One of the families we’re working hard to support is 15-year-old Jess and her mum, who we’ve been working with for over a year now.
Jess was first referred to us after British Transport Police officers were concerned for her welfare – she was very young to be hanging around Leeds station and they were worried she might be in danger. She was seen in gangs with older teenagers and there was a lot of criminal activity going on within the group – with alcohol and drugs regularly involved.
Over the last 12 months we’ve tried to help Jess understand the risks she is taking, but she still goes missing from home a lot and hasn’t been in school for a long time now. We have spent time with the family too, and know her mum is struggling to control her daughter.
There has been a lot of trauma in both their backgrounds with abusive relationships in the past and Jess’s mum has been desperate and distressed by her daughter’s behaviour.
Relationships between the whole family were stretched to breaking point before the coronavirus outbreak took its toll.
Now the fear and worry Jess’s mum has for her daughter, and the danger Jess herself is in, has intensified. Jess is still spending a long time away from the home and will not accept the social distancing and lockdown rules. She continues to hang out with older men, committing petty crimes, drinking and using drugs.
Social services are also concerned, and as Jess is repeatedly risking contracting coronavirus and passing it on to her family, they have decided that Jess’s siblings would be safest staying with other relatives for now.
The family is being torn apart and we know Jess is putting herself in more and more danger every day.
Her mum is worried she is involved in county lines, moving drugs around for the gangs, and that she is being sexually exploited too. Our teams are talking to Jess’s mum often, trying to help her get Jess to come home, and stay home. We’re making sure the family has all the support available from other, already stretched, services and we won’t stop until we know Jess is safe.
We’re contacting her regularly and keeping in touch by text while we are unable to meet face-to-face but will still be there for Jess, and her family throughout these incredibly difficult times.