The following good news story illustrates the benefits of our specialist prison case managers who understand the struggle and communication limits of neurodiverse individuals, and how to extract an awareness of strengths from those who believe they are worthless.  In our wonderful Case Manager, Sarah Young’s own words:

NOMS CFO3: HMP Portland

November 2015

Good news!  Mr M.

Mr M is 20 years old. He was in care for most of his childhood and experienced  a lot of trauma in his life. Amongst other things he has social conduct disorder and bi-polar. His needs are complex.

Mr M was directly referred to the project by the head of Re-offending (Jo Davies) approx 3 months ago. This young man was refusing to engage with anyone or anything and was running through cycles of aggression and self-harm. His name was repeatedly on the complex needs list.

My first meeting with Mr M was speaking with him through a closed cell door. He was clearly angry and untrusting. “Why should I listen to you?” was one of the repeated phrases he shouted through the door whilst scratching his finger nails down the inside. I explained that we were here to talk with him and to listen to him. He did not want to engage. I said I would come back in a few days…

The next couple of times I went to see Mr M he was happy to speak with me outside his cell. He was still very angry and voiced his concerns and frustrations about what was happening to him and how he felt he was being treated. I listened.

After Mr M had stopped talking there was a short silence. I asked Mr M what he was good at and what he liked doing that made him feel better. He likes music; reading; poetry. He loves his son and wants to look after his family.

Mr M then hit a particularly bad stage where he was moved to CCU for his own and others safety.

I tried to see Mr M several times but unfortunately it was not deemed safe to do so.

I continued to communicate with other members of staff about Mr M.

I sat in on his review meeting in CCU with several other members of staff. Mr M became very angry in this situation and stated he did not wish to engage with anyone at all. He eventually had to be removed.  The prison staff deployed a lot of resources over the following weeks to try and help Mr M get back onto an even keel and calm enough to leave CCU and move back onto another wing.

Although initially wary, Mr M began to engage in conversation with me again. He told me about his brothers and how musical they are. He told me about a video they had made and some beats they had written.

We went on and discussed particular things that are important to him and specific words he associates with his values. We explored these words and wrote them down.   I asked Mr M if he would take these words away and put them to some beats. I received a nod and a handshake.

I asked Mr M if he would be happy to fill in some of our forms so we could officially sign him up to the project. He said he would sign one form but wanted to do it himself. This was the enrolment form. Unfortunately Mr M was unaware of the clarity required on the form so I said we’d have to do it again. He didn’t want to.

A couple of days later I went back on wing to see another referral. Mr M saw me and came over with a big smile asking if we could fill that form in? We did.  We continued to have a good session using the Justice Outcomes star and discussing his progress. It was not appropriate to complete the full assessment at this stage (nor at any point up until this); I knew it would disengage our rapport.

This week I can confirm that Mr M has now managed two full weeks back on the wing and working.  He has also completed the full enrolment paperwork and is fully engaged in the NOMS CFO3 programme.

With Mr M’s blessing and engagement, we are planning to start a rapping group at HMP Portland and the prison staff are delighted, offering support of equipment and instruments.

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