Over the past year young Islanders were able to access support for a variety of problems they were facing thanks to Seeking Solutions, a programme designed to help young people tackle challenges affecting their happiness or wellbeing.
One Jersey mother, called Sandra*, credits the service for transforming her son’s outlook on life.
‘Tom* struggled with his social skills and found it difficult to build friendships,’ she said. ‘He wanted to have a best friend. This was his biggest concern. He would notice other children playing with their best friends and the fact he didn’t have one was very upsetting to him.
‘At one point, he was telling us that he had no friends and saying, “I wish I was dead. Why am I alive? I’ve got no one”. For my husband and me to hear that was soul-destroying – we thought it was so dark for a young person to have these feelings.’
Tom was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. Both Sandra and her husband attended a lot of parenting courses via the government, but from Tom’s perspective nothing was quite right for him.
Sandra continued: ‘As Tom started Year 6 at school, I became even more concerned. I was aware that he would be going into secondary school soon and the support systems and pressures when you are in secondary school are completely different. In primary school, as a parent, you feel you have a little bit more control and can help them a bit more.
‘This is why we sought mental-health support for him. But this was hard, as what’s available is so limited. We went to a mental-health charity and although they were going to give us some support, ADHD is currently defined as a medical condition rather than a mental-health problem – it is classified as a brain-development issue. As a result there are limits around the type and level of support you can get access to.’
It was a specialist at Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services who suggested a service called Seeking Solutions run by the NSPCC.
Seeking Solutions is a service offered to children aged between seven and 18, although younger children may be considered, depending on the individual.
The programme aims to help and support youngsters to deal with problems affecting their life, happiness or wellbeing.
Practitioners from NSPCC Jersey’s centre, based on Stopford Road in St Helier, do this by helping children to improve their confidence, skills and strengths, which in turn means they are better prepared to cope with any future problems.
Seeking Solutions can help children with a variety of issues, ranging from coping with feelings of anger, sadness or rejection to dealing with peer pressure or bullying.
Sandra continued: ‘At the time, I knew NSPCC ran Childline and I knew they were a charity but I didn’t realise they offered this kind of support for children – I didn’t realise Seeking Solutions was a thing.
‘Tom had ten sessions. To begin, my husband and I actually went in and met the practitioner for an initial meeting and we were able to run through our concerns. There was always transparency around what the NSPCC would be helping Tom with, and I felt during the whole programme that we had open communication.
‘He really enjoyed coming and seeing his NSPCC practitioner – they even did a few sessions in his school environment and he was always comfortable and happy to attend.
‘Since attending these sessions, there have definitely been changes in Tom. He has been a lot more positive. The NSPCC did a little work with him on friendship, and he’s been more positive and understanding. For example, if someone says anything hurtful to him, he knows not to take it too personally as they might be going through some issues themselves. Just having somebody else to talk to him other than mum and dad has definitely helped him. He is managing his emotions much better.’
Children’s Services practitioner Stephanie Harding delivers the service to children from across the Island. She said: ‘Seeking Solutions is a young person-led service where the young person is in control of how they think through issues that may be affecting them – that’s what makes this so special.
‘Young people are encouraged and supported in coming up with their own solutions to improve their individual situations, empowering them to make positive changes.
‘After working with this programme, I have seen children’s self-esteem grow, their self-worth increase and I have watched them grow in confidence.
‘I’ve also seen children become less anxious and watched their resilience grow. Knowing that they are in control, even by making small changes, they can improve their overall health, wellbeing and happiness.
‘The Seeking Solutions service supports children and young people and allows their voices to be heard. I would like to encourage children, young people and parents or carers to contact us, even for an informal chat, to see if Seeking Solutions is something that could help you.’
Anyone keen to find out more about services offered by NSPCC Jersey can contact the charity on 760800 or email JerseyServiceCentre@nspcc.org.uk.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.
It costs in the region of £700,000 a year to deliver both preventative and therapeutic services from The Gower Centre, Stopford Road.
Roughly 90% of the NSPCC’s funding relies on voluntary donations, helping ensure that specialised practitioners are here in Jersey to help children, young people and their families.
Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 or visit childline.org.uk any time of the day or night.
Adults concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline seven days a week on 0808 800 5000, or email email@example.com.