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Learning how to live again - Joe's story

Alone and vulnerable

Joe* lived with his mum until he was 8 years old, but during that time, he experienced a troubled and traumatic childhood and was severely neglected. His mum struggled with drug abuse and couldn't provide Joe with his basic needs like personal hygiene, healthy eating, physical health, emotional health, and general well-being.

Joe was often left on his own for long periods. His mum would give him her phone to keep him occupied, but he'd often use it to access online pornography. This led to him presenting harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) from the age of 6 years old.

Eventually, Joe's grandparents intervened and removed Joe from his mother's care. Unfortunately, his behaviour became so extreme that his nan and grandad could no longer cope or provide the support he so desperately needed.

A subsequent placement with a foster family also broke down, which is when arrangements were made for Joe to come and live with us.

Building a new life

When Joe first moved in, we worked with him to improve his diet by teaching him how to make healthy home-cooked meals and providing nutritious snacks.

Joe would often talk about how ashamed he was of his body and call himself 'fat' and 'chubby.' We arranged for him to attend therapy so that he could work on building a more positive view of himself and recognise the progress he's made in managing his weight.

Previously, Joe only had baths and showers every few weeks, so we helped him understand the importance of personal hygiene and devised a schedule to wash himself and brush his teeth regularly.

Joe has asthma, so we've helped him manage his condition over time. He now keeps his inhaler in his bedroom, with the plan being for him to self-administer his medication when he needs it.

Joe used to struggle to control his emotions, especially his anger. So, as a result, we gave him lots of support and coping strategies to learn how to identify triggers and self-manage them. 

We provided lots of visual aids, such as making him a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) lanyard to help him convey his feelings more easily. With Joe's input, we created a sensory room in the home where he could relax, feel safe and express himself.

We also encouraged Joe to explore his interests outside of the home by signing him up for karate and climbing clubs. He's fascinated by bugs and creepy crawlies, so when he caught and released his first spider, we made him his very own certificate.

Ready to learn

Once Joe had settled into the home, we found him a new primary school. At first, he attended half days that covered the core subjects, and we'd supplement this with regular trips to the library to expand his knowledge across other topics. 

Eventually, he built up to attending school full-time, which he was pleased about because he got to participate in more fun lessons with his friends.

After receiving amazing SAT (Standard Assessment Tests) results, he moved up to high school at the same time as his peers. While the new school recruited an appropriate TA (teaching assistant), we supported Joe in his classes so that he could get the most out of his lessons.

Joe enjoys school but struggles to stay in his lessons and complete work sometimes, so we continue to support him with this.

Positive steps

Joe's progress in the time he's been with us is incredible. He's transitioned well from part-time schooling to full-time education. He's continuing to do more and more one-to-one activities, with a view to introducing free time during each one for Joe to learn, explore and gain independence.

He can now cook and bake delicious meals for himself, and he's built up an extensive library of recipes, which he loves putting into practice. He's also learned how to use the washing machine and clean and tidy his room and the home's communal areas. 

More recently, Joe has had unsupervised contact with his aunty and plans to do the same with his nana and grandad in the coming months. This is an amazing step for Joe and one that he's really excited about.


“I’ve worked with Joe since August last year. He’s a caring and bright young man with a lot of potential. It’s been a pleasure supporting Joe over these past few months, and I look forward to continuing to support him moving forward.”

Quote from one of Joe’s carers


*We have changed the name to protect the young person’s identity.

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