When first asked to meet with this young person I was advised by my supervisor that the foster carer was a little reluctant to have ‘yet another professional’ involved in the young person’s life and that they may be obstructive to my visit.
When I called the foster carer to arrange a meeting I initially arranged to meet at the home and decided to keep the visit short. I understood the foster carers concerns and saw that her motives were genuine and that she wanted only the best for the young person in her care. I struck a rapport with the foster carer, explaining the nature of my role as an independent visitor; I explained that young people who have many placements sometimes benefit from having a consistent person in their lives. I explained in detail the nature of my role and answered her queries and concerns and she seemed happy remarking that it was different to how she had perceived it to be.
When I met the young person (aged 10) for the first time I was struck by how young she was for her years; I knew a little about her background and her innocent demeanour seemed to defy the very difficult circumstances of her early life. During the early days we did getting to know you activities such as strength cards, drawing, talking about life, favourite programmes, school etc. The young person was very relaxed with me but a little shy socially and I respected the fact that she would need both time and encouragement to truly feel able to be herself.
Gradually and over time she began to talk about her earlier life experiences, never in any great depth but just spoke about them here and there; I felt it important to let her lead the pace regarding anything she wanted to talk about. I recall in the early days taking her out so she could choose a Christmas present but she found the whole thing overwhelming and could not make a decision; at times like this I would consult with her foster carer who knew and understood her well and between us we would come up with something that the y/p liked and would enjoy. I understood that my y/p had not had the opportunity to make her own decisions before and therefore I took my time, gradually encouraging her to choose things she liked, for example, from the menu when we ate out. Eating out was one of her favourite things and after a time she would not only confidently say what she wanted but also order it herself; she was always very polite and I felt that the experience of seeing me order that way was something she began to positively model and then finally own.
As the years went by she became much more enthusiastic about our meetings and would often come out to me saying ‘I have SO much to tell you’ – I encouraged and nurtured her enthusiasm and also listened intently if she had any little worries to share. I really looked forward to seeing my young person and each month/year I would see small but significant changes in her. I think that a part of me still saw her as that very young child while another part of me witnessed her growing confidence and maturity.
I would have regular supervision meetings about my independent visits and although there were rarely any queries I was grateful for the support in the event that anything should arise. As the years went on my young person became more independent of our meetings and much more involved in her own life with her peers and her education. I welcomed her blossoming and saw it as positive that she was showing increasing independence. I felt for a time that we could finish our meetings but wanted to let the young person decide in her own time as I knew she had experienced rejection in her younger life and did not want to compound this. Gradually, at her request and with my agreement, our meetings became less frequent until one day she said she no longer needed to see me as ‘she was too busy’ and everything was okay. I reassured her that I was glad she felt able to make that decision at a time that was right for her. She told me excitedly about her plans for the future and, after consulting with my supervisor and the foster carer, I exchanged numbers with my young person as she told me she would want to tell me about her forthcoming exam results. I gave her a card and a parting gift (once again I consulted with both supervisor and foster carer on this) and she was very happy. We parted finally after knowing each other for six years and I felt that the contact we had was enabling and positive for a young person; the closure was also important as it empowered her to make a decision that meant a relationship ended positively and with good feelings. Nyas and Social Care; I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with this young person – thank you!