I had for 3 years been through a lot from the breakdown in my marriage to the loss of my dad. It felt like the floor had been ripped from under me. I knew the situation could not be fixed but wasn’t sure how to get through it. I had asked for help through my GP and was put on medication and needed to self-refer into local talking therapies. I was offered bereavement counselling or counselling for my childhood abuse. I choose bereavement counselling and had 8 sessions. I didn’t feel anything had changed after this and could not see any point in trying to get more counselling. My mental health meant that I was not in the right place to seek help and just felt unsupported and left to deal with it on my own.
I could barely get myself out of bed some days and felt like no one else could be bothered to help me, and I didn’t feel worthy of support. It all felt like a waste of time. I couldn’t cope with working and was signed off sick with my mental health for depression.
I found out about Crea8ing Careers through a friend, who gave me details about a course they were running about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She convinced me by saying that even if I did not feel like I would get anything out of the course, they would still help and support.
I started the course and at first, I was quite sceptical. I had been through many interventions since the age of eighteen and nothing had really helped. I decided to give it a go as I was in such a bad place and just bottled everything up.
It was great to understand the impact of ACEs and took away some of the self-blame and shame of how I had dealt with everything. I found that it explained so much about the impact on brain development and everything from health to education. Suddenly it felt like someone finally “got me”.
The group was so supportive, and I realised I was not alone, and others were also experiencing difficulties. I felt more normal for once. For the first time, I didn’t feel the need to put on a brave face and pretend, and others in the group as well as the facilitators would be there for me with no sense of being judged.
I learned how to use strategies to change my thinking and suddenly felt it was life changing. I started doing more reading, taking time for myself, practising meditation, started going for walks in nature, using my gratitude journal they sent me to help think more positively.
The group and facilitators are always there. Knowing that I could get in contact at any time meant I felt less alone. I didn’t feel I could talk to family and friends as it was embarrassing or would feel ashamed, not wanting them to know how bad I was feeling. With the groups, they understood and would help talk me through how to manage things in the moment.
GPs, counsellors and others always felt like I was being passed from pillar to post and I had to deal with each issue separately, going over and over the same thing. But here they treated you like a whole person. You could even get in touch out of hours and just chat, if needed or talk to others in the groups.
They recommended additional support with their Family Coach that really helped me focus on small goals and puts you in a more positive mindset. It made me feel more able to do things and started building my confidence, allowing me to feel able to do even more things for myself.
It made me feel able to not just put up with “bad things” in my life and gave me the confidence to speak up for myself. They all made me feel more capable of doing things and changing my situation. The whole support gave me the tools to think about things in a different way and showed me how to accept the negative things that happened, and I’ve found it easier to let go.
During this whole pandemic it’s given me something to look forward to every week and not just being stuck on my own. I have joined in with bingo and quiz nights, as well as our regular group dates. It just helped keep me going through all this. I feel l’m in a totally different place now. I would previously have been overwhelmed by little things going wrong but now feel able to think about different ways to deal with things, feel more resilient and don’t just give up. I am not being overwhelmed by the emotion of it all. I am making lists of things to do and just getting on with it; I’m not scared of dealing with the solicitor about my divorce or talking with my Mum as her health is bad and feels she may pass soon which would previously have sent me over the edge.
I feel so much happier now. I had got to the point where it just felt like existing and I didn’t really want to be here. Now I am looking forward to my future. It may not be the one I had expected but I now think it may be even better. I feel like I have choices again. Nothing else had previously changed my mindset and the feeling I could never escape my past, but I now feel free from it. It’s not gone away but I’m not carrying it now. It’s like it’s beside me not inside me. Having their support feels like family, even though I know this is what they do. I am now thinking about how to make sure I keep myself strong, I would like to use my experience to help others and I’m looking at training that will help me do this. They have offered me training in Youth Mental Health First Aid which I can use in the future but also to support my family, and although I know I’m not there yet, I’m looking forward to being able to help others in the future and give something back.
Rachel, July 2020
I was incredibly stressed with the behaviour issues of my children and had social services on the case. I did the Youth Connect 5 course and I have never felt more at ease in my life. I felt that I could share anything, and we were all in the same kind of place.
