The day that Social Work got involved was both the worst, and the best, day of my life. My heart was broken, it really was, because I’d had Luke since he’d come out of hospital as a baby, so he was like mine; so that was a hard, hard decision.
Wilma and Luke
We always had good relationship, me and my grandson Luke, a really strong bond. But issues in his life – his background, other family members – caused a build-up of anxieties, which had a knock-on effect on his behaviour, which it does with children. He was always out on the streets, getting into trouble and getting involved with the wrong people and wrong things. He was only ten years old.
I was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with him. I knew he was really such a good laddie, with a good heart, it was sad to watch. I was worried ‘cos I got the impression that some kids, when things like that happen in their life, they get to a stage where they don’t care about themselves any more. And that was the impression I got from Luke at the time.
The Social Worker I spoke to at the time knew that Harmeny was the right place for Luke. And it was… one hundred per cent.
“The biggest thing for me was I felt Harmeny was non-judgmental of Luke or me.”
We went to visit it once, beforehand – and the minute I walked into the grounds, what a relief for me. There was a calmness and members of staff were friendly and professional. But the biggest thing for me, on top of that, was I felt Harmeny was non-judgmental of Luke or me. I had felt judged, how I’d brought him up or how he behaved. I didn’t realise how much ‘til I walked in to Harmeny, and the whole feeling of not being judged… what a relief.
His key worker, Kenny, says to me, after a few visits, “Now, when you come up sometime maybe you could go down the town with Luke, to Balerno, you could walk down with him.” And I thought to myself, “I won’t be taking him anywhere, especially a strange place – No, that won’t be happening.”
But within months, that first year, Luke couldn’t wait to go down the town with me – because his behaviour changed so much. One of my favourite pictures of us is from the November, in a wee place that was called The Letterbox Bistro in Balerno. That was one of the favourite places we went to, and I took a lovely picture of him and I’ve got it in a frame, and he looks just so contented and happy.
“Harmeny made a difference in him. . . I got my grandson back.”
Harmeny made a difference in him. He’s calmer. His anxieties, which he has always had (and will) – they were decreased, he was more at peace with himself.
At Harmeny, Luke went back to doing what kids do, the good things that kids do, and it was a delight to see. On the other hand, he came back a more mature grown-up. He was a much more mature, grown-up laddie when he came out. His ways of thinking. And what a difference in him.
I got my grandson back.
Before Harmeny, I was out on the streets. I thought I was streetwise. But then I went to Harmeny – it was good for me to see what being a kid was like. I went to Harmeny as an ‘adult’ but was able to act like a kid again.
The Fun Factory with the computers was one of my favourite places, but at the end I was a bit of a wanderer. I used to wander the grounds. I spent a lot of time there with the gardener. I spent a lot of time with the outdoors staff – especially Rob. At the end I used to go to the gym with Rob a lot, the proper gym in Ratho.
“Music is important to me; helps me take my mind off things.”
Luke making his glove rack
I went on lots of outdoor trips. I went cycling, played rugby. I tried everything but didn’t like everything because I didn’t have good patience. Woodwork was good, better than art, I made a bench with Rob, and a glove rack. It’s nothing big but it took ages for me and I was well proud that I made it. We burned our initials in it.
“[The glove rack] was nothing big but it took ages for me and I was well proud that I made it.”
Harmeny’s a kind of a family at the end of the day, especially for some of those who dinnae see people, and it was like a family for me every day and it’s kind of like you have your tea with your brother and sister. It could be frustrating. But it was exciting, sometimes, to be honest with you – exciting meeting new people and new things that you haven’t experienced yet.
What’s next for Luke?
Luke, has now left Harmeny and is living with Wilma. He attends his local school and is planning to attend a taster course at college with the aim of securing a joinery apprenticeship. From glove rack to joinery course: it’s good to know that Luke’s experience of woodwork with Rob has made a lasting impact.