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Karen Bellaby

Hypothesis of Needs

Our resident Therapeutic Child Care Consultant, Trudy Darien has over 20 years’ experience as a therapeutic practitioner. She founded the Introduction to Therapeutic Childcare course in 2005, that has now been accredited by APPCIOS (The Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings)

The 4-day course is both theoretical and experiential. The aim of the course is to develop an understanding of child development and the impact of early life trauma. To equip us with techniques to support children and young people and to redress their unmet needs. 

Additionally, Trudy has developed the ‘Hypothesis of Need model’ as a technique to further assist with the understanding of why the knowledge of each child’s backstory is an essential tool to recovery. 

She had worked with several local authorities, residential homes, and foster agencies where the approach focused on behaviour modification, resulting in a lack of understanding of the child’s unmet needs.

In these organisations children’s behaviour was often misinterpreted and they were labeled as having behavioral problems. These children often had numerous placement and school breakdowns that further perpetuated the cycle of neglect.

This prompted her to devise a series of groundbreaking courses which evidenced the significant benefits when applying therapeutic techniques.

Trudy has delivered her training courses to social work teams, care homes, schools and foster agencies which have achieved remarkable outcomes in both the children and those who work with them. 

Trudy now works as a consultant and delivers her training and therapeutic model to a wider audience. Her long term aim is for this course to be nationally recognised as a model for working with children and young people who have experienced early life trauma 

If you would like Trudy to deliver some training or want to find out more about Therapeutic Childcare, please get in touch.  

Is there room in your heart for one more?

Fostering Agency South London - Ascent Fostering Agency

Our latest campaign asks the question ‘Is there room in your heart for one more?’ Fostering is so much more than taking a child into your home and providing them with the basic essentials. It can be a fulfilling journey for both you and the young person you look after. Fair enough, it doesn’t come without its challenges emotionally, mentally and physically but there’s a reason why many foster carers foster for decades.

Most of the time when we ask people to step forward to become foster carers, the focus is predominantly on the benefits for the young person and how it will change their life. Though in this partnership more than one life will be changed. There are countless reasons people may have that stop them taking that step to become a foster carer.  It can be a daunting experience stepping into the unknown, people have thoughts such as, ‘It could tear my family apart’, ‘Will I be a good foster carer?’, ‘It will be too much hard work’, ‘I won’t have a life’, ‘I don’t have enough experience’. Martin Luther King once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” and with fostering there couldn’t be a phrase more fitting. 

We can’t exactly tell you what fostering journey you’ll have, some days will be easy, some days will be hard, some days you’ll just want to give up and some days you’ll feel like you have the best job in the world. Something we can almost guarantee is that it will change you as a person and mostly for the better. If you speak to any foster carer they will tell you that through the challenges, and ups and downs, seeing a child who has not had the best start in life, open up their lives to you and begin to trust you is a feeling like no other.

Children and young people are such an important part of our society and we need amazing people with huge hearts to help nurture and build the next generation. Your life will be so greatly enriched and you’ll be able to see how you played such a huge role in transforming a young person’s life.

Do you have room in your heart for one more?

Tips for Carers: Exam Season

Tips for Carers Exam Season - Ascent Fostering Agency

Exams – who doesn’t remember the nervous wait outside the gym hall, queuing up recounting a the last minute revision session on the bus that morning, clutching your pens and pencils ready sharpened and trying to ignore the nervous feeling in your stomach?

Exams are a pressured and anxious time for most of us, so Ascent is asking how we can best support our young people through one of the most pressured times of their academic lives?

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Consider the period before and during exams as an amnesty on issues that would typically cause some friction. Bedrooms may be slightly messier and chores may slack slightly. But this is okay.

By easing off some of the household duties during exam time, you’ll be giving your child more time and space to focus on exam revision. Once exams are out of the way, the temporary suspension can be lifted and things can go straight back to normal. After all, they will have all the summer holidays to make up for it!

Get involved

Let’s be honest, revision is not the most exciting activity and can actually be quite isolating. So why not help make it more interactive and fun. Test your child on their exam content by doing quiz games. You can be the quizmaster and they can be the contestant and you can follow the format of some popular quiz games on TV.

Why not switch roles too and you take the role as contestant, this can also help your child learn as they prompt you on the answers you may not know or by hearing the answers repeated again.

Know your child’s entire exam schedule.

Pin a copy of the examination timetable on the kitchen notice board. You should also note the date and time of each paper. Make sure you are at all times aware when your child has to be in the examination centre.


Diet is extremely important during the exam season. The right food and drink can energise your system, improve your alertness and sustain you through long exam hours. On the other hand, the wrong dietary choices can make you feel sluggish and jittery. So making sure your child is eating regularly, healthily and drinking lots of water is very important. 

Take a break

We’ve all heard the saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. It’s important that your child or young person is taking breaks throughout studying. Not only does it allow them to refresh and charge up, but it helps them to feel relaxed through studying and gives them something to look forward to, to motivate them through studying.

Don’t overhype the importance of any examination
Make it clear to the children in your care that your love and regard for them is in no way dependent on how they perform in exams. This affirmation is the best gift you can give them.

Tips for Carers: How to keep a young person safe online

Keeping YP safe online - Tips for Carers - Ascent Fostering Agency

The internet can be an amazing resource that enables children and young people to learn, connect, communicate and express creativity in a number of different ways and on a range of devices.

