Volunteer

Case Study B

Young Adult (Over 18)

The Core Member (CM) was referred to Circles by Glebe House Therapeutic Community Trust in Cambridgeshire; a specialist therapeutic residential placement for young men aged 15 – 21 with harmful sexual behaviour. The CM was due to complete his two year intervention at Glebe House in and was moving to independent living in a new area in the South West.

A couple years before, the CM pleaded guilty to 18 offences of downloading indecent images of children. He was made subject to a 3 year Youth Rehabilitation Order by the Court and required to reside at Glebe House for two years.

Prior to this, CM had been known to the Youth Offending Team (YOT), having come before the Court initially for offences of Assault and Criminal Damage. He was subsequently Found Guilty of Rape x 2 of a 12 year old boy and made the subject of a 24 month Supervision Order. He was also made subject to a 30 month registration on the Sex Offender Register (SOR). Shortly after this additional concerns were raised following reports of CM sending indecent texts and voicemails to a 12 year old girl he had contacted on a children’s chat room site. This resulted in a written warning being issued by the YOT.

CM was known to Children’s Social Care (CSC). His parents separated when he was 6 years old following a short and abusive relationship. He has two brothers – one 2 years older and one 3 years his junior, the younger residing at home with his mother. His father has five younger children with a new partner, but has now separated and is living alone. Growing up, CM spent time living with each parent but struggled to cope with their differing parenting styles (his father had very strict boundaries, his mother imposed few boundaries). He was placed into voluntary Care at a Children’s residential Unit and then moved to a two bedded unit following concerns about his behaviour.

At the time of his referral to Circles, CM was known to struggle with negative thoughts, loneliness, low self-esteem and poor emotional regulation. This often resulted in CM self-harming through cutting his arms. Whilst at Glebe House CM came to understand and accept his sexual orientation as bisexual. CM disclosed his sexual orientation to his father prior to leaving Glebe House, though he had not spoken with his mother about it at this point.

Upon leaving Glebe House, CM was subject to weekly supervision by Probation and was also supported by Social Care, and by Glebe House. At the start of his Circle, he was assessed as posing a Medium risk of sexual assault to younger and more vulnerable peers of both genders.

The purpose of the Circle was to help the CM to adhere to his risk management plan, reduce his feelings of social isolation and help him to integrate safely into his new community.

The Circle comprised of 3 female volunteers (two very experienced). The Circle ran for 13 months in total and had 41 meetings. Overall the volunteers had 115 hours of face to face contact with the CM and gave an additional 129 hours of their time for travel and other commitments such as volunteer supervision and training.

The Circle met weekly in a local community venue. At this time, the CM was living in supported accommodation for young people and had secured a job working shifts at a local fast food outlet. Good relationships developed quickly between the volunteers and the CM though he was reticent about discussing his risk management strategies from the start, stating that he posed a low risk and talking about risk made him dwell on his offending.

The Circle helped the CM to develop his confidence and self-esteem, though he was reluctant to engage in activities outside of work citing tiredness as the main reason for his lack of interest. The Circle worked hard to encourage the CM to join local clubs and also tried to support him to eat more healthily as he had a poor diet comprising mainly of takeaways and pizza. During the Circle period the CM moved into independent accommodation. He successfully maintained his tenancy and was promoted at work. His relationships with all family members improved throughout the duration of the Circle and all appeared to be going well.

Then, the Circle was informed that the CM had been arrested for new offences of sharing indecent images of children. However, it was identified that the offences dated back to the first weeks of the Circle, not long after the CM had left the therapeutic community. A few days after Police seized the CM’s technology in relation to the new offences, the CM made a serious suicide attempt and spent several days in hospital having sought help. This information shook the foundations of the Circle and seriously tested the volunteers’ commitment. They described feelings of betrayal as the CM had stated throughout that he was ‘keeping safe’. After a tense and uncomfortable meeting involving the CM, Coordinator and volunteers, the Circle continued with rebuilding trust as the primary objective. The CM lost his job as a result of the new Police investigation but soon after secured work on a building site which he thoroughly enjoyed.

When the Circle ended some 4 months later, the CM was working part time for a construction firm and was still awaiting the outcome of the Police investigation. Two of his volunteers agreed to maintain contact after the Circle had ended.

One volunteer said:

‘It’s been a really good Circle. We came through the incident (Police seizure of equipment) and trust has been rebuilt’.

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