WE HAVE PROVIDED CASE STUDIES BELOW TO SHOW THE SHEER IMPORTANCE OF CELLS AND HOW OUR MANY VOLUNTEERS AND WORKERS CONTRIBUTE TO MAKE IT THE STRONG PROJECT THAT IT IS TODAY.
Evaluations of cells work
- Case study S 2023
S is a young man who originally attended school but encountered some issues, leading to him discontinuing his attendance. He briefly switched to another school, but after a week, he also stopped attending school and remained out of school for 18 months.
S was referred to CELLS by his family’s supportworker.
The referral for S. indicated that he was involved in destructive behavior at home, using marijuana, getting into community-related troubles, vandalizing his neighbor’s car by slashing its tires, and demonstrating a lack of engagement with others.
S.’s family had been receiving support from early help family services.
Since S. was not attending school, we conducted home visits for our appointments. S. struggled to get out of bed for these appointments, but once he was up, he actively engaged in the sessions.
During our interactions, we would sometimes sit in the living room with his mother to talk. However, due to the busy household environment, we often went for walks or drove around the local area to have our discussions.
S received regular mentoring sessions from CELLS, covering a wide range of topics related to crime and behavior awareness. Throughout our mentoring sessions, we placed significant emphasis on addressing issues such as anti-social behavior, decision-making, and the importance of education, as these appeared to be key areas where S. needed support.
S mentioned multiple times during our mentoring sessions that he was hesitant to take his ADHD medication and preferred to “self-medicate” with cannabis. We had extensive discussions about the long-term effects of cannabis use and its impact on mental health.
As a result of the progress made, S. has resumed attending full-time education at school, and there has been a noticeable improvement in his behavior and decision-making. Although he continues to use cannabis for “self-medication,” his overall attitude has improved significantly.
Due to the positive developments, the family support worker has closed the family’s case.
It is worth noting that while S. has made substantial progress during his time with CELLS mentoring, there remains an area of concern related to his “self-medicating” with cannabis to manage his ADHD symptoms. This is an area where I lack expertise, and therefore, S. is continuing to receive mentoring from CELLS, this time from a mentor with experience in addressing drug-related issues. The goal is to have discussions about the risks associated with drug use and substance misuse, encourage S. to reduce and eventually cease his cannabis use, and provide ongoing support to help him maintain full-time education and positive behavior at home.
- Case study L 2023
- Case study B 2023
I have been meeting with B since he was in year 9. Our sessions was at his place of education, however due to being removed from mainstream he was sent to a PRU, whilst there we did workshops that focus on the negatives of crime and the emotional stress it adds to the family. B has a dad that is devoted to him and wants him to do well in life. Unfortunately, B surrounds himself with negative influences and that causes him to get into petty disputes. He has been found on several occasions to be in position of a knife around his local area. He said this was for protection.
We did extensive work on knife crime and looked at the guidelines around sentencing. After this B stopped hanging around in his area and spent his time in lancs. This started off positive, B completed a period where he was not getting into trouble this lasted around 8 months, a huge part was he had a girlfriend from a different area who he spent most of his time with. Due to B positive progress, we spoke about various options for education and training. We attended a meeting at school, and he was told if he carries on with the good progress, he could potently be offering a mainstream school place.
Unfortunately, the relationship ended with his partner and B started to get into trouble around lancashire, the same petty arguments he had around his area had now started to happen in lancs. We continued our work and did various sessions around exploitation and county lines. B behaviour stared to get worse, he was then found in lancashire with a machete and on another occasion, he had 4 knifes all were confiscated and handed to police. This was a shame because B had been showing positive sings of change.
All work done with has been impactful however he is not ready to make the change away from the lifestyle he enjoys. B has the potential to be a highly successful individual and should he be ready to change I would be more then happy to work with him to help him into training/employment. Due to positive progress we spoke about various options.
- Case study M 2023
I started working with M during the autumn school term 2022, the referral came from his school. There was concern that M would be removed from school due to poor behaviour.
On our first meeting we really got on well. He was a very polite young lad and was open and honest about stuff that gets him into trouble. he told me he hangs around with older people and some of them sell cannabis. He was honest and said that many people doit in his area it becomes normalised. We started our sessions looking at the negatives and consequences involved with drug dealing. The first half of the sessions focused on changing his opinions about drugs especially cannabis.
M made good progress during the meets. He attended a UFC fight event and after that he stared going to the gym to practice MMA himself. During our sessions he disclosed to me that he no longer is involved with drugs, and he has now seen a different side to the lifestyle. He told me its not worth the risks he is putting his family at if he is involved in that lifestyle. This was a huge turn around.
