AN one-to-one support service to help vulnerable young people called CY4You is being officially launched today (Friday 30 May – 1pm) by the specialist relationships and sexual health charity, Caledonia Youth, with the help of two young women who have benefitted from its services over the past few years.
Kezia Dugdale MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, will also join the Caledonia Youth team for the CY4You launch, which will take place within its city centre facility at 5 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh.
Representatives from education, social workers, the voluntary sector and funders, will hear from Rachael (18) and Stacey (24) about their experiences and how they were supported by the Caledonia Youth one to one service.
Rachael had suffered from serious confidence issues at a transitional stage leading up to her leaving school and moving into employment, and Stacey had experienced relationship difficulties, stemming from a brain tumour when she was just five. The service helped them cope with these problems.
“We are delighted that Rachael and Stacey are sharing their own stories to help us launch our innovative CY4You initiative, along with Kezia Dugdale MSP who has been most supportive of our services,” said Caledonia Youth chief executive, (Mrs) Hawys Kilday.
“CY4You is a fundamental part of our overall strategy to ramp up the provision of preventative services in Scotland.
“It builds upon years of experience delivering specialist one to one support and counselling services, which have benefited hundreds of vulnerable young people. It supports them by providing sessions tailored to suit each individual’s personal circumstances.
“We focus on a young person’s ability to cope with the transition into adulthood, aiming to improve resilience, reduce risk taking behaviour and enhance personal and family relationships. We also support those at risk of sexual ill health, sexual abuse and exploitation.
“We are most grateful to our funding partners, the R S Macdonald Charitable Trust, the Volant Charitable Trust and Ponton House Trust, whose support lets us deliver CY4You in the Edinburgh and Lothian region.
“Moving forward, we will be actively seeking further backing to help us extend as a centre of excellence and widen the reach of this unique service across Scotland.”
Commenting on the launch, Kezia Dugdale MSP, said: “Caledonia Youth has a strong track record in being dedicated advocates for young people, and I am delighted to see this innovative one-to-one service launch today.
“Caledonia Youth excels at providing specific sexual health services for young people, something which I firmly believe should be supported. Young people need dedicated services, with people trained to deal with the needs of a young person, be it medical or emotional.”
The CY4You service, which complements statutory Relationships, Sexual Health & Parenthood Education (RSHPE) by providing much needed and more intensive individual support, begins with the preparation of an individualised plan and bespoke materials following a discussion based needs assessment, when learning outcomes are also agreed.
Young people are given the opportunity to attend up to ten, one-hour sessions with an assigned member of the CY4You team.
Information is only shared with the young person’s consent unless it is deemed a Child Protection or Vulnerable Adult issue when the relevant individuals are informed.
Young people must be under 25 and, at present, resident in Edinburgh and the Lothians when CY4You sessions begin. One hour sessions are delivered at Caledonia Youth’s Edinburgh facility at 5 Castle Terrace, unless otherwise agreed.
More information on how to refer to the service is available by contacting the CY4You team on 0131 229 1402 or email: email@example.com, or online at www.caledoniayouth.org.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Profiles on Stacey, Rachael and more information on Caledonia Youth
Stacey’s Story – Stacey (24) from Livingston, was referred to Caledonia Youth in 2012 by her mum who first heard about the specialist relationships and sexual health service for young people from the Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT). Stacey had suffered a brain tumour when she was just five, leading to underactive thyroids, balance issues and memory problems, which resulted in learning difficulties. On constant medication with regular monitoring, she is now being treated for tinnitus and hearing loss but making the most of life.
“I was operated on when they discovered the brain tumour and given radiation therapy over Christmas and, although successful at the time, mum and dad were told that I’d possibly not live a year,” said Stacey. “It will be 19 years this September!
“The aftermath of the brain tumour affects me in different ways. I don’t know if I’m saying things that can be offensive to some people. A lot of the time I’ll warn people that I don’t know how to say something. One of my friends who has cerebral palsy just says to me ‘out with it woman’! She doesn’t care if I’m offensive, as she’s comfortable with it. That’s so good, as I don’t mean to offend.
“It sometimes takes me a while to understand things and although I was more mature than others in my class at high school, I didn’t really want to listen to lessons on body parts and the rest!
“As I got older, mum said I might want a kiss or cuddle or know a bit more about what happens between a man and woman. So she went to the Child Brain Injury Trust who put us in contact with Caledonia Youth. Mum didn’t want to be the one to have this kind of conversation with me! My female support worker was very kind and took me to Caledonia Youth.”
Stacey’s visits to see Mary at Caledonia Youth’s Edinburgh city centre facility at 5 Castle Terrace were predominantly to cover relationships and, in particular, intimate ones. She attended seven one-hour sessions from July until December 2012 and was accompanied from her home in West Lothian by her support worker from Places for People Scotland Care and Support. She evaluated all the sessions extremely well.
“My first visit was one of those days when I was feeling really down, which can happen,” said Stacey. “I talked with Mary and watched a video but she really let me do what I wanted to do. I was also given a book to read. I definitely felt comfortable about the whole experience.
“On one of my visits I was given a shot of a baby simulator, which I found really comforting. I just sat and rocked it quietly or bounced it gently on the spot. When I let my support worker see the baby, she nearly had heart attack because it is so lifelike.
