A Support Coordinator reflects on developing a relationship with someone they work with.
When I started working with Thom, he felt let down by statutory services and he did not have trusting relationships in his personal life. He often shouted at services over the phone, causing them to stop providing support. Thom felt that services used his anger as an excuse to disengage from him which reiterated his feelings of not being cared for.
Due to interruptions in Thom’s education, Thom has some literacy issues, which also made it difficult to engage with services which communicate via email, post, or text. When I started working with Thom, he came across as deeply mistrustful. His mindset was, “nobody is going to mess with me.” However, over time, I have observed a gradual evolution in Thom’s interactions with me and others.
‘I think listening to Thom and understanding where his anger stems from has contributed to this change.’
I think listening to Thom and understanding where his anger stems from has contributed to this change. Thom and I had a phone conversation which he ended in a state of distress. I asked the police to complete a wellbeing check. Thom appreciated that I had followed up and he understood why I had been concerned. I think this demonstrated to Thom that I had heard him, I took him seriously and I cared about him. This experience seemed to cement our relationship.
Listening has also been important when adapting to Thom’s literacy needs which I approach by making suggestions which are always up for discussion. For example, because receiving text messages can be stressful for Thom, we speak on the phone, meet face-to-face, and we have also created a plan using visuals.
‘Our relationship feels more relaxed.’
Following through consistently has also been important. For example, we spoke about what it would mean to Thom to take a break away, and we worked together to plan and book this. Acknowledging and moving on from mistakes has also developed the trust in our relationship. If I make a mistake in something that I say, I apologise and I model that it is okay to make mistakes. It has made the relationship feel less fragile. We both know we can get things wrong, and this is okay because we can also repair the relationship and move forward.
I have noticed that Thom is starting to express gratitude for the work we are doing together. Our relationship feels more relaxed, and I have noticed that he is more open to recognising people’s good intentions and repairing situations outwith Future Pathways. For example, Thom recently started working with an external service. Initially, he felt angry about a miscommunication. However, he then acknowledged the misunderstanding and the good intentions of the service involved and continued to engage with them. Similarly, when Thom went on his break away, a conflict arose with a service provider. Initially, this caused Thom some distress, but he was able to resolve this and move forward with his holiday.
‘It feels like green shoots are starting to appear.’
I think of the relationship between Thom, myself, and Future Pathways as a safe space within which Thom can explore how to develop and maintain trusting relationships. My hope is that this will enable him to negotiate himself around his world without as much defensiveness. While it is early days, it feels like green shoots are starting to appear.