Since it started in 2015, ‘Door to The Future’, The Door’s bespoke mentoring and support scheme for young people leaving the care system, has become embedded into the work of Social Care across the District. Debbie, who manages the scheme, engages with around 25 young people per year, assessing their needs and offering the support from a small team of specifically trained volunteer mentors.
One of these young people is Andy, this is his story:
(Andy’s challenging and emotional story may be upsetting to some readers)
When we first met Andy in April 2018 he was recovering from an overdose that he had taken a few weeks earlier.
Being a young person in care and having recently turned 18 Andy had experience a lot of change in his life; changing from child to adult services meant he now had a whole new team of staff to meet, as well as a change of accommodation and a different level of care. He had experienced too much change too quickly for him and felt he couldn’t cope anymore.
When The Door first started to meet with Andy he was keen to engage but was struggling with his mental health, finding it hard to sleep, and not knowing how to take care of himself. Often his mentor would turn up and he’d still be asleep. His room was messy, he hadn’t fed himself or if he had it was quick convenience meals and he’d not have washed up.
Over the following months and as their relationship developed, his mentor was able to attend doctors’ appointments with him, take him to crisis meetings, then recovery meetings, and support him in making some better choices.
Andy talked to his mentor for long periods at a time, being very open and honest about his drug use and not wanting to take his meds. Trust between Andy and his mentor continued to grow and this trust led to them attending Andy’s hospital appointments together. This enabled his mentor to encourage him to contribute more at appointments to ensure he explained how he was feeling and what extra support he needed.
The future was beginning to look brighter for Andy.
Unfortunately a number of people close to him took their own lives in a short period of time.
Andy turned to alcohol to help him deal with his feelings, this led to several incidents when he was involved in fights. As a result Andy was given a suspended sentence and an emergency removal to a different area to ensure he was safe and that he didn’t lose his accommodation. He was extremely worried that he would lose his mentor from The Door but we were able to assure him that we would still be able to work with him.
This unexpected move threw Andy into a spin, he didn’t want to be there but the support team around him was providing the scaffolding that he needed. His mentor continued to see him twice a week, kept taking him to his doctors’ appointments and was alongside him when he was referred to recovery. Eventually Andy was prescribe new medication which has had a major impact on his mental health.
As part of his probation the courts insisted Andy attended weekly drug testing. Initially he needed support to attend these but gradually his mentor has been able to take a step back and encourage his independence.
With continued support and encouragement from his mentor and the further support around him Andy completed his probation period, paid off his fine and eventually tested negative to all drugs.
Meanwhile Andy has been working hard completing his Lifewise anger management module and did so with good engagement. He has completed the start of a Bronze level arts award and he has even signed up to an Open University Math and Science course! This without any prompting from anyone as he says he wants to better himself. He has also gained two AQA accredited qualifications for cooking.
His social worker said ‘I am so proud of the young man he is turning into and I know you will all feel the same. I just wanted to thank everyone for their continuing hard work, persistence and teamwork with him as it is clear we have all pulled in the same direction with consistency. We have all, including his mentor, worked really well together.’
Andy said The Door has “supported me, helped me, I can’t do this on my own. Its helped to have someone to talk to, my mentors like a Mum. She helps me to make things clearer and sort things out, helps me to see what the right thing to do, talks to me about things, listens to me and doesn’t judge me.”
“If I hadn’t had the help I’ve had I don’t know what would be going on now. I was feeling like S***, I didn’t have any support around me and my meds just weren’t right.”
“I’m grateful to The Door for all the help they’ve given me, with the help of my leaving care workers, I am making progress. I’m not sure I’d be here if it hadn’t been for all their help.”
Door to the Future is made possible thanks to support from the Lloyds Bank Foundation
If you would like to find out more about Door to the Future or about accessing any of The Door’s other support, find the service that is right for you on this website or call the office on 01453 756745 (Mon – Fri, 9-5)
And if you would like to support The Door’s wider services by making a donation you can do so at thedoor.org.uk/donate