A new initiative
London based mental health organization, Find A Balance (FAB), has been commissioned by Haringey Council to provide support for parents of local children affected by or involved in crime in the area. The initiative, running until March 2020, aims to support 20 families through a bespoke 24 week plan, which offers therapy to the primary caregivers of 11 to 15 year olds across a range of issues, including habitual drug use, emotional triggers and understanding trauma.
Underlying the movement is the hope that a better supported group of parents and carers will lead to a more stable life away from crime for the borough’s teens. Following its success, FAB is aiming to roll the program out across other London boroughs.
Considering the rate of crime in the area, this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Rated as one of the eight worst affected areas for violent youth crime, Haringey Council is now prioritizing the issue of keeping teens safe – a concern that is pressing throughout London and the rest of the UK, most urgently when it comes to knife crime: recent figures show the number of under-16s that had been stabbed in England rose by 93% in the five years to 2018. In total, the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales last year was the highest since records began in 1946.
In his first speech on crime in April 2019, Home Secretary Sajid Javid spoke of the efforts his own parents took to keep him away from a life of crime and that he could have just as easily ended up in jail as the Cabinet, if it hadn’t been for the support he’d had from his family.
This follows the belief of FAB’s founder, Samantha Francis, who set up the organization after struggling to find the right support to deal with her own son’s mental health difficulties. Working within the welfare system she created FAB to help parents and caregivers to identify problem and negative emotional symptoms in their children, such as unexplained anger, withdrawal and violence towards others.
Samantha raised children in a similar area to Haringey and believes that families are more likely to respond to counsellors who are sensitive to and have experienced their cultural surroundings, as this is more likely to generate an authentic dialogue and open up progressive communication:
“There is a suspicion within the community and parents do not want to reach out to official authorities or organisations that they feel do not truly understand their mindset, for fear of retribution or that the issue will not be dealt with effectively.
In a circumstance where the child has been involved in serious crime, it is more than likely that the parent has lost hope, which is why there is distance between them. For the child, the streets and gangs then become their family. This is why it is important that people can be shown how lives can be transformed through these services.”
What are the services offered?
The program will offer each family unit an initial assessment, followed by a bespoke 24 week care plan. This can include Talking Therapy, offering advice and emotional and psychological support. Samantha Franciswill deliver the assessment herself and follow up any talking therapy with Serena Lyn – a Psycho Dynamic Therapist. The support will cover a range of issues as mentioned above.