However, the internet is an ever-changing space and being able to keep up to date with online developments can prove challenging. .  .the internet can be beneficial in so many ways, there are numerous dangers that children and young people need to be aware of. The following tips should help children and young people use the internet safely:

  1. Maintaining an open dialogue – encourage your young person to talk to you about their experiences online i.e. who they follow, what they have seen today, what they have posted. Making them feel comfortable talking to you about their online experience means they are more likely to inform you if they see anything alarming
  2. Explain all the dangers – by informing your young person of all the dangers on the internet, they have all the information and are aware of what to look out for.
  3. Monitor usage – apps such as AntiSocial and Freedom are great for setting time restrictions on particular websites to ensure your young person doesn’t spend hours on social media, gaming websites etc.
  4. Use nicknames – encourage use of nicknames instead of full names where possible (to protect personal information).
  5. Tackling Cyber bullying – make sure your child knows who to go to for help if they experience bullying online. If they are experiencing bullying, it may be good to get them to take time out from the internet and engage in other activities such as (reading, playing sport, watching a film etc).
  6. Don’t bury your head – Keep up-to date with the latest apps such Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Periscope,, Twitter and Houseparty

Child Sexual Exploitation

Safeguarding for Foster Carers - Ascent Fostering Agency

“Child sexual exploitation (CSE)  is a hidden crime . . .people don’t want to talk about it”, says Kendra Houseman the founder of Out the Shadows, a training and consultancy service that provides support on understanding gangs and child sexual exploitation.

Most child sexual exploitation remains hidden. Never reported or even uncovered by an official agency which makes the lines of CSE even more blurred. CSE is a very complex subject and presents itself in many forms which can make it hard for parents, guardians and carers to spot when it is taking place.

Police have warned of the existence of several different “models” of grooming, including online, through personal relationships and using drink and drugs.

Child sexual exploitation can be carried out by adults or other young people   It often involves the young person being offered drugs, alcohol, money, gifts, cigarettes, mobile phones or supposed affection in return for engaging in sexual activity. CSE doesn’t neatly fit into the category of rape or prostitution, many of the sexual exchanges are consensual. But it’s undoubtedly clear that the young people involved are clearly being taken advantage of; due to their vulnerability or an imbalance in power. 

Kendra Houseman also states that there are even deeper issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of young people. “What’s more under-reported than CSE, is the huge percentage of boys being sexually exploited by gangs,” stating “there’s the sexual exploitation of boys, gangs embarrassing boys, lending out boys to other people to prove dominance.”

These startling findings and reports show the importance of educating young people and carers. So what should you do if you feel your young person is being sexually exploited. Here are some tips along with some preventative measures:

Talk – as your young person reaches their adolescent years it’s important to keep the channels of communication open. Talk about the issue! Try to build a relationship where you have open lines of communication where you able to discuss any topics or issues openly and comfortably.

Family time – as children get older and more independent time spent with family becomes rarer. Encouraging activities and family time means that your young person is within a positive and loving environment surrounded by people who care about them.

Seek professional help/advice – it can be overwhelming news to hear that your child is being exploited and most times it is an area that you have no idea about. Seeking professional support means that the situation can be handled in the best way possible.

Show support – let your young person know that they are not to blame and ensure that they know you are on their side.

Teenagers are Fun

Fostering Teenagers - Ascent Fostering Agency South London

Teenagers tend to get a bad rep in the media. We often see reports of teenagers failing at school, wrapped up in the world of social media or displaying anti-social behaviour. These labels tend to stick more to young people who are from a care background, contributing to the narrative that teenagers present more difficulty when fostering.

Our campaign at the end of last year, ‘Teenagers are Fun’ aims to open up mindsets and position young people in a new light. By putting the spotlight on teenagers we hope to encourage prospective foster carers and also current carers to see how fostering a teenager can actually be a wonderful experience.

Here at Ascent, since we began in 2013 we have always worked with teenagers and have witnessed many of them blossom with their foster families. So, why do we think fostering teenagers is fun?:

    1. LEARN – when you foster a teenager you both can learn so much from each other. So many of our foster carers tell us that after fostering a teenager they learnt so much. Whether it’s learning the latest trends, newest colloquials or knowing who the ‘next best thing since sliced bread is’ having a teenager means you are always learning something new. However, most importantly it’s what a teenager can teach you about yourself in the process. Each day uncovering something new.
    2. QUALITY TIME – an advantage of fostering a teenager is that there are so many activities that you can do together. From go-karting, indoor rock climbing, bowling, cooking classes, the list just goes on. Quality time is an important factor when building a relationship, especially outside the home. There are so many benefits such as ‘building self-esteem, strengthening bonds, develops positive behaviours, improves communication and help academic performance’ (ParentingNI – The Importance of Spending Time Together
    3. REWARDING – fostering teenagers is extremely rewarding as you can often see the changes really clearly. You’re teaching life skills such as budgeting and helping them plan for the future. When you support them to move onto independent living and see them doing well, you have a great sense of pride

Here are some of what our carers have to say about fostering teenagers:

“They keep me young and engaged”

“My young person shows me his latest dance moves – hilarious”

“I love shopping with my young person, she has me trying on things I would have never thought would look good”

“I get to hear the latest  chat-up lines”

“We try to play a board game after dinner on a Sunday, this always ends up with us laughing at the most ridiculous things”

“I never thought taking selfies could be such fun , lots of filters lots of laughs”

We are always seeking loving, stable homes for teenagers who may have experienced a tricky headstart to life. If you live in South London and have a spare room, we would love to hear from you. In return you’ll receive in-depth training, ongoing support and witness the positive change you can make in a young person’s life.

Call us on 0203 757 0070 or email us at 

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