Comments

We value all feedback because it enables us to effectively evaluate and improve the service we provide for young people.

We would like to know what we did well and the areas we may need to work on. If Atkinson has been your home or you have come to visit a friend or relative we would love to hear about your experience.

If you are a social worker (or an officer from a placing authority) who has placed a young person with us we would value your feedback too.

Share your experience by leaving a comment below for us to publish on this web page, or contact Mark Street, Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager (atkinson@devon.gov.uk)

If you are unhappy or have concerns with the service please write to the manager of the Atkinson Home in the first instance. If you remain unhappy with the outcome you can contact Devon County Council’s customer service team on 0345 155 1078 or speak to Ofsted (the organisation that inspects children’s homes) on 0300 1231231.

We would of course also like to hear from you if you would like to compliment us or the service provided, as well.

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page:

15 comments on “Comments

  1. LC says:

    My experience of the Atkinson Home

    My journey that brought me into contact with the Atkinson Home began 8 months earlier (in April 2019) when my daughter began to self-harm. Over a period of 12 to 16 weeks she went from being a typical, balanced, fun loving 11/12 year old (albeit with an autistic, sometimes aggressive and demand avoidant brother), to a child that was secreting kitchen knives in her bedroom to cut with on an almost daily basis. Her behaviour rapidly escalated within the latter 8 weeks of this time frame, to viable suicide attempts due to medication overdoses and life threatening ligatures and meaningful attempts to run into fast moving traffic. While the my daughter’s self-harm started manifesting at home, several of the attempts happened while she was an inpatient in an acute hospital ward then, a therapeutic residential home with one to one supervision and a tier 4 CAHMS hospital ward.

    During this timeframe, alongside the general trauma of living through this experience as a mother and not knowing if my daughter might succeed the next time and that I might lose her, I also experienced judgement by all professionals involved, whom largely formulated the view that there must be profound safeguarding issues in the family and parental neglect relating to the level of care my daughter had received from me to have triggered such behaviour.

    In December 2019, a decision was taken by Social Care that my daughter should be moved to the Atkinson Home. I was hugely concerned about this move as I had watched all the Dispatches and Panorama TV programmes about the bleak environments that these places represented; how children place out of area get forgotten by their placing Social Care departments; and just how far Exeter was from her home. It felt like a further step along the ‘looked after child’ path and an embedding of the institutionalisation of her which was synonymous with an embedding of her destructive behaviours and a crushing of her huge personal potential. Unsurprisingly this was reinforced by my first impressions of the establishment when I saw the high fences topped with razor wire and my heart broke a little bit more.

    However, that was the last negative experience I have had regarding my interactions with Atkinson and the associated staff teams, safe guarding processes and partnership working. Without wishing to use hyperbole, my experience with Atkinson has been life saving for my daughter and profoundly life changing for me. The quality of intervention has been exceptional. It has been fully and exclusively personalised to me and my family’s needs and the parental therapy sessions’ delivery have been responsive, productive, appropriately challenging and guided by therapeutic parenting theory/evidence based.

    If I had to only use three words to describe literally all my experiences with every staff member that I have crossed paths with, without exception every one of the team have been efficient, impactful and kind. Massively and hugely kind with equal measure of competence. I cannot praise the delivery model of Atkinson enough. It caught me and my family when we were in free fall and it held us. Unlike all the services that I have previously been exposed to (which are all about ticking boxes, time limits and brief intervention delivery models where the surface of issues are barely scratched before cases are closed and you are sent on your way along the social care and CAMHS conveyor belt), the CAMHs and the wider staff team are wholly focused on achieving a lasting impact and delivering meaningful change. My work with them has been a game-changer for me. I have gained insights, made connections between events in my past and seen repeating behaviour and thought patterns. These have historically governed my decision making which previously I was not conscious of, or at least couldn’t untangle to gain control of these issues. But now I am hopeful that as a result of developing a new skill set, with time and practice I can create a far more nurturing and compassionate dynamic both toward my inner self and also within the family unit with the children.

    Furthermore, alongside the therapeutic parenting work that I have undertaken within Atkinson, the staff team have also actively explored my concerns about the possibility of neurodiversity also being a feature of my daughter’s profile. This has been so important as despite having raised it a number of times with the other specialists that have been working with my daughter, they didn’t progress this line of enquiry, which meant that previously the therapeutic model to support my daughter has been too narrow. Now though she and I are being very well supported to gain insights into her needs which mean that in the longer term I am going to be better equipped to support her, but most importantly, my daughter is going to be better equipped to understand herself and consequently manage her own needs proactively.

