Isabel, aged 9, and her sister Grace, aged 8, were both referred to Welcare’s pilot school group programme by their school’s pastoral team. There was a history of domestic violence and parental conflict, and they were each struggling to recover from the trauma in different ways.
The older sister Isabel had witnessed the violence from her father to her mother and needed a space where she could make sense of the distressing events she had been exposed to. Grace, the younger sister, had not witnessed the violence but was struggling with the loss of her father since he had left the family and had not had any contact with his daughters since. The school had arranged counselling for the mother to address her trauma but wanted to work in partnership with Welcare to support Isabel and Grace.
Welcare offered each of the children a place in different school group programmes held at their school. The school group programme is a trauma-informed programme which aims to improve the social and emotional well-being of primary school children who have underlying anxiety and wounds caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which can often fuel inter-parental conflict and prevent meaningful change. These groups would allow each of them to explore their experiences and feelings with their peers, who may have had similar experiences, and not feel so isolated and alone.
In the group, Welcare staff used a combination of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques, art & craft, and group work activities to help each of the children to understand their emotions and the impact of their trauma and loss. For Isabel, we were able to support her with her feelings of anger and fear from witnessing her father’s abuse and help her gain a better understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like and that her father’s abuse was not her fault. For Grace, we supported her with her feelings of sadness and loss and helped her rebuild her confidence and self-esteem and express her overwhelming feelings.
When the group ended, Grace gave the group a 10/10 for how well she felt listened to by Welcare and a 9/10 for how helpful she found the sessions, and her gain in confidence was clear when she said, ‘In my group, I learnt how to show what I feel inside and share it’.
Through our partnership work with Isabel and Grace’s school, we were able to support their family through the trauma and loss of their father’s abuse and subsequent leaving of the family home. Both children and their mother were able to navigate their challenging home situation and had overall improved emotional well-being and resilience.
We have now completed our pilot programme and reviewed its success and will be launching ‘CapeAbility for Schools’ in September 2023. To read more about our CapeAbility for Schools programme, please visit our CapeAbility for Schools page.