First of its Kind Children and Young People’s Therapeutic Service is Launched

22nd June 2023
Cormac and Melanie who has benefitted from the Young People’s Therapeutic Service

“The future looks bright and positive, for a while there, it didn’t.”  These are the thoughts of mum Melanie who has now been able to access a new innovative therapeutic service for children and young people, which has been launched for the first time in Northern Ireland by the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.

Aimed at keeping families and children together in their own homes when difficulties arise, the ‘Children and Young People’s Therapeutic Service’ is a pilot scheme that works closely with families and children aged 12-17, who are involved in Children’s Social Work across the Trust.

Working alongside the Children’s Social Work Team, the service is delivered under one roof by a team of staff, including a Clinical Psychologist, Family Therapist, Youth Worker and two Family Support Workers. It is the first time that these staff have been brought together as one team to support children and their families and to help improve and strengthen relationships both inside and outside the family, whilst keeping children at home. The service offers a team approach, wrapping around the family at a time of need.

Melanie who has benefitted from the service with her son Cormac explained, “I have found this service to be really helpful.  I love that it is amalgamated with different professionals.  Cormac, myself and my other children have had difficulties for a few years and it has been difficult sourcing support. This service has been fantastic, you have different people that you need support from as a family when things break down. The team is all under one roof and part of one service, rather than the family being referred to several places!”

Cormac said, “I feel the service has helped me a lot and it is good to be able to discuss issues with everyone in one team. I felt listened to. I’m back on my feet now and I got a job a month ago. I would like to thank everyone in the team for their support.”

Senior Manager for Safeguarding Children, Lisa Benstead added, “This is an exciting development in Children’s Services, offering families a new way of engaging in support when they need it most. As an organisation, we continually look at ways to improve how we shape and deliver our care. This new service will work with children, young people and their families who are in need of additional support to continue living safely together. We firmly believe that in most cases, children and young people are best cared for within their own family.”

Highlighting the difference the service makes, Systemic Family Therapist, Karen Bowd stated, “When things are going not so well for families, it impacts everyone.  It is important that every family member understands each other, as we think about things in different ways. Family members can come within Family Therapy to talk about issues and listen to each other in a safe space.”

Explaining the role of youth work within the new service, Magdalene Rowan Devenney said, “Our children are important. When they are facing a lot of issues at home, it is important we try to keep families together. Children need to feel safe in their home, secure in their family and in the local community, so services like the Children and Young People’s Therapeutic Service is really vital If we want to make a difference to the lives of young people.”

Magdalene and Cormac, on a bench, discuss the role of youth work within the new service