M now focuses on his MMA training and has taken part in some amateur fights. He successfully completed his academic years and sat his GCSE exams. M has made brilliant progress since we first met. He is no longer involved with ASB and hopes to get a full-time job around his training.
- Case study K 2021
I started working with K in March 2020 after receiving a referral due to his arrest for possession with intent to supply class A drugs. At the time of his offense, K was 16 years old, and there were suspicions of his involvement with county lines and exploitation by older individuals to distribute drugs. During the initial four weeks, our sessions focused on building a rapport and understanding K’s interests. Right from the start, he actively engaged and showed respect.
While getting to know K, I sensed that he found the lifestyle of a drug dealer attractive and didn’t fully comprehend the consequences of drug sales or their devastating impact on a community. I organized various workshops that highlighted the dangers of drugs, their effects on the body, sentencing guidelines for possession with intent to supply for both juveniles and adults, the reality of prison and its impact on families, and the benefits of gaining employment.
Initially, K was living with his mother and had a strong family relationship. However, this changed as his involvement in crime and drinking increased. He became a source of trouble at home and eventually moved in with a friend. During this period, K became difficult to contact, often missing our meetings, and sometimes meeting me while still intoxicated from the night before. During his challenging times, I provided support and guidance.
K frequently inquired about how I had broken away from crime and negative influences. After the first six months of our sessions and completing various workshops, he began to reconsider a criminal lifestyle and sought advice on how to change his life. As his court date approached, K expressed his desire to transform his lifestyle and find employment. Once he stopped drinking, he focused on rebuilding his family relationships and was eventually allowed to return home. As he distanced himself from negative influences, we shifted our workshops towards employment and training opportunities, exploring various courses and options.
By the time K had to go to court, he was employed full-time, had mended his family ties, and cut ties with negative influences. All charges against him were dropped on the grounds of child exploitation, with the court recognizing K as a victim. Upon receiving this positive news, K was in a good place and remains so. He is currently in a stable relationship with a baby on the way, working part-time, and expressing interest in a career involving helping children with autism, aiming for a role where he can make a positive impact on others.
In the 12 months I worked with K, he has matured into a responsible young man who aspires to positively influence those around him. He has distanced himself from criminal activities and aspires to succeed in his work. K now collaborates with CELLS, using his own experiences to assist other young people in avoiding the mistakes and exploitation he endured.
- Case study E 2021
- Case study B 23/3/2
INTRODUCTION & REFERRAL
B was referred to us by Youth Justice Services, being described as one of their highest risk young people and someone who was not engaging with any services. It was markedly clear from reading the referral that B, at the age of 16, was already heavily involved in criminality and was in an extremely dangerous and vulnerable position. B was at risk of custody if he continued to offend and not comply with the community orders he was placed on.
B was living in a care home out of his local area and was very well known by the police and many other services. He had been under YJS since early teens, displaying offending behaviours such as burglary, car crime, criminal damage, possession of offensive weapons and bladed articles etc. B had been arrested carrying weapons (hammers, knives, hatchets) on several occasions – B had also made disclosures to care staff regarding carrying and using weapons as everyday life. B also disclosed that he smoked cannabis daily (up to £60 per day), but there was concern that he was potentially taking other substances also. There were significant concerns regarding B drug dealing, not only in the local community but also involvement in county lines gangs. At the beginning of 2019, B had handed himself into a police station, over 200 miles away from where he lived and said that he had been kidnapped and had been held against his will. The Police already had intelligence at that time, linking B to county lines in other areas such as Wales selling drugs.
An initial meeting took place at B’s care home placement. On arrival, staff at the residence said that we would be lucky to get him to come down from his room and they would be very surprised if he was to speak to us and engage with the service as he didn’t engage with any other services. To everyone’s surprise however B came down to talk to us. B seemed very sceptical about our service and sat with his hood up, little to no eye contact and did not talk with any confidence and appeared tired, withdrawn and had dirty ripped clothing on. I began by explaining the service to him and my personal background that led me to be a Mentor with CELLS. This initial meeting lasted around an hour and when I asked if he would be interested in engaging with me and the service he said yes. The care staff in the house commented as I was leaving that they were all shocked that he engaged with us for that length of time and that he had agreed to meet again.
