My name is Gethin Jones and I run a company called Unlocking Potential. The main purpose of my work is to break down the ‘them and us’ narrative between the professional and the client. I work within prisons, local authorities and charities. I deliver my work through inspirational talks, training and coaching, and my main focus is on how we can create Human to Human (H2H) relationships.
If you are a professional, remember this. Every morning you wake up as a human being. You then put on your professional identity, you wear your pass, go into a public office and start your day. When a client wakes up, they too wake up as a human being. They
then put on then put on their identity, trauma and dysfunction and it’s only then that you both meet. The thing you both have in common is that you are both human beings, and it is this connection that will support change.
I managed large teams within both adult care and children’s social care. I always had staff moaning about the client. I always listened and thought ‘yes you are right, but you are also wrong.’ I also listened to complaints from clients (adults and children) again I
thought ‘yes you are right, but you are also wrong.’
I gained this perspective due to my own personal experience and this has helped me to get professionals to look past the file and to truly understand the person. I use the same concept when working with clients.
Let me tell you my story.
I always say that I was born into the system. Social care was there from the day I was born. My mum was a care leaver, a single parent and she had some learning difficulties. This meant that my home life was not great, and my mum was not able to give me the love, care and nurture I needed to develop and grow. My early years were filled with trauma, abandonment and neglect. These experiences came out in my behaviour and this was punished from a young age and made me believe that I was bad, naughty and everything was my fault. This led me to create a self-fulfilling prophecy and I acted out what people said.
I went to court for the first time when I was 11-years-old, and at the same time was given a full care order. This didn’t deter me, it made me rebel more and I struggled to build relationships with adults and professionals. I viewed all these people as my enemy, and life continued to spiral out of control. I went to many children’s homes which I was always running away from. I started to drink, smoke cannabis and sniff glue (it was the early 80s’).
This led to a lot more appearances in court. At the age of 14 (1985), I was old enough to be locked up and two weeks after my birthday I was sent to a Detention Centre. For those who remember this time you will know that these places were brutal. When I was there something inside of me broke and I started to live by these rules:
• I was no longer going to play your game
• The only person I could depend upon was me
• I was never going to trust another living soul
When I left the detention centre, I went to a home that had open units, secure units and education on site. I ended up in secure units at 14 and 15 and I got my second prison sentence at 15, and I call this the full stop on my childhood.
My early years led to 20 years of self-destruction, which meant I was expelled from schools and had no qualifications. I spent 8 years behind the door, I became a dependent heroin user and destroyed all my relationships. I also was not able to be the father I wanted to be to my children.
People talk about how I rehabilitated, and this is a word I struggle with. Rehabilitation means that we take something back to its former self. I don’t believe I had a previous self and what I actually went through was an identity shift. I heard about a barrister once who was representing a 15-year-old in care. The judge wanted to lock him up and said he had come off the rails.
The barrister said, “Your honour I hear what you are saying but what if there were no rails?”
My message to you is if you are working or looking after a child with complex behaviours what you may need to ask is: what has happened to this child to make them act in this way? A child is a child, and they respond to their environment. I always tell people it is not the system that changes people it is individuals that work within it. You are those individuals
I once heard this quote
What we see we learn
What we learn we practice
What we practice we become
But what we become is not what we were meant to be It is us as professionals who are the ones that can change the outcomes of those that we support, and we do this through creating Human to Human relationships. ◆
If you want to get in touch, please contact Gethin through
www.unlockingthepotential.co.uk. You can also follow me on
Twitter @GethinUnlocks, LinkedIn – Gethin Jones Unlocking Potential,
and my H2HRelationships group on Facebook