We welcomed Callum^ and Stephen^ to Kibble Shared Living Foster Care in December 2018. Up until this point, the boys had never been in care. In the year previous they’d lost their dad, and much had changed in their young lives. Their mum, two younger sisters (now in kinship care), and the extended family struggled to cope with the loss of their dad.

The brothers were always getting up to mischief and known to the police. They often took cannabis and other substances to help them cope with their loss. Callum also began to experience suicidal thoughts. When he feels stressed Callum can become aggressive towards his older brother Stephen, hitting him and destroying his belongings. He doesn’t like when Stephen takes ‘hard’ drugs and worries about him dying. Stephen tries to support Callum and look after him, but this isn’t easy when he gets angry and aggressive so quickly.

Initially, the brothers used to abscond regularly from mainstream education in order to see their mum and revisit the places where they used to spend time. By ensuring they had regular access to structured leisure activities that they previously attended this soon stopped.

Shared Living Foster Care has given Callum and Stephen the structure, safety and support more commonly associated with residential school care. Experienced carers and staff have co-ordinated their approach to a learning pathway that focuses on trauma-informed care. They work as a team in the carers’ home, within mainstream schools and alongside other community-based agencies. This has enhanced the capacity and resilience of the carers.

The brothers are retaining their own identity whilst gaining a sense of belonging in an extended professional family that complements and respects their own. Mum along with her sons are building trusting relationships with Kibble’s carers and staff, enabling them to be supported with, amongst many other things, bereavement counselling. Mum used to discuss their dad’s death constantly with the two boys which was reinforcing the trauma they were experiencing and preventing them from moving forward with the grieving process. By offering her the right therapeutic support and an outlet for her grief she doesn’t talk to her sons as much about this.

Stephen is a natural academic, caring and clever. Callum is athletic, becoming more confident and calmer. Both are polite and well-mannered and with the right support networks in place, the boys are beginning to realise their potential.

The Shared Living team, along with colleagues in addiction, education and social services have recognised the excellent progress Callum and Stephen are making. With their mum’s support the boys’ confidence is beginning to grow and they are starting to believe in themselves too. ^ Names changed to protect the identity of the young people.