14 year old Joel is frustrated. His Mum is on at him again because he’s not been doing his schoolwork since the schools closed in the lockdown. But what’s he supposed to do? Loads of it is online and he doesn’t have enough credit to download his assignments on his phone. So in the meantime he’s got to put up with his Mum nagging him and his little brother and sister getting on his nerves.
The four of them live on the fourth floor in a two-bedroom flat without a garden or a patio. Cabin fever is setting in and he’s worried he’s going to blow his top and go off the rails again. Plus money is tight and his Mum is stressing about having enough food and how quickly the electric meter is running down with them all at home.
St Giles met Joel through our work in schools helping to prevent vulnerable young people at risk from becoming lured into things like county lines drug dealing and serious violence. Joel’s home life was difficult and he had started to become disruptive. Sometimes he skipped lessons altogether and was running around on the streets.
Our caseworker Anthony could see the path Joel was going down as he had been there himself. It was one that ended up in prison or perhaps worse.
He met up regularly with Joel to try and get him to open up. After a while, Joel confided that there were serious money problems at home and they were at risk of being evicted. Joel’s Dad was long gone and his Mum often relied on Joel to be the ‘man of the house’ as he put it. Joel felt useless that he couldn’t help.
Anthony explained to Joel that his education came first and foremost and that he should not feel guilty about the problems at home. Joel said some of his friends dealt drugs as a way of getting cash and he was tempted to the same just to help his Mum out a bit. Anthony showed Joel that this was not a solution to the situation. After all, he’d done something similar himself many years back and it had landed him 10 years in prison. If Joel was sent to prison, how would this help his Mum?
Anthony’s experiences made Joel think hard. Over time, Anthony helped him focus his mind on his schoolwork once again and next year he is due to start studying for his GCSEs. We also helped ease the financial strain on his family by helping his Mum manage her debts. In turn, this has increased her confidence and so she is now being helped by us to look for work.
At St Giles, we believe people have the power to turn their life around – no matter what their situation. Many of us have been in similar situations and use our past experiences to inspire and support those living through it right now.
Things are now looking up for the family but Joel is still sometimes vulnerable to peer pressure. And with the lockdown, we are worried that he will be around these negative influences more often unless we can keep him focused on his schoolwork and his family financially stable.
And this is where you can help. By donating just £10 you can help us ensure Joel has enough credit on his phone to download his assignments and keep in contact with us. Anthony will phone Joel each day to check how he is doing and stress the importance of continuing to do his schoolwork. He will also check in with Mum and your help can ensure that the family’s utility meters are topped up and that the four of them have enough food.