Pavla Holubova has been working on the frontline of Railway Children’s services supporting young people every day since the Birmingham project opened in July. She shares with us a typical day in her complex and challenging role…
My day starts on public transport – we spend quite a lot of our time travelling – this time on my way to meet a young person in school. Many of the children we support feel safer meeting in school and are more likely to show up there than when we arrange to meet at home. This girl has poor mental health and considered suicide in the past so I’m hoping for a positive session today.
While on the train I answer the phone to the parent of another case – the child has gone missing and mum is very distressed. It’s extremely concerning so I get straight on to children’s social care to pass on the safeguarding information and speak to a colleague to pick it up as I arrive at school.
The girl I’ve come to meet is in school and feeling really positive so we have a great session. We talk about self-esteem and she has come really far since our last visit which is great to see. At the same time a call comes in to say that the next young person I was supposed to be meeting has not shown up. It’s always difficult to predict who will engage with us and who won’t so I write up the notes and head to the station.
I arrive at Birmingham New Street to hold an awareness session with members of the rail staff there. It’s vital they know what to look out for when children are in danger and we help them to spot the signs of mental health issues, grooming and abuse so they can react accordingly.
Once I’m back at the computer I have two online meetings with young people. Some have found this an easier way to communicate since the pandemic and enjoy the barrier of a screen – it allows them to open up a bit more and we’ve found it works well in many cases. Then another virtual meeting brought people from across numerous organisations together to discuss a young person we support – social services, CAHMS, education authority and a parent – and we all planned how best to offer help.
I head back out to meet a young person in a café. This boy prefers being in a neutral environment so we have a catch up over a hot chocolate and he explains how he is still trying to distance himself from a county lines drugs gang that are putting pressure on him. We talk about safety and resilience and I leave hoping he’ll be able to keep away from them.
At home I catch up with the colleague who dealt with the earlier phone call and I’m happy to hear the girl has been found and is safe. I write up my notes and check I have everything ready for tomorrow when we have an all-day operation with BTP focused on knife crime and how to protect young people on the rail network.
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