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Last week the VVU visited Kids Inspire, a well known and loved children and young person’s charity based in Essex.

Kids Inspire provide mental health and trauma recovery support for children, young people and their families through therapeutic activities. The VVU is supporting Kids Inspire to fund work with young people who may be at risk of joining a gang due to their exposure to violence in the home. This project is called Healing Connections – healing the connections that have ruptured, looking at which therapeutic intervention is best for the individual.

Kids Inspire have a large therapeutic team of over 65 therapists including contracted therapists. The staff all have specialist training and are trauma informed – which means looking at the background of the child, what might have happened to cause certain behaviours. Once the background behind the behaviour is understood the relevant support can be put in place without the risk of too much, too fast and too soon.

Healing Hands

The VVU funded project looks at attachment and how needs are met, so can a young person’s needs be met in a different way?  For example, you don’t need to be in a gang for a sense of belonging, this need can be met in other ways. If this need currently isn’t being met, then how can this be rectified in a healthy way?

Kids Inspire offer 20 sessions and work with the whole family. Healing Connections works with males and females although currently works with more males. While the child is at the centre of the therapy, Kids Inspire found the best outcomes are achieved if those around the child are included in the support. This helps families reconnect and build positive relationships whereby every individual can express their needs and feelings in a healthy way.

Young people on the Healing Connections project are taught how the brain works, self-regulation and what healthy relationships look like. Therapists often use a trauma informed art approach. Using toys, sand, music, play etc to express what has happened – a non-verbal way of communicating trauma.

On our visit we looked around the charity and saw many, varied resources available for the young people to use – sand pits with toys, a piano, a dolls house and small people toys, and lots of arts and crafts material. Some rooms were bright and colourful with a couple of smaller rooms with comfy sofas, cushions and space to relax and open up.

The VVU funded project also looks at adolescent and parent violence, how to manage violence and anger and, if appropriate, support the parent around boundaries and consistency. The project has been supporting up to 21 individuals per quarter. The majority are self-referrals with the rest coming from social care, health and education.

What does success look like?

The project measures success by an outcomes star, looking at things like

  • Whether relationships in the family have improved
  • Whether school attendance or education access improved
  • More positive relationships formed
  • Improved self-esteem and self-worth

Young people leave Kids Inspire feeling more confident to manage friendship issues, being able to make sense of their feelings, having learnt to manage stress and feel that family relationships have improved. Their families feel they can respond better to their children’s emotional needs, they can use boundaries to manage behaviour and they are more confident supporting their children while managing their own wellbeing.

We really loved seeing the project and hearing about all the families being supported across the county. We know Kids Inspire has great ideas and aspirations for the future and we wish them every success.