I felt that I made some good friends who supported me and understood what I was dealing with. The ACEs was my favourite, which taught me about myself, what had gone on and the effect it had had on me. It gave me ways to deal with the children and built our family resilience.
I realised that just because they were children and although I might not have thought something was really that important, realising that for them it was and being able to try and put myself in their shoes, and that we all need support, no matter what age we are.
It has helped me to build a relationship with my teenage daughter who was struggling with her mental health and means that I am now better able to support her, and she is more open and honest with me about what is going on. This has helped her mental health and helped improved mine too, as I am less stressed and anxious as she is able to talk to me.
They have become part of my support network, as felt that I could just be completely open and honest about what was going on and felt at ease, I had not felt like that with other organisations, and I have been in quite a few. We can all keep in touch after the courses through the WhatsApp groups and you know that they are always there whenever you need them, even after courses have finished.
During COVID, they have offered a lot of practical support when my daughters bed broke, I posted in our WhatsApp group and within 10 mins, they called to say it was sorted and we could go and pick it up or they could try and arrange for it to be delivered. We were happy and able to collect it and just glad it was sorted so quickly. We also needed a stairgate as the baby had been flooding the bathroom which leaked into the bedroom. Again they sorted it out through the family networks and delivered to us. They even sent several food boxes which helped with finances, and games, bedding and other lovely bits for the children which was nice to know they were thinking of us and understood things were hard. I not only have a better understanding of how to deal with things at home with the children, but also in my relationship and it just all makes me feel more at ease. As a result, we have been removed from the Child Protection Register, although we remain on Child In Need for a few more months but things are looking good towards this ending too. I think the courses helped as social services could see that I was able to get support and then put new strategies into place at home which helped the girls calm down and made things better.
Sarah, July 2020
We were involved with Social Services and YOT team referred me through to Crea8ing Careers because my eldest son was going off the rails, hanging out with the “wrong” kids and getting himself into trouble. I used to go in all guns blazing and start roaring at him, which made things worse and I didn’t know what to do.
The courses taught me how to consider their feelings, talk to them more effectively and put myself back into their shoes. Now, things are much better, he’s not getting into trouble. He used to be regularly suspended from school but since I started doing the courses, we have not had single exclusion. My son is now doing brilliantly and is looking at going to college and apprenticeships, and he is looking at voluntary work too.
I have loved the support that I got from them. I felt able to just turn up and say anything without worrying about what kind of look I would get or what people might think. It made me feel less isolated and realise that I was not alone, and that other people were having the same kind of struggles that I was.
The courses have helped me and others realise that our children having a diagnosis for things like ADHD and ASD is not the end of the world and that there is stuff that can be done to help, without always just being considered “the naughty” child.
It has meant that I have the knowledge about mental health and what's going on in the brain to be able to offer support and advice to him and others, explaining what is actually going on, which has massively improved his mental health and my confidence in dealing with things.
I started volunteering with them after doing the ACEs recovery course which sparked my passion and motivation for helping others. The children’s programme was amazing to be able to give back, as I have lived with children with similar issues myself and being able to support other parents has been amazing. I did my safeguarding certificate, Lego Therapy training and got my DBS all done by them. I'm thinking about getting qualifications to work with children.
My mum and husband have noticed the change and he even jokes “who are these people and what have they done to my wife”. I am so much calmer and more able to deal with things without getting mouthy and creating drama. I can just walk away now. I have noticed that my children are also dealing with things better and able to use more positive coping strategies.
All the groups are so supportive, and I haven’t felt uncomfortable being in any of them even though there were new people I didn’t know. I love how we can keep in touch with each other in all the groups and even if we go quiet for a while, we are still included in everything and always feel able to jump back in whenever. I have been with them for over a year and know they are there whenever I need them. Their graduations for parents are really great because they make you feel special and really proud of yourself, especially for people that really haven’t had much praise in their lives.
During lockdown, they called all the time to check on us, delivered afternoon tea on VE day and invited us to virtual events to keep us feeling positive. I even nominated one of the team for the Wirral View Acts of Kindness.
