At the time of referral, Jess was living with her mum and two older brothers in a small one-bedroom flat waiting to be rehoused. She shared a bed with mum in the living room, which made maintaining a bedtime routine difficult. Jess’ teenage brothers sometimes displayed aggressive behaviour at home and Jess had begun to copy them. Mum was often in poor health and Jess acted as her carer during these times, helping with shopping and other household chores. Because of her home situation, she found it difficult to accept boundaries and tried to act older than she was.
Jess struggled to form positive and healthy relationships. With peers at school, she would be overbearing when she made friends, not wanting to share them and exhausting them quickly. Outside of school, she was overly-friendly with strangers which made her very vulnerable. Though she came across as confident, she had very low self-esteem and didn’t want to be seen struggling.
Jess was matched with Elly, a strong female role model with similar interests to her. Elly had a fun and relaxed personality, but she also put clear boundaries in place and wasn’t fazed by tantrums. Instead of reacting to Jess’ outbursts, Elly gave her the space to calm down and encouraged her to explore other ways of expressing herself. With Elly’s help, Jess began to recognise when she was going to get angry so that she could ask for time out to calm down.
The mentoring sessions provided valuable problem-free time away from the challenges Jess faced at home and at school. Jess was able to be a child again, enjoying age-appropriate activities like going to the playground, going swimming and doing arts and crafts in the library. Elly took Jess to group sessions and workshops attended by other children, encouraging her to make friends and practise positive social skills. Elly gave Jess lots of positive feedback for her achievements which helped grow her self-confidence.
By the end of the mentoring year, school reported that Jess’ relationship with other children had improved dramatically; she is now friendly, kind and generous to her peers. She is more settled and does not start fights at playtime, instead she chooses to deal with situations verbally and asks for help from a teacher. She learned to recognise when she is getting angry and manages to control her feelings to prevent outbursts, which means that other children are no longer scared of her.
Jess became so much more confident thanks to Elly’s mentoring and developed a great sense of humour, not being scared to laugh at herself. She is happy to be a child again and enjoys age-appropriate activities. Mum said that she and Jess are much closer now and Jess is a happier child. When Jess gets angry at home, she runs upstairs to calm down and then apologises. Mum continues to take Jess to an acting school that Chance UK organised funding for; this helps her to socialise with others and to express herself creatively.
“I want to thank Elly for teaching me how to behave and letting me learn new experiences and go to places I have never been to before. Even if I have been rude to her, she forgives me and gives me another chance.”