"I'm not sure what I was expecting from the Porcupine Programme. To be honest I probably had low expectations, but wow, how wrong I was!
Our daughter really struggled in school and suffered with terrible anxiety. Although she was really talented in some subjects, she was often removed from them to focus on her weaker subjects. This really upset her and lead to spiralling health issues as she always felt surrounded by negativity and under-achievement. The coaching turned all that around. Her coach wasn't interested in dwelling on the things she was weak at, she focused entirely on her strengths.
I loved reading about our daughter's strengths as they were not your usual strengths, like 'this person is good at art or drawing,' they were far more personal and descriptive. We learnt a lot about our daughter that we kind of knew but could never put into words. It explained a lot too. It really helped us to adapt our parenting a little, just by approaching things slightly differently, and we realised that we received a much better response!
I think our daughter knows herself so much better after this programme. It's like a light has been turned on. Her confidence in her ability has really improved and for the first time ever, she has a very clear idea of what kind of person she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life. Subsequently, she's happier and more proactive in her efforts to get where she wants to be. It's a delight to watch!
I thought the CV would just contain her strengths and qualifications but it was much more than that. Her action plan was really practical and included things like an application to a charity for help with her anxiety, additional lessons with an illustrator outside of school, a visit to an illustration department and meetings with alumni students, the purchase of small learning aids and a plan to prepare a portfolio for university. It was like every little step was a step further towards her goal. I can understand why they call it a 'living CV' because it really does feel like a moving, fluid plan.
I can't thank the Porcupine Collective enough for the work they did with our daughter. They have reignited her passions, given her hope of a prosperous career and an independent life and brought her back to us!"
- Parent, 2018
An illustration drawn by the young person
"I contacted the Porcupine Collective to see if they would work with our son who was at risk of exclusion from school. He was struggling to stay engaged during lessons, complaining of boredom and spending more time in isolation than learning. We were starting to despair as our son seemed to be surrounded by negativity. When we met with the Porcupine Collective it was a breath of fresh air. They could immediately see our son was struggling to cope with the rigid behaviour policies and school expectations, yet rather than judge our son, they focused on his strengths and suggested some practical ways to work with the school to limit distractions and improve his learning.
Unfortunately, our son was permanently excluded from school before he could start the Young Person’s Porcupine Programme, but they did not leave our side. Instead they immediately offered to help by facilitating restorative practice with an accredited restorative practitioner. Sadly, our son’s school declined to engage with restorative practice, but we certainly benefited from this insightful support.
The Porcupine Collective helped us to appeal the permanent exclusion and remained hugely supportive of our son, who they insisted was not a failure. Continuously they reminded us of his potential even when things seemed so bleak.
We did not win our appeal and our son was transferred to alternative education, however, the Porcupine Collective continued to support our family and helped us to see the positives in the situation. Our son may not be in mainstream education now, but he is a different child. He is happy, communicative and eager to learn. As soon as the pressure and expectations were removed our son returned to us. We are far more positive about the future now than when our child was continuously the focus of negative attention.
The Porcupine Collective did not abandon us when it became obvious our situation had changed. Rather, they worked with us to help our son transition through a very difficult time. Throughout our engagement with the Porcupine Collective, they remained far more concerned about our son’s happiness and health, even encouraging us to access further support. I’m not sure we would have pushed so hard to access help if it was not for the Porcupine Collective’s guidance and knowledge. Thanks to them, we are now awaiting an assessment and have some wrap-around care in place. Our son is doing really well and has even reconnected with his favourite hobbies.
We are enjoying this time without pressure and stress. The Porcupine Collective have emphasised the importance of allowing our family and our son the time to recover. When the time is right, we have no doubt that the Porcupine Collective will empower our son to reach his full potential doing exactly what he loves."
- Parent 2019