Absolutely love it and tell everyone about what they do!
Anne, July 2020
From the beginning I went there broken. I found an amazing group of people in my first course who not only supported me through my situation both during the programme and in practical terms outside of it. For example, I needed a buggy for my daughter who is 2 and was able to ask in our group. Immediately they were able to ask through all the groups and got one for me and delivered within a few days.
Or during lockdown being able to advise who in our local area was making face coverings as I was anxious about going out with the children, or which charity shops were open to get stuff we needed. They even sent a delicious slow cooker meal which not only help finances but took a bit of pressure off, as did not need to think about what to cook and it was delicious.
Being part of the courses and groups showed me that I was not alone and that it was okay to admit I was struggling, gave me better coping strategies in dealing with myself and the children, and made me realise I really needed to consider their feelings as well, which has helped tremendously in lockdown.
Basically, it has given me a better community of people that I can turn to for help, and help others and made me feel a part of a bigger network. Not only have I got my course friends and groups but there are others that have asked for help or helped me, which has made me feel better, more confident within myself to know that I can cope without turning back to my old ways. I had been using drink to cope with things which had led to my daughter being taken into care. The support and learning from the programmes gave me the ability to turn things around and now my daughter is home again.
The courses taught me to improve my communication and listening, looking into what the impact of my upbringing had been, how to improve my children’s ability to share their emotions and trying to keep our stress levels down when dealing with things. They did not just stop supporting me when I finished the courses but I was able to go on other courses that have helped and they continue to support even after a year. They are still there to support now, and I can contact them anytime and still have the support whether to just use as a sounding board, ask for advice or share my news, good or bad. I still feel part of a wider family who are all there for me.
Cilla, May 2020
At the start of the COVID-19 crisis my daughter was stuck away from home and unable to return as the friend due to bring her back suddenly needed to self-isolate. She was so anxious and upset as she wanted to come home. I got a call, just checking in on me and told them the situation. They were able to provide the funds so that I could pay for the train fare for her return.
I am a nurse working within a care home and do not drive, so finding time and getting to the shops is always tricky. I was struggling to get baby milk for my 2-year-old and hadn’t been able to get out to even get Easter Eggs for my 4 children. Again, when they called to check in on me and I just mentioned this, Crea8ing Careers got it sorted and not only got me the baby food but also Easter Eggs so that the kids didn’t have to go without.
Unfortunately, I was unlucky and my microwave, tumble dryer and teenage daughter’s bed all broke at the same time. I was worried as to how I would cover the cost of replacing all these items as a single parent and finances are tricky. They have arranged for a bed through their community connections, bought me a microwave and helped me with sorting out a dryer.
I have been really worried working with COVID patients, some of our residents passing away and being high risk myself, that having them to talk to, getting information and reassurance has been a great support. Our weekly bingo nights with others that have done their courses, has been real fun and just helped to ease the sense of isolation when we are not able to get together with friends and just gives a brief sense of normality and relief from the anxiety in this crisis.
I had done a parenting course with them, as my son was having trouble in school and attends a special school locally. This gave me the skills to help support him through this difficult time. It was hard at first but then I got the hang of it and it has made all the difference. He is now doing much better at school, not getting into fights, helping at home and following family rules.
I have never really had any kind of emotional support and although it’s what they do, it feels more like an extended family and friendship. Knowing that I can just drop them a message whatever time of day or night, and they will get back to you immediately or as soon as possible. It just feels like there is someone there for you, no matter what. There is a sense of no judgement, either amongst their team or even with the other people from the courses. Sometimes, when people help you, it feels like they are judging you and it puts you off sharing your problems and hard to accept their support. There is none of that with these guys, it feels like someone really cares about you. I even got a little treat package when they knew I was feeling low about work pressures, which just made me feel better.
With this crisis, it has been a great help as there is always someone there, they keep us up to date on information and answer any questions that may come up. The whole group offers emotional support and has really helped keep me going. I am unable to do as many extra shifts as normal and having needed to self-isolate has all taken it’s toll on finances, so having some support with this too has been a blessed relief.
