Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Bramley Child & Youth Care Centre bids farewell to Helena Willers

On 30 August 2019, Helena Willers, will drive through the gates of Bramley Child & Youth Care Centre for the last time. After six years and two months at Bramley, she will retire and move to Tergniet on the Garden Route.

She decided to study social work as she always had an interest in people and the way in which they function.  “I always wanted to understand why people act the way they do or remain passive…..” says Helena.  “According to my dad I always had questions about people’s behaviour”.  She said her parents recommended teaching as a career, which in their opinion would have caused less emotional stress and she did consider this for a while – but her passion for people won!

Looking back, she remembers how many home visits were done in 1978, almost immediately when a report came in.  She worked in Eersterust at that time. “I remember wanting to do group work with a group of Grade 9 girls and how I battled to find a camping site for a multi-racial group,” she told us.  “We had interesting group sessions with foster care parents, wrote our reports by hand before handing it to the typists and we had to submit reports to Court 14 days prior to the hearing”, said Helena.  Today everything is done electronically, and the social workers type their own reports.

According to Helena, one of her biggest challenges was to appoint qualified and experienced child and youth care workers.  “The complexity of our children is also a challenge and needs a lot of thought and planning. With fewer children going out over weekends and during the school holidays, reunification with the community is also problematic,” said Helena.  Finding employment opportunities for children with special needs and assisting children with peer pressure really tested her skills as social worker during her time with Bramley.

“I am still amazed about the open hands and hearts of Management and the community, “says Helena.  It was such a blessing to receive donations and support which enabled Bramley to provide for the children. And then I enjoyed getting feedback about children that have successfully been reintegrated with the community and become active members of society”, she said.

Helena is really looking forward to the new environment and relaxing near the ocean. She plans to do some gardening (in pots) and do some improvements to her home. She wants to travel and spend time with friends and family.  Starting from 2020 she will be looking for some voluntary work. “I definitely will listen to more music and read more”, says Helena.

The best advice she ever received was to always give your best and be your best. And the best advice she can give anyone is to use humour, honesty, commitment and sincerity to get ahead in life.

Her hope for Bramley CYCC is to create the space for each child to work through their trauma and then adapt their lives, utilise the opportunities created for them and to excel in their school.  This will equip them better to face life in the community. 

Her personal motto is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no results”.

Helena will be missed at Bramley and we wish her a happy retirement.  Caren Malherbe has been appointed as the new Manager: Bramley CYCC.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Teen suicide is PREVENTABLE

By Yolandi Singleton: Therapy Unit

Being a teenager these days are tremendously challenging. There are many stressors they have to deal with and mostly feel that no one understands them. Hormonal changes as well as developing their identity are factors amongst many others that plays a role in teenagers experiencing confusion, moods and emotional distress.

Suicide is always a topic that should be dealt with in the most sensitive way possible. It is a mental health concern. Individuals who feel the need to commit suicide really believe that the world will be a much better place if they are not in it. They truly believe and have convinced themselves that the people nearest to them will be better off. They have completely lost hope and don’t see any way out. 

They are not selfish, but merely want to end their lives in order to feel relief from all the stressors they are facing and overwhelms them.

Teenagers who want to commit suicide can deal with many stressors such as being bullied, being a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse as well as abandonment from significant figures in their lives which most probably occurred from a very young age or even during pregnancy. Research have shown that trauma has a large negative impact on the functioning of the brain. Therefore, when a person deal with multiple trauma, it causes a chemical imbalance in the brain. This happens in the part of the brain where logic plays an important role. As a result, individuals that experience multiple trauma lose their logical thinking.

Here are some warning signs that a teenager wants to commit suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to commit suicide or wanting to harm themselves
  • Writing about wanting to commit suicide by means of poems, assignments or essays
  • Not taking anti-depressants that was prescribed
  • Being isolated – not have a need to engage with his/her peer group
  • Change in personality and habits such as eating and sleeping habits
  • Constantly and excessively verbalising that he/she is good enough
  • Change in behaviour – the teenager is completely different to how he/she use to be
  • Not having any hopes and dreams for the future
  • Having severe anger outbursts, being very aggressive and have unpredictable mood swings

Many times teenagers threaten to commit suicide and it is then viewed as that the child is seeking attention. No suicidal thoughts should ever be ignored or seen as a mere threat. Here are some tips on how to prevent your teen from committing or attempting to commit suicide:

  • Have an open relationship with your child where your child feels free to communicate with you. The best way to improve on the relationship is to be on par with your child’s needs and to listen attentively to what they say
  • Identify your child’s emotions whilst listening and do not dismiss how they feel about anything. Don’t make them feel that they are overacting, rather acknowledge the feeling and provide support.
  • Share your feelings as well so that your child learn to meet you halfway
  • Encourage the child to mingle with his/her peer group
  • Do not expose your child to violence in the home for example partner-violence
  • Act immediately when your child disclose sexual, physical abuse or being bullied
  • Encourage your child to exercise in order to prevent stress
  • If your child verbalised suicide thoughts or has made attempts, hide any harmful weapons and objects such as firearms, knives, ropes, medication, gas and alcohol.

If you as a parent or caregiver followed the abovementioned steps and still see troublesome behaviour regarding suicide with your child, contact a professional such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist for further assistance. Do not feel alone. Seek help and guidance immediately.

If you need to talk to someone, please contact Child Welfare Tshwane on 012-3439392.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Warning signs and red flags for possible sexual abuse

Written by: Yolandi Singleton, Supervisor: Assessment & Therapy Unit

Recent court cases regarding alleged sexual abuse and neglect of children brings this matter to the fore again. Sexual abuse is probably the type of abuse that upsets the society the most. As adults we are extremely aware that it causes physical, psychological, social and emotional damage to a child when being sexually abused - not to mention the other challenges the same child might be facing at the same time.

Children mostly display problematic behaviour to show the world what they are experiencing, without verbally expressing it. When it comes to sexual abuse, children will often subtly make disclosures in order to test the reaction of the receiver. All too often children do not want to disclose abuse as they are afraid they will not be believed or that the receiver will be angry or think that the child was in some way responsible for the abuse.

Many times we find that parents who battle their own unresolved issues due to childhood sexual abuse often project their hurt and pain onto their children as a way to cope with their own trauma or to gain control over their personal experience. Due to their own trauma they tend to place their child in the victim seat when any possible threatening situation arises, resulting in the sexual abuse of the child.

The signs and symptoms of children who have been sexually, emotionally or physically abused are more or less the same. It is therefore challenging to determine what type of abuse the child was exposed to by merely looking at behaviour. The following warning signs can however be reasons for concern when considering the possibility of sexual abuse:

  • Excessive masturbation, still continuing even after boundaries were set to the child;
  • When a child wants to sexually engage with another child by attempting to enforce penetration of the genitals or any form of object;
  • Encopresis (soiling in pants) or enuresis (bedwetting);
  • When a child makes a disclosure and thereafter recant (withdraw their statement);
  • Expressing strange and overly anxious comments about a specific person;
  • Infection in the genitals (consider that some genital infections might be due to medical reasons);
  • Age inappropriate sexual behaviour (the child displays sexual behaviour when not supposing to have such knowledge);
  • If a child displays inappropriate sexual behaviour, explore it in a non-leading way such as: “I am wondering where you learned to do… or tell me more…”;
  • When the sexual behaviour put the child or someone else in a position to get hurt:
  • When the child’s main focus during play is to engage on a sexual level; or
  • Sudden change in behaviour such as sleeping and eating patterns (consider that these symptoms are also present when children have been physically or emotionally abused).

What to do when a child made a sexual abuse disclosure:

  • Children do not verbally communicate like adults and find it difficult to express the experience. It is important to stay calm and find help. Do not overreact. It causes more harm.
  • Do not interrogate the child.
  • Do not say anything negative about the alleged abuser (this will scare the child and cause possible withdraw. Remember, perpetrators are threatening and manipulative).
  • Do not make empty promises, such as “you will never see that person again”.
  • If you are not trained to explore abuse by means of forensic interviewing, limit your questions regarding the abuse and the alleged perpetrator. Avoid questions that leads the child to a specific answer you want. Resist the temptation to gather all the information. Leave it to the professionals to explore properly.
  • Let the child know that you believe him/her and that you are proud of them for telling you something you know must hurt a lot. Assure the child that you do not blame them and are not angry and that it is not their fault.

Remember that for a child to disclose sexual abuse is a very brave step, but a difficult step at the same time. Children must be free to experience life in a non-threatening way. At times they can engage in innocent sexual play without having the intention to receive sexual gratification, but merely to explore body parts, which is an interesting topic for youngsters at times. Treat them gently and assure them of your support and understanding.

If you suspect sexual or other abuse, please contact us on 012-4609236.

Child Welfare Tshwane – serving the community of Tshwane with pride since 1918.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Women’s month 2019 : #WhatWomenWant

Wellness 2019 - The realness of the ‘invisible load’ – and how to take control.

By Anja van Beek, Agile Talent Strategist, Leadership Expert, and Coach

The ‘invisible load’ is real. Think about it. Think about all the roles you have to switch to daily.  Perhaps this scenario will resonate: “The alarm goes off at 04:30 am and you pack all the lunchboxes. From there you finish off a presentation that you worked on last night. Whilst delivering that presentation you remind yourself you need to quickly stop at Woolies as you need to get something for your youngest teacher’s birthday tomorrow. On your way home to fetch the kids from aftercare, you also phone your husband to remind him that he needs to arrange with the gardener for this coming weekend. Oh, and you need to send your close friend a message to arrange a coffee for this weekend as she has been a bit off lately.”

Could this be you?

The theme for Women’s month 2019 is #WhatWomenWant and all women are encouraged to state, without any fear, what they really want.

Something beautiful happens in women when they stand up for what they believe in and see their voice carry power.

I have noticed that many women, at one point or another, struggle to find the time to cope with the demands of modern-day life (invisible load), especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But it is a very tough task.

We will often hear “there just is not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious. As a working and ambitious mother, I understand the importance of finding a balance between all the roles and responsibilities.

For me, it is summarized in the quote “Balance is not better TIME management, but better BOUNDARY management”.

This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.

If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:

1.       Make time to reflect

Life goes "up and down"; like a heart rate's rhythm going up and down on a chart. Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows you the opportunity to gain perspective on the situations, we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.

By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again. It is also helpful to recognize your emotions in the “up and down” times. Ask yourself "What does the emotion mean and how can I use it to move closer to my goal?".

An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org
provides a few good sentence starters: http://bit.ly/2GbBtD3

2.       If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park for a season?

All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interests outside our family and work life. Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enrol for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.

3.       Learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty

‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Read that again.

We can’t be all “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.

4.       Choose a support system you can trust

Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.

As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties (invisible load) in our personal lives as well.

How do you get out of this overwhelmed feeling?

·       ‘Perfect’ can be a blind spot. We so often want to control everything and letting go or asking for help might be the first step in finding balance.
·       Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or an au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
·       Discuss sharing chores with your partner. Many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
·       The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “Be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.
You don’t have to be superwomen; decide what is important to you and stick with that.

5.       Be intentional about “me time”

Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. The reality is that women need to fill their own cup. When last did you make yourself a priority?

Be intentional about scheduling “me time” and decide what will really help you to recharge your batteries and relax. For some it will be choosing some sort of exercise, for others a little reading every day or unwinding with a glass of wine, will do wonders.

It all starts with you!

My wish for you is that Women Month 2019 marks the start of a journey owning your voice. May you be able to speak up and state, without fear, what you really want.

To track any newly made commitments, download the FREE Mandala Habit Tracker, which will help you in a creative way.

#WomenMonth2019 #WhatWomenWant #InspireWomen

Anja is a Talent Strategist and Leadership Coach. She was one of the first to be authorised as an Agile People professional and facilitator in 2018. The ex-Sage HR Director now consults with leaders and HR teams on all people-related aspects with a specific focus on adopting an agile mindset integrating agile principles and practices. She is a leadership coach and an expert in supporting teams to remain relevant and thrive in the future of work. She also works for various companies as a facilitator focusing on leadership development, mentoring and change management.