    I cannot thank the Atkinson staff team enough for their work. I honestly do not have a bad word to say and to top it off the physical environment of the building and the grounds are also lovely and welcoming. Thank you.

  2. AW says:

    Thank you for helping me as much as you could even do I was hard to work with at times. I loved the gardening I learned me a lot about gardening. Thank you for supporting me.

  3. AW, aged 15 says:

    Thank you to all the lovely care staff at Atkinson. I know I was hard work but worth it! Thank you for everything and for sticking with me.

  4. JS, aged 20 says:

    Thank you to everyone at Atkinson who worked with me. When I was at Atkinson, staff helped and supported me. I am now 20 years old, I am living independently, going to college and I am a counsellor at my college. Thank you 🙂

  5. MY aged 15 says:

    It was good. I lived there for 10 months. The staff are there to help you in different support of need.

  6. Mp aged 15 says:

    I was in the Atkinson for over a year, When I first got there I didn’t think I had to be in there. but over the year I built amazing relationships with most staff. When I left in January I didn’t want to leave and I knew why I had to be in there. I miss the Atkinson and they helped me with my behaviours. Thank you guys 🙂

  7. BG, aged 17 says:

    I went to Atkinson and it helped me with not running away but when I came out before my 14th birthday I started to say things like I am going to take your keys and run away with them. I have run away a couple of times but not very much, things did happen to me but I have grown up to be a big 17 year old girl. I am now going into semi independence accommodation.

  8. MH says:

    I lived at Atkinson when I was 14, left at 15. Staff was very kind to me, I kept in contact with a member of retired staff ever since I left – I think it’s a good home I was in there as I kept running away.

  9. Sentient Trust says:

    Please pass on our sincere thanks and congratulations to all students and staff involved with producing your fantastic student council film. We showcased your film at our recent Sentient event, to a large and wide-ranging audience who were all very impressed. It gave us a much greater understanding of the many activities that students are involved with. We especially enjoyed hearing students describe some of their favourite activities and other aspects of their daily lives at school. Hearing the school described through the voice of your students was both an instructive and positive experience for everyone present. Once again, please pass on our congratulations and thanks to all involved.

  10. ES, aged 15 says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for everything you all did for me. I am now qualified to cut and dye hair, thanks to you. When I arrived at Atkinson I didn’t care about my future but now that’s all I think about. I wouldn’t have got my life sorted without all of your help… Thank you!

  11. KE aged 15 says:

    The sound of chickens woke me up at 4 this morning, but I couldn’t be annoyed – it was different to hearing cars and people and trains it was relaxing, different to the city. I lay there just listening to the pattern of the chickens each one knowing when his turn was, until silence…… one chicken had gone out of turn which confused the others so they stopped, I imagined that if they were people what there facial expression was and them arguing about doing it in the wrong order which amused me till they started again.

  12. AI aged 16 says:

    ‘Wishing’

    When life throws you lemons
    You make lemonade.
    But when life throws you painful memories
    You just wish they went away.
    Even though they scar you
    And leave a mark
    You wish you could press rewind
    And go back to the start
    When everything was fine
    And everyone was glad
    When we were a family
    But I guess it didn’t last.
    Because if everything was alright
    And I was fine
    Then I wouldn’t be here
    Wishing all the time.

  13. AB aged 16 says:

    ‘Home’

    Home is where your heart is
    You shouldn’t be locked in
    And when you need your family
    All you can do is ring.

    Bronze, silver, gold
    Depends how you behave
    Even on mobility
    The outside you still crave.

    All you need is freedom,
    But still that’s what they take.
    Every day is different
    But exactly the same.

    The next time you feel like running away
    Take a look at this and remember what I say.
    “Listen to your parents and be home for your din.”
    Home is where your heart is
    You shouldn’t be locked in.

  14. JK aged 15 says:

    ‘Sadness and Love’

    Sadness is a deep black hole in your heart and makes tears fall
    Love is a red rose that grows in the burning sun
    Happiness is the sunlight and is shiny as the stars
    Sadness is a dark hole in your heart
    Fear is locking yourself in a dark and gloomy room with no one to talk to.

  15. SH aged 17 says:

    Life hasn’t all been bad but by the time I had reached my seventeenth birthday I had already suffered enough heartache to last me a lifetime.

    My life at times has been a battle, a battle against myself, a battle I thought I was sure to lose. But I’m still here and fighting harder than ever.

    When you’re young nobody comes up to you when you’re struggling and tells you that things get harder but you will be okay so don’t give up. You just have to keep fighting through alone. Luckily after a while of pain and loneliness I found someone who completely saved my life.

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