James's Story


DoorWays Youth Project

For the purpose of our case study, we will use the name James, keeping confidentiality but allowing the visibility of the process.


James was 14 years old and referred to Doorways by a local school. The simple document gave an outline of events leading up to this point, the schools concerns and a risk assessment. James had been disruptive in class and in danger of being excluded; his behaviour towards teaching staff had become unacceptable, this had all been out of character to James’s previous behaviour.


Doorways were to provide a safe environment where James could complete some schoolwork on a reduced timetable for 4-weeks; a weekly update would be provided and changes made if required. James was aware that further action could be taken, moving him to another education facility.


Over the first week, James engaged with the project and was able to talk about his frustrations and the behaviour pattern that followed. Having schoolwork provided for James to do at Doorways was important, though the project has resources in video and media, which can be used as an occupier while trust is being confirmed. James made a slow start and it was only when he felt safe enough, that he began to open up.


James had retreated into areas where he felt he could cope, shutting down much of his homework duties and school acquaintances. Aggressive behaviour emerged as pressure increased due to uncompleted work, cannabis was also found to be an issue; James felt it was the only thing that helped him cope.


The project provided a mix of activities: school work, one to one counselling and some relaxation. The focus was on choices, to assist James in beginning to see that he had choices, and the choices he made would gain a desired outcome. Allowing James to process these choices, including choosing or not choosing cannabis proved to show a marked difference in his anxiety levels; James began to make plans, recognise and manage how he was feeling.

Rejoining mainstream education, James would still call into Doorways to say hi and let us know how he was doing.