Having three teenage children and a toddler isn’t easy at the best of times, but particularly difficult with this crisis. Having their support just makes the difference.
T, July 2019
I joined the Youth Connect 5 course in the second week, back in January this year. My cousin had brought me along after completing the 13 weeks Strengthening Families programme with Crea8ing Careers. I was very anxious and reluctant to engage and was not sure that I would actually stay. I felt very uncomfortable being there initially. I had been at a stage where I simply was not getting up or doing anything and lying in bed for days. I was very anxious; however, I did return to the next session and over the coming weeks, how I felt, and my attitude changed completely.
By the end of the first five-week course, I was feeling more confident in how to support my daughter and other children with their emotional well-being and had learned gained some knowledge in applying positive strategies. I was able to talk to the children in a better way and remember laughing and saying, “children have feelings, who knew?” I really had never taken their feelings into consideration. Although I was still feeling quite low, I could already feel a change for the better and asked to complete the course for a second time, as I felt that I would get more out of it doing it again. My mood and confidence continued to increase when I did it again.
I have given up using cannabis and started working on reducing how much I was drinking. I kept trying to re-establish a more meaningful relationship with my son and managed much better with his rudeness and aggressive tone when we spoke on the phone. I just kept remembering what we had learned about stress responses on the course. My relationship with my youngest daughter has also improved. She has learning difficulties which can make things quite hard at times but now I am able to deal with her more calmly. Everyone kept saying how much change they could see in me and I really felt like I was making progress, so registered to join the 13 weeks Strengthening Families course which was starting a few weeks later. I was interested in volunteering but was worried about “letting people down”. I was using the WhatsApp group to share my ups and downs and was really surprised at getting a response from others even late at night when I felt low. I really didn’t think for a minute anyone would answer and when they did, I started to feel part of a worldwide group after feeling so isolated for so long, despite my friends and family. I still use the group on an almost daily basis.
When I started the SFSC course, I really was feeling so much better and more positive. I told all the others that hadn’t done the Youth Connect 5 course how much I had got out of it. I told them about having given up drugs, and that my son had now even said he would try and do the same, and he has and is managing to hold down a job now too. We really hadn’t got on for years, but he came and spent a couple of hours, had a cup of tea and a really good chat. It felt so good to be able to do that for the first time in years.
As the SFSC course went on I decided to get involved in volunteering as I wanted something worthwhile to do and to help Crea8ing Careers, as I had got so much from their support. I keep challenging myself with new situations and sometimes feel surprised at what I do now compared to before. I still use the group chat as support, but I also try and offer support to some of the others that are having a hard time too. It was a genuine surprise to be voted joint Inspirational Parent by others in the group at the end of the course. I’m still off the drugs and significantly reduced how much I drink; I have managed to go several weeks without drinking, although I still have the occasional night now and then.
I never really knew any black or Muslim people before, and I wasn’t racist but would not have hung out or anything like that. However, now I know a few black people from the course and outside but realised that I was in some way worried or thought they were so different but really, they are just like the rest of us. I know that sounds silly, but I would never have imagined going to visit and socialise with someone that was Muslim and wears a head scarf and all that, but the Muslim lady on the course has become a friend as well as getting to know the course leaders. I am really pleased that I have got to know them and now definitely feel more open to people from other cultures and backgrounds.
I don’t feel so alone, and I am definitely more confident about myself and things in general. I’ve started losing weight and going out walking with my daughter and dog more regularly. I want to do more volunteering with Crea8ing Careers on the courses as I know how I felt when I first started and feel that I may be able to make others feel welcome and share my experience of getting so much out of it, helping them feel less anxious. They have done my Safeguarding training with me and I got my certificate. I am just waiting for my DBS and looking forward to helping out when the courses start again after the summer.
I have registered to do another course on Adverse Childhood Experiences in September 2019 and just wish I had had the knowledge and strategies that I know now, when my children were younger. I agreed to do this case study, as I want other people to know how much I got from the courses with Crea8ing Careers and how much of a difference it has made to me.
