A resilience-building project
The Freagarroch Project (freagarroch is a Celtic word meaning 'answering need') works exclusively with persistent young offenders in the Falkirk area of Scotland. It is run by Barnados and has been in existence since 1995. Its aim is to reduce the rate of recidivism in the young people who participated. Evaluation of the project by the University of Lancaster discovered that more than 90% of the young offenders had experienced loss or rejection within their family. The factors taken into account by the researchers included:
- Death of a parent or carer
- Rejection by one or both parents, or carer, including neglect
- Divorce or sepatation of parents
- Significant loss of status in family due to step-family arrangements
- Continual change of residence
- Loss of parent due to serious mental or physical illness
The disruption, adversity and unhappiness overshadowing their family relationships had had an impact on their values, attitudes, personalities and social skills. They also had a tendency towards high dependency on drugs and alcohol. Aggression and an inability to express their emotions were common. Project workers saw their main task as being: to help the young person come to terms with the reality of a chronically dysfunctional family experience and with the feelings of sorrow, regret and loss this entailed.
In working with these young people, the keys to success were seen by workers as:
- Improving family relationships - involving the family wherever possible and providing families with support and reassurance about how to care and set boundaries
- Providing a 'micro-community of care'
- Engagement - helping the young person define the agenda and work within it
- The style of the worker was crucial - acceptance, empathy and non-possessive warmth were important aspects of successful change
- Refusal to give up was seen as the magic ingredient that made the project distinctive
- Creating an environment of safety, comfort and nurture - the young people stressed the importance of food and comfort.
More information on the project click here