Isla is a 13-year-old girl who was referred to Love4Life by the alternative provision unit in her school. She had just been given a diagnosis of ADHD. She hadn’t been attending the unit long and had recently found out that her biological dad was not the man that had brought her up. Consequently Isla’s relationship with her mum was strained which made her depressed and affected her behaviour in school. Her school attendance was poor, and when she did go, she wasn’t very engaged. She refused to wear her uniform and was excluded almost every week.
Isla has a very tough exterior. She has 7 siblings and her “parents” as she had thought of them had recently ended their relationship. Her friends were all in the main school so she was isolated from them.
In her initial one to one session we realised she was keeping her guard up. Her self- evaluation form gave the impression that she did not need our support. We spoke about how she had assessed herself, and she confessed she hadn’t been honest. She then admitted that she really struggles with self-esteem, understanding relationships and making friends. She described how people expect her to act a certain way and how she now has to keep up this persona, which was becoming challenging for her.
After this Isla was very open and we started to be able to help her. She would discuss how she wouldn’t wear certain clothes and had stopped wearing make-up outside of the house because boys would call her derogatory names. She had stopped extra-curricular activities as she didn’t feel confident enough to attend and within school she felt like she didn’t know how to express herself positively without getting into trouble.
Each week we worked on activities to help her confidence, behaviour and self- esteem. We often discussed her home life and her feelings of betrayal over the father. We worked on helping her to understand healthy relationships. Isla always engaged in every session, she was able to speak openly to me about her struggles and wanted to find solutions to support her growth. We encouraged Isla to join clubs of interest to her both in and outside of school and also looked at positive ways for her to understand and express her feelings.
As the weeks went on staff informed us that they had really noticed a difference in how Isla handled certain situations, her attendance had increased and she wore her uniform every day. Her relationship with her mum had improved and they had started doing more things together which she felt really helped her. She also told me that she had worn a dress for the first time to a party and that she would not have done that before she worked with me. Isla has only been excluded once throughout my time with her which is a huge improvement. She has made friends within the alternative provision unit and has also joined a waiting list for a dance class.
Isla is now able to view herself and the world much more positively, and she believes she has a voice and can achieve anything she wants. This means she now has a much more positive attitude towards her education and life generally.