​Michaela was only 10 years old when she and her mum, Sandra, were referred to our Families First programme.

Michaela suffers from a hereditary disease that has left her with a troublesome limp. She was badly bullied at school and at one stage this escalated to such a point that she ended up being the victim of a nasty hate crime.

Sandra, who was understandably angry and keen to protect her daughter, didn’t think that the school was doing enough to deal with the situation and she took it upon herself to report the incident to the police.

It was the police that then referred them to Families First, mainly because of the flexibility the programme offers in identifying and providing the right sort of support that each individual needs. In Michaela’s case, it was the help she needed to develop her self-esteem and resilience while Sandra required guidance in learning how best to channel her anger and resentment over what had happened to her daughter into a more positive relationship with the school.

With the patience and ongoing support of their Brathay keyworker, Kirrin, it wasn’t long before Michaela found herself enjoying school again. She made new friends and soon began to thrive. Meanwhile, Sandra’s hostility towards the school slowly began to disappear and she started to see that staff were in fact doing their best to support her and her daughter as a family. She was able to demonstrate her new found trust by attending coffee mornings at the school.

Both mum and daughter recognised the progress they’d made as a result of Families First and were grateful for the intervention. More importantly, Michaela found the confidence to stand up for herself and inform staff of any incidents immediately. This in itself made her feel less vulnerable and, as is so often the case when victims start to speak out against their perpetrators, the bullying eventually died down.