Improving early help – Sam’s Story

Care leavers help to improve Early Help working practice

Sam Heaton, Participation Apprentice, Children’s Social Work & Child Protection, along with three other young people delivered a presentation to the Early Help Group to make better work practice within their job roles.

Sam explains: “We are all care leavers and the purpose of the presentation was to share our experiences and make the group think about that if the professionals involved with us did things different then our outcomes would have been different and we may have not had such a hard time growing up within the care system.

I gave a 15 minute presentation on teenage pregnancies and young parents, in the presentation I included my own story and I used the statement ‘If I am not safe, how can I keep my baby safe’ that’s a key message that I think professionals should remember when working with families. I think that we should remember if we can help parents help themselves with their own issues then the rest would slowly fall into place. I am aware that this sadly may not and can’t happen in all cases but shouldn’t we at least try?

Another training method I gave which most people tend to forget is state and ask the obvious. When I was pregnant many people did not ask me if I wanted my baby, nor did they check where I was living was safe for me or my son. Sometimes the basic checks are the most important.

The activity continued and covered topics such as the complicated issues that families that come into Early Help are likely to have. Participants got to think about how the issues may affect everyday life for the family and also why it may be hard asking for help. They covered abuse, drug/alcohol misuse, learning disabilities and mental health.”

Sam concludes: “To keep children and young people safe with any of the issues going on in a family one of the most important things that needs to be done is sitting down and talking to the child. Even if the child doesn’t/can’t talk to you, if you look out for body language and how they present themselves that should tell enough about how life is for them with what is going on in their life.

Not everyone is going to tell the truth about what is going on and how life really is for them so sometimes we just have work with what we’ve got.”

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