Charity's help brings smile back to Cody's face

CODY Broughton's mum couldn't remember the last time she saw her son smile – that was until Family Action came into their lives.

A lone parent with a number of serious problems herself, Bev Parfitt admits she had very few parