Young People Speak

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Young People Speak

“The Gang becomes a surrogate family to young people with challenging home lives”

It doesn’t have to be this way

In 2006 I was arrested and charged with kidnapping, possession of a fire arms, and possession of live bullets with intent to endanger life. This was when I first met Claudine. She came to court to do some sort of assessment. I remember thinking ere we go she’s just gonna ask a load of nosey questions.  But she was ok she didn’t talk to me as though I was a criminal and she actually made me feel a lot better about been locked –up.  After she left I was sent to Feltham on the way there I remember thinking I’m not gonna be able to hack this and why was this happening to me.

I got to Feltham in the Thursday evening and was locked in a cell. I stayed in the cell and couldn’t face seeing anyone. The weekend seemed so long and by the end of Saturday evening I felt suicidal. My feeling at first was I really wanted out I wanted to die, and on Sunday evening I attempted to commit suicide. I was later told that my attempt was the closest they had come to losing one of their inmates. Claudine worked hard to get me moved from Feltham and with 24 hours I was placed in a secure unit. From here thing gradually got better but these feeling didn’t go away.

Claudine visited me a least once a week and was always available on the phone. She made arrangements for me to have various assessments while I was in the secure unit, as well as retaking some of my exams which I failed at school. I had mental health assessments and they found that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Claudine spoke with me about my childhood and what had lead up to my offense. Between us we realise that a lot of things had contributed to my behaviour and the way I was feeling about myself.  I stayed in the secure unit until I went to trial.

My trial began in the Old Bailey.  This was very frightening; I was in a court with murders and terrorist.  However because the court was very busy, my case got moved to Snaresbrook crown court.  My trial lasted three weeks and Claudine came to court every day for two weeks.  She made sure that everything was ok and nothing went wrong.  However something did go wrong.  One day Claudine told me she had to leave court early as she had to be in another court.  I felt fine cause everything was going ok, except at the end of the day instead of going back to the secure unit I was transported back to Feltham.

Once again it felt like my world was crashing, and I prayed for the morning.  The next morning Claudine was in court before I was.  When I got there she explained that she had spoken to the Judge and the Youth Justice Board.  She explained that my return to Feltham was a mistake and that she had sorted it.  After this event Claudine explained that she was going to be on annual leave and would see me when she got back.

I was sentence to five years in custody which was reduced for the time I was on remand, and my mental health issues’ were taken into consideration.  I then had to serve eighteen months.  After my sentencing I still spoke to Claudine on a regular basis.  My sentence was manageable and in the difficult times I applied all the coping techniques that Claudine had taught me.  Claudine left the YOT whilst I was in custody.  However she stayed in contact with my family who she had provided support too.  When I came out of custody I met with Claudine.  I had made it out the other side and just wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for been there, for holding my hand and never letting go.

Now life is a lot better, and I’m happy to say thank you to somebody believed in me.

RP 2010

Dear Claudine, (Social worker)

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your dedication whilst dealing with my niece.

N.P came into contact with the criminal justice system after she stabbed her father (my brother) On appearance at court she was charged with attempted murder, and remanded to custody. We knew that she was going to be facing a long time in prison. After she was remanded to custody you kept us informed of the process and what would happen next. After you had some your assessment you informed us that you were not happy with her answers to some of the assessment questions and would be aiming to have further assessments done. You explained that the final agreement was with the court but you were hopeful that it would be agreed.

You approached the court judge and explained you concerns as to what had happened to her in the past, how she had presented in court and the answers to her vulnerability assessment questions. My niece was removed from the remand unit and sectioned for 28 days to a mental health assessment unit for adolescence. After the 28 days they reported that N.P was suffering from early onset psychosis, which was drug induced. It was also established that she was suffering from depression.

These finding helped to mitigate the charge of attempted murder to one of GBH. Because of your input as her social worker, and the work of her solicitor, my niece did not go to prison but was treated for her health challenges in the community. My family and I, just wanted to take the time to acknowledge your dedication and thank you for the six months that you worked with my niece, you showed her commitment and compassion at every stage and we are very grateful

Kindest regards

S.P summer 2006