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What is an intervention worker?

Ontrack Online
2014

Whilst working at On Track Intervention Service at Dartington/ in 2018, I was asked to write an article for their inhouse online magazine. I started with:  What is OTIS?  How does it work? What is it for?  The Intervention service was an embryonic department that had been created as a result of one of their special schools realising that they had children referred that were not ready to attend a group or class-based educational setting.  Some might say that the children were school-phobic. But my experience was that they were just running scared.  In some instances their entire families were is the same situation.  Some had underlying, as yet unassessed let alone diagnosed, medical needs.  And, yes, some were a product of family and community abuse.  The visible tips of socialwork  icebergs yet to be struck.

It was clear to me that the company had little idea of how intervention works but luckily for them they appointed a manager who had a wealth of experience and who was attributed growing trust and resources as the results and reputation accrued.  Within months the service expanded exponentially as its reputation grew.  Yet, the vast majority of this charitable company had no idea what we actually did and other regions were beginning to see the need to attach such services to their schools.

So, I wrote the following.  It started as the first paragraph of an article but the “IF” meter by Rudyard Kipling pervaded my thinking so I just let it flow.   The original included photos that had no consent to be used outside of the company so they have been edited out here.  The article was never published, though it was widely copied.  I wrote it to be informative.  Turned out that it reduced many to tears.  Not my intention.  I am guessing that it would have been seen as an open acceptance that the service was too high risk to run.  In truth they did not understand what they had set up or even why it was successful.   The service did though attract some of the most skilled and loving workers I have ever met in child support work. 

Trevor Martin 2014

I could so easily give you chapter and verse with history of its growth from four staff when I started in Feb 2014 to now, 32 staff , ideology, delivery, outcomes, case studies, skills, the future;  It is too much.   So here is my insight into OTIS:Dartington based at Woodlands on the Dartington Estate in South  Devon.   “What is an intervention worker?”

What is an intervention worker?

If you can find out the language, then you can speak

If you can speak or just sit with them in silence with all your heart, you may be heard

If you can engage with an interest, a thread, even if it is nothing you have ever done before, with no script

and go on that journey with them with blinding honesty

Witness their poverty; whether they are hungry, neglected, scared, angry or confused

and remain strong

Know that they are are considered beyond education, often too high a risk to be near any other child or a whole school of trained professionals,

and still sit on an isolated tor so you can both breathe

Start your day with twenty skills, use none, but find more

Have plans and outcomes expected yet journey somewhere totally different

and keep on the path they are to tread

Take risks that grow the child without disabling them or yourself

Be the only solution in a moment or hours but draw on the strength of your colleagues, whilst alone

Pick yourself up when you are struck or fearful of being struck by their actions or their thoughts or by the awful risks they can take in a split second.

And say hello again with love and compassion and stand beside them once more

If you can cry unashamedly and explain to them why.  If you can show your anger but show it lovingly.

If you can weave a blanket that holds them without restraint,

and make boundaries that are not the prisons they fear, that they so wish to escape

If you can unfold laughter and joy that they may smile with you

If you can talk and be heard….

Then you will lose them as they will be ready to move on

And if we are rewarded, they will have learnt that it is worth listening and trusting and most importantly, loving themselves and others along their path

…and then you start all over again.