Big Mentoring – James’s story

James’s mum is on one of our programmes that support the long term unemployed. Her adviser was discussing her situation and she mentioned how she was concerned about her son and how this situation was having a big impact on her wellbeing and her ability to focus on finding work. The adviser suggested she talk to the mentor about how he might be able to help James. James has learning difficulties including autism, slow processing ability and dyslexia and was supported in relation to his special educational needs whilst attending a specialist disability school. James lives at home with mum, his father died when James was a baby and he and his mum have had support from social services in the past. James did attend further education college but struggled due to his learning difficulties and anger issues and has been bullied in the past due to his learning difficulties and a speech impediment.

As a result of his recent challenges James isolated himself at home in his bedroom, he felt safe and comfortable watching TV, playing games and surfing the internet. The only time he left his room was to eat and bathe. His mum became frustrated and ultimately reacted angrily and James would retaliate by getting angry himself. They were struggling financially and when his mum was referred to us we supported her with foodbank vouchers. When James first met with the mentor, his mum accompanied him and it was clear that mum was in control, she did all the talking in meetings with the mentor or with any other agency. She was trying to protect him but was underestimating him and actually holding him back and not giving him a chance. The mentor persuaded mum not to attend future meetings and James’s confidence started to grow.

Not only would he attend meetings alone but he would travel alone on the bus to the meetings, which gave him a huge sense of achievement and freedom. When he first attended sessions he would sit away from people so he did not have to speak to anyone, most of his answers would be yes or no. He has had support from our counsellor and his confidence has grown, he has completed a traineeship with a local provider and attended the SAFE Youth Choices course which uses elements of CBT to develop personal skills such as positive thinking and resilience. James is now hoping to secure a place on the Waves of Change programme doing maritime archaeology and learning about drone flying, virtual reality and 3D modelling.

He no longer sits away from other people, he is confident to engage with people he has never met, he recently took part in a meeting with us and professionals from a partner organisation and was very confident and engaging. His mum has seen him develop and has been able to focus on her situation and we have helped her secure a sustainable job and their relationship and quality of life are greatly improved.