on a boat trip, visited the zoo and explored different London sights as well as building regular library sessions into their mentoring, where he learned to focus for longer periods of time and see himself more as a learner.

David became much more confident speaking to other people and expressing himself, he matured a lot and was more independent for example taking the lead on public transport.

School reported that he doesn’t get into fights anymore at playtime, he was allowed to join the school football team again and he is back in class full-time. He completely changed and wants to achieve things now at school; he is really looking forward to starting secondary school. Mum is very proud of him and can see all the strengths in him. Dad had been released from prison and attended the Chance UK Graduation ceremony with the the whole family. It was a very proud moment for them all.