CHICKS - Tom's Story
We are proud to support children like Tom* (name changed for child protection purposes)
Eight year old Tom lives at home with his Mum and three half-siblings. His mum, for most of his life has suffered with challenging mental health problems including Bipolar Disorder.
Over the years, his mum has been put in to care to support her mental health conditions and this has meant severe disruption to Tom’s family setting and routine. Tom’s father is unpredictable and often cancels visits. Understandably, Tom finds this very upsetting and unfair because his siblings have a different father who they get to see more of. Having an inconsistent father figure in his life and a mother doing her best to raise her family whilst living with mental health issues has had an impact on Tom’s ability to express himself and connect with others.
Earlier in his life, Tom witnessed domestic violence from his mother’s previous partners and was given extra support at school through pastoral care which helped him to develop friendships and engage more in class. He responds well to adult engagement once he feels safe with them.
Tom’s primary school teachers told us he is a ‘lovely boy’ and that his friendships keep him going. Tom’s favourite activities are being outdoors, exploring and playing, which is why a CHICKS break felt like the perfect opportunity for him to get away from his day to day life and have time just take time to be a child.
This situation is faced by many of the children who are referred for a CHICKS break.
When Tom arrived at our retreat, he was particularly nervous and withdrawn and refused to communicate with any of his peers or the Leaders. Tom chose not to participate in any games at the beach and refused to eat dinner on the Monday evening. When Leaders approached him, he would turn his back and ignore them, hiding his face in his hands.
Tom continued to be quiet and sullen… until he arrived at the horse riding lesson on the Tuesday afternoon. Although initially nervous, he took a real shining to the horse he was riding and he focused really well, proudly telling the Leaders everything he had learned and demonstrated how well he could trot! When praised by the instructor for his achievements, Tom beamed and gave the volunteer helping him an elated high five.
From then on, Tom seemed completely different; always smiling, getting involved with everything and giggling with his new friends.
It can often take just one moment to change the outcome of a break for a young person.
Later that week, the young people went surfing and Tom was the first to stand up on his board. He was visibly really proud of himself, grinning from ear to ear! He loved being given so much praise and encouragement and he really flourished with every new activity.
On the Friday morning he became slightly withdrawn again, but when a Leader approached him, he turned around and spoke with them about what was upsetting him. This demonstrated just how far he had come in being able to communicate with an adult who he’d been able to trust and build a positive relationship with. Having the opportunity to be away from an unpredictable and challenging home life, to be given the opportunity to talk openly in a safe environment and to try new activities which boosted his confidence, made the world of difference to Tom’s self esteem and outlook.
Your support gives children like Tom a new perspective on life and many happy memories.
Learn more about CHICKS here: CHICKS Website