B, August 2019
I came on to the Youth Connect 5 course, last September 2018, with my husband because our daughter was showing issues controlling her anger and struggling emotionally. We are professionals working quite pressured roles and were finding it really difficult to deal with her outbursts and behaviour.
My sister and Dad had been on the autistic spectrum and I felt strongly that my daughter was showing signs of ASD, so we were looking for a diagnosis. We had spoken to the school and other professionals and they had been very dismissive. This left us feeling bad about ourselves and as though we had failed as parents. We saw the course and thought that it may help us, but also so that we could pre-empt the professionals pointing the finger at us as parents, as we continued to pursue a diagnosis.
The course really did help. It got us considering how our daughter was feeling and what was going on for her. We had been focussed on our own perspectives and being reminded of what it was like when we were children, really helped to consider her viewpoint, emotions and developed our empathy.
Being shown practical strategies and techniques we could use and being given the time over the five weeks to get into the right frame of mind to be able to focus and embed the new behaviours into how we dealt with things was great. We felt so much better by the end, realising firstly that we were not “bad” parents, nor were we alone in our struggles with managing our children’s behaviour. We realised that there were many positives, not just in how we were already doing things but also in the children. It really helped us put things into perspective on our daughter’s behaviour as well as giving us the skills to be able to better manage.
The twenty second hug has been a great tool in lessening the tension between us as a family, creating much laughter and amusement, and allowing us to build a closer more positive relationship with her in particular. The continued support with the WhatsApp group has been a real help, as at times we have been unsure about how to handle discipline and had been getting panicky about what to do. Being able to message the group and get a response that reassured us but also gave ideas of how to keep the situation positive meant that we were able to deal with the circumstance, and everything turned out just great.
I had been worried having watched my parents and grandparents deal with my sister and how things had turned out, that my daughter could end up with similar issues. However, we feel that with the strategies we have learned and the ongoing support, we are no longer seeking a diagnosis, and will be able to manage and support her to achieve positive outcomes.
It’s hard because no matter how much you think to yourself, I’m not going to do what my mum or grandma did, when you are in a particular situation with your children, you don’t know what else to do and start repeating behaviours you had wanted to avoid. The course gave us the alternative strategies and techniques to use which are having more positive outcomes.
I would recommend this course to all parents from any walk of life as it has made such a difference to us as a family.
Lucy, Dec 2018
It was quite by chance that I ended up attending a Youth Connect 5 course. With eight children between us, my friend and I had done our fair share of moaning about how hard this parenting lark actually was day in and day out. One day she phoned and asked if I fancied going on this parenting course she’d found on social media.
When we arrived, we weren’t sure what to expect but we were soon put at ease by the lovely course facilitators, Lynne and Suzie. It quickly became a weekly highlight for us; a safe space where we could share freely, listen, laugh and cry with one another.
I think the biggest things I learned over the five weeks was that firstly I am far from alone riding the roller-coaster that is parenting in 2018. Too often we feel isolated, yet at any given time, others are going through similar experiences. The course gave us all an opportunity to learn from and support each other. The second thing that soon became apparent was that the strategies given actually work!
Our family life has been calmer as a result and I have also been able to pass on my knowledge to my partner. Finally, the course emphasises personal wellbeing and the importance of “putting on your own oxygen mask first”. I have made some life changing decisions as a direct result of attending Youth Connect 5, which have and will continue to have, such a positive impact on our family life.
Thank you, Lynne, Suzie and all the lovely ladies at the Belvidere centre in Wallasey for reminding me that parenting and indeed, life itself is an experience to be shared!
Louise, Nov 2018
Crea8ing Careers delivered the Youth Connect 5 parent support programme at our community centre. It has been one of the best courses I have ever done! The way it was delivered meant that not only was it a bit of a laugh, but I didn’t feel judged and could admit some of the things that I had needed to improve.
I realised that I might not get it right every time, but I could keep trying to remember and work on the skills and tips we learned to help improve myself and family relationships. I have really been able to use this in my day to day life, and I can see the changes already.
Registrar of Companies for England and Wales: Crea8ing Careers CIC. Company Reg. No. 8700217