Over the first few meetings I slowly built up a trusting relationship with B and we talked more and more about situations that B had experienced and discussed how he really felt about them. He began to speak more openly and honestly during each session, giving B a safe space to talk about anything that he wanted.
B was then presented with an opportunity to start an apprenticeship with National Rail, but he would have to supply a clean drug test. This was a barrier to B’s progression as even though he had now stopped supplying drugs and had removed himself from that world, he still smoked a significant amount of cannabis. We discussed why he smoked cannabis and what he got out of it. We talked about the positive and negative aspects of cannabis and through our conversations, B himself said that he felt it did not serve him anymore to smoke it and he wanted to stop. Again, within a short period of time, B applied these changes to his life and has now tested clear for all illegal substances. This has meant that he was able to start his apprenticeship. He is currently too young to start the railway course, so is on a building placement until his 18th birthday.
I feel that this is a pivotal time for B. He is at a point where support to keep him on track needs to be given. Despite the unbelievable transformation that B has accomplished. There is still a big level of uncertainty looming over him regarding an old charge. So, I believe that moving forward we will begin to continue to offer B support but with increasingly bigger gaps between meetings.
- Case study N
N’s parents explained that their son didn’t want for anything. Still, he went missing for extended periods, with no contact and then showing up with unaccounted money, clothes, and items with no explanation. I met their son, who was very tall and looked much older than he was. I explained who I was and what the service did and what support we could offer. I then explained my experience and background, which he seemed very interested in, and he seemed to relate to aspects of my experience. He began to talk about criminal knowledge that he had and seemed to glorify the idea of being involved in criminal activity. He seemed very clued up about certain aspects of a criminal enterprise’s inner working and criminal life. Still, He was very naïve when it came to the actual reality of the impact of those consequences of this life. He also was very naïve to his “friends’/associates’” loyalties and potential motivations. It was clear that he had a street ego (mask) that he felt was very important to keep up as protection.
Over the first few meetings, I slowly built up a trusting relationship with the mentee, and we talked more and more about situations that he had experienced and discussed how he felt about them. He expressed that he takes several different drugs and continuously attempted to glamorize the criminal activity he was involved in and expressed that he saw a life career in it. He seemed in denial of actually how he felt about the potentially dangerous situations he had found himself wrapped up in, choosing to brush off the experiences and talk from a macho front to show how unaffected he was and to convince himself that he was in control and how he found the experiences funny. It was vital for me to get him to drop this mask; otherwise, I believed that no real progression could be made.
After several weeks, I felt that I had built up enough of a trusting relationship to challenge his mentality seriously and ego effectively and take it on board and not get defensive. The mentee reacted very well to this, and he began to speak more openly and honestly each session, feeling that it was a safe place to drop his mask.
We talked about aspirations and what type of future he would like to have. We talked about relationships and what he viewed as healthy and unhealthy ones. While discussing all of these subjects, we applied them to his current and past situations and how he would like future ones to be different and what control he had over these outcomes. The process was to get him to understand the impact of his past choices and actions, and that he had the power to make different choices and walk a different path.
Through our discussion, he realized that the criminal life that he had been living and aspiring to have, was not all that he thought it was. He talked about the positives that he perceived not being all they seemed. The money that he aspired to have was not there, and he said that people he knew that had been in the game for a long time were not wealthy and able to spend it without raising suspicion from the police and going to prison. His so-called friends had shown times of no loyalty and had even betrayed him to protect themselves. He was able to see that he had been getting used by others and put into vulnerable situations that impacted him and his family life. He even explored how friends that he knew from school, who chose not to get involved in crime and instead got educated and employment, were earning more than him, driving their cars, going on holidays, and were living better than he was. The penny felt like it was beginning to drop.
In-between our sessions, I received a phone call from his mum to inform me that her son had been arrested and interviewed on suspicion of attempted murder and conspiracy to supply class A drugs. This was from an investigation in North Wales where a male was stabbed in a flat that connected with a county lines drug gang. The incident had occurred months before we had begun our mentoring relationship.
This was a severe allegation brought against the mentee with the potential consequences of a prison life sentence.
He said that he didn’t want to be involved with crime whatsoever and wanted to live everyday life. Within a couple of weeks, he had successfully gained employment in a distribution warehouse on minimum wage and was very pleased with himself. He said that he had stopped going out at night with his “associates” and started to stay in to get a good night’s sleep for work the next day. He said that he was feeling much better than he had for years but still felt like he was in limbo, waiting for the investigation results. Finally, after months of waiting, he was informed that he was cleared of all charges, and there would be no further action taken against him.