“I was seriously embarrassed though when we talked about the penis and testicles. In fact, it was one of the most difficult things we covered but because it was just me and Mary, I was far more comfortable than I would have been in a group. Mary really put me at ease. Then we looked at condoms and saw how you used them. That was definitely interesting! Mary gave me condoms just in case I needed them but they are still hiding in my sock drawer and haven’t been opened.
“At the time of my visits I had a boyfriend but I was so sick of him. He spent all his money on computer games, slept all day and didn’t reply to my texts. He even made me pay for our Valentine’s meal!
I always said to Mary that I didn’t think it was a good idea to stay with him. We were able to talk about my feelings I questioned the relationship and asked myself, did I really want to continue with this guy?
I broke up with my boyfriend last year. It was a hard choice to end it but I know it was the right one for me!
“Since then, I’ve really liked another lad but he had been sexually active since he was 12 and I didn’t really want to be with him in that way. I can have mixed feelings about sex.
Although I see friends and my family in relationships, which sometimes makes me feel a bit jealous, I know it is not the right time for me – yet.
“I really enjoyed my time with Mary and learned so much from each session. It wasn’t like you’re made to sit at a desk in school with loads of others to be told ‘this is what you are going to learn today, so watch this video or listen to this demonstration’.
Instead, at the end of each session Mary would ask what I’d like to cover on my next visit. There was no pressure. It was done at my pace and at a more basic level – she gave me the time I needed to take everything in.”
Looking ahead, Stacey’s great passion for life sees her writing stories and reading. She is an avid follower of the fanfiction website, which gives her great inspiration.
“As well as writing, I’m hoping to get back into education this year to learn British Sign Language at West Lothian College,” said Stacey. “I’m just waiting to hear.
“Also, if there was a public speaking role out there, I’d love to do that, although mum says I have to be careful.
“One of these days I might just say something that gets me into trouble!”
Rachael’s Story – Rachael from Edinburgh first came to Caledonia Youth in 2011. She was just 15, beginning her fourth year at High School but her serious lack of confidence and worries about exams were giving her and her mum cause for concern.
“Some of my problems were to do with my relationships with friends,” said Rachael. “I was also extremely shy, lacked confidence and was struggling to cope with class work in school. It was a vicious circle, the more I worried about school, the more I struggled to cope with day to day things.
“It started when I was at primary school. I struggled to speak out in class, and hated attention. I saw a speech and language therapist when I was in third year who told me I had a mild case of selective mutism* caused by my lack of confidence.
“I wasn’t happy to say the least during school and felt I was getting nowhere. Yet the thought of exams then leaving school and getting a job was so daunting.”
Rachael talked about her worries with her mum, who then approached her guidance teacher at school.
Caledonia Youth was well known to the school having provided group education there for a number of years, as well as one to one support.
The guidance teacher put her in touch with Donna at Caledonia Youth to set up some one to one support sessions at school, which continued when she left school aged 16 at its Castle Terrace facility in Edinburgh city centre.
Donna worked week to week around the issues that Rachael faced during this transitional period.
They focused on relationships, dealt with difficult situations and gave her coping mechanisms that would help her face up to the challenges of everyday life. Now 18, Rachael is a new person with renewed confidence.
“I saw Donna throughout the school year,” said Rachael. “She has helped me a lot and continues to do so today as I’ve had ongoing support since I’ve left school. I just make an appointment when I feel I need to. It’s good to have Donna to chat to about things. I’ve learnt that it’s so important to talk.
“My biggest worry back then was that my problems would continue after school as my support systems were being left behind. I didn’t know how I was going to get on. Donna showed me how to cope.
“We discussed ways that could help me interact far better with people. She even helped me with job interviews.”
When Rachael left school at the end of fourth year, with the help of Donna she pushed herself to take on an apprenticeship as a hairdresser.
She knew it would be challenging, but wanted something where she would have to talk with people. While it proved hard and she felt uncomfortable all of the time, looking back she can see that it really helped.
These days you can find Rachael working at a local retail outlet. Having completed a retail apprenticeship with the retail giant, she was kept on at the end. Now she is involved in so many aspects of the retail world, welcoming customers, working in the fitting rooms and operating the tills.
“I’ve made more friends at where I am working and not just because we are working together. I find we have the same sort of interests. I’m a lot more confident now and able to deal with situations, even difficult ones that previously would make me freeze. It has helped me feel so much happier with myself and quite simply, it’s let me get on with my life. Thanks Donna, and thanks Caledonia Youth!”
* Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech does not speak in specific situations or to specific people, eg a child at school. Selective mutism usually co-exists with shyness or social anxiety. Children with selective mutism stay silent even when the consequences of their silence include shame, social ostracism or even punishment.
More about Caledonia Youth
Caledonia Youth has extensive experience of supporting young people with learning disabilities, those excluded from mainstream school, those in care or leaving the care system, young people in custody and those at risk of offending, young people whose lives are impacted by substance or alcohol misuse, those living in chaotic circumstances and those with emotional and behavioural issues.
The team deliver work in a wide variety of settings ranging from schools to prisons. Using factual age and stage appropriate information, sessions cover risk taking, emotional issues, self esteem, negotiation skills, sexual wellbeing, bullying, alcohol and drug use, and internet safety, to help young people make more positive lifestyle choices.
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