Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2019-20: A Senior Officer for the Croydon Youth Offending Service, Holly is granted a Commendation for the passion and all-round excellence she brings to her role, ensuring ‘Every Child Matters’ is a reality for the young people in her care.
Holly works as a Senior Officer for the Youth Offending Service as part of the Croydon Team. She receives a Commendation for her outstanding gifts, often while working with challenging cases where young people may have a range of issues and circumstances, and for ensuring the ‘Every Child Matters’ ethos is delivered with a level of care and consideration that goes ‘above and beyond’.
Holly’s original nomination was made by Dr Caroline Campbell, who works in the Paediatric HIV team at St. George’s Hospital in London. It details a single case as a strong illustration of the quality of Holly’s work:
“A few years ago, one of our very vulnerable patients became involved in the Youth Offending Team, having been charged with carrying a knife. This child had suffered a number of Adverse Childhood Events including the most severe domestic violence, parental addiction, homelessness, school exclusion, chronic ill health as well as having a moderate Learning Disability. He had had many years of involvement with his local social services team having had a number of Section 47 referrals [for children at risk or experiencing harm], but it was only when he was lucky enough to have Holly as his key worker that his life began to improve for him.
“Holly has gone above and beyond in her role, she has opened up appropriate educational opportunities for him and has been available for very regular supportive sessions. She was immediately sensitive to his special needs and altered her approach accordingly. She was instrumental in getting him a part-time job which he has managed to maintain despite our doubts about him being able to hold down a job. She has been excellent in terms of her communication with the medical team and she has been a helpful conduit between us and the local social services team when we have found communication difficult. Even when the case should have been officially closed, this young man has continued to benefit from Holly’s unwavering support.
Dr Campbell concludes with a powerful observation:
“I believe the outcome for this young man could have been very different were it not for Holly’s support and as a medical team we feel that she deserves recognition. It is people like Holly with their quiet persistence and support for their clients that can make the difference between life and death.”
Butler Trust Local Champion and Youth Offending Service Manager, Ray Maguire, who has managed Holly, says that she “is well-experienced” and believes that because she has previously worked “in the challenging environment of a prison, I feel many of her skills were learned here – particularly with patience and understanding. By virtue of her personality she promotes anti-discriminatory practice and observationally she forms strong rapports with her client group due to being non-judgmental, respectful and empathetic.”
Ray adds that Holly “is particularly astute when working with young people who have learning difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. She has educated herself enabling her to equip herself when dealing with these difficulties to address their offending as well as grasping their individual need. She is bespoke in her approach and thoughtful in her decision making. She is adaptive in her style and mindful of her presentation with the children and young people with whom she works with.”
He cites one of Holly’s young clients, a young man who called Holly his “number one” person. He adds that Holly is “an outstanding worker and team player. She has great integrity and a quiet confidence and is well respected by her colleagues and, most importantly ,the young people and families she works with to make a difference. And she looks for solutions outside the ‘box’. This is a very unique skill, one that not everyone masters. She forms trust with her young people without blurring boundaries despite her caseload being rather complex.”
Holly herself outlines her work, and adds some detail to the case for which she was nominated:
“This young person was particularly vulnerable as a result of his health, learning needs, as well as his family situation. As a result of this, therefore, I developed a tailored package so that the interventions were accessible and suited his needs. I supported him with accessing suitable education provisions following him struggling in a mainstream environment and provided him with a mentoring service to give him a positive male role model in his life and help him to build his confidence. Aside from the offending behaviour interventions which we completed, my role was very much a signposting and advocacy role to allow the young person to have a voice and to be able to access relevant services in the community that he had previously not been supported to engage with. I continue to support this particular young person, despite him completing his statutory Order over a year ago as he regularly attends the office to ask questions and keep me updated on his progress.”
She adds that “although my role is to supervise statutory Court Orders which includes completing specific interventions around offending behaviour, I find that more often than not, I am required to support young people and their families with their welfare needs. This can include support in relation access and engagement with social care services, health care services, mental health services, housing services and education to name a few. Supporting those I work with to access these services adds stability to some very chaotic households which in turn allows interventions to have a more positive impact and to help young people desist from offending. Through my different roles within the youth justice system, I have worked with a large number of young people as well as parents with a range of learning difficulties in addition to other welfare needs. Although statutory Court Orders are on paper predetermined and rigid, a part of my role which I very much enjoy is making Court Orders work to meet the needs of those that I work with.”
Holly concludes with some remarks about the importance of such work:
“Many of the young people that I work with have significant speech and language needs and as a result of this, lack confidence and self-esteem. It is so important that these young people have a voice and are heard. Although entering the youth justice system is deemed a negative experience, I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with these young people and meet with them on a regular basis; through doing this, I am able to build a relationship with them and give them the opportunity to use attending the Youth Offending Service as a positive and life-changing experience.”
With thanks to Croydon Youth Offending Service, and especially to initial nominator and St. George’s Hospital Paediatric HIV Team’s Dr Caroline Campbell, and to Butler Trust Local Champion and Youth Offending Service Manager Ray Maguire, for their contributions.