The mentee is no longer involved in criminal activity.
I feel that N is a mentee who has displayed a significant positive shift in his attitude and now understands the gravity of the repercussions of his choices and actions. We will leave the door open for him if he feels that he would benefit from our support in the future, but for now, we think this mentee is on the right track and has come such a long way from where he was at the beginning of our work with him.
— S, Volunteer, presenter and motivation for othe
S was introduced to CELLS in October 2013 by the Salford Foundation. This in turn was through our work with Achieve/Connexions. He appeared to be a bright young lad who genuinely regretted his mistake of getting in trouble, this was whilst working as a doorman, a life that he had now shunned and was now looking to get involved in youth work. It was encouraging to see S had enrolled on a youth work course at College as part of this objective and was seeking part time work in order to support this learning. He agreed that he could come in every Friday to volunteer for CELLS and has never let us down with this commitment yet, although he had restrictions because of all this activity he tried to get involved in as many courses as possible. Initially, he worked with Julie on his Personal Development Plan from which we understood the need to update his CV, whilst doing this we registered S for some online courses including common core skills & knowledge and personal safety for lone workers. These courses were relevant to his career objectives in youth work and also flexible with his heavy time schedule. We firstly invited S to observe our presentations which gave him an insight into our work and approach. On his volunteering days he was given tasks such as office and admin duties to get him involved in a working environment. He then constructed his own workshop on his individual story and delivered it at a High school. It was from this event that S showed his power of engagement with youngsters. He has delivered many more group sessions and one to one sessions since.
S continued to work on a Friday and developed sessions with youngsters from Centre 63 groups that were NEET (not in education, employment or training). This work over spilled into a group that Centre 63 (where CELLS is based) are working with and the centre asked Sam to work with them every Friday. This arrangement was conducted in the correct manner and CELLS approved this to further develop S PDP objectives. He recruited the group to attend a CELLS First Aid course and mentored them through this course. It was from this arrangement that S was alerted to a position becoming available at the centre for a youth worker. We helped him with this application and interview technique and approach. S was successful in securing the post and it was great testimony to him that he did. S has recently taken on and developed other workshops including joint enterprise and always helps others with their work and workshops. He has just facilitated a whole event at a local primary school which was a major success mostly due to S professionalism and that of his colleagues. S has just been awarded a national award for Young Person of the Year which is testament to his hard work and character
— R story
R is currently servicing a sentence for firearms.
My name is R and I am a prisoner from HMP Kennet. I approached the outreach team in prison stating my desire to do some form of youth work training/volunteering as part of my stage one voluntary work. As a result of this I was placed with CELLS who I now work with. In the beginning I felt very awkward as I have never worked in this kind of setting and felt very nervous and out of place. I thought people would judge me on my criminal past and for being a prisoner. I was under the impression I wouldn’t fit in and would constantly be judged.
It is now May 2014 and I have been working with CELLS for almost 5 months and all my initial fears and bad feelings towards how I would be accepted and fit in have gone. My confidence has grown a lot due to the help and support I have received from the staff at CELLS. I have completed many online courses and have also completed an Asdan course on peer mentoring and helped develop lots of other aspects within the office environment such as evaluations and workshops. I have worked in teams as well as on my own and now feel comfortable in both roles. Since working with CELLS I have gained several contacts with local schools and have also attended several meetings with the CELLS staff regarding presentations in the local schools. This has enabled me to give valued input as the business I am working for need these contacts to organise presentation days to deliver our many workshops. We have created and made a static prison cell within our office so we can do presentation and educational days from our office which has had enormous amounts of positive feedback and is a vital tool to our team. The role I have taken within CELLS can mean a lot of office based work which has helped educate me with IT and office skills such as sending e-mails and completing evaluations on our work as well as reports. I also help with the day to day paperwork such as the volunteers’ activity sheets and PDPs. I have worked on and helped develop a PowerPoint presentation as well as a prison experience workshop that I deliver with the youths at the centre as well as on presentation days at various destinations such as schools and college
Shaun's comment (Developer Manager and Founder of CELLS)
R is testimony to the CELLS ethos that negative pasts can inspire positive futures, his hard work and endeavour is starting to show him that he is now taking steps towards his ultimate aim of working in the youth sector. He has completed a lot of fundamental training and qualifications in order to continue his development and we hope to aid him and continue this. We eventually hope that he will gain employment in doing what he seems to be good at, which is not just educating youngsters about the consequences of crime but also working with youths as a mentor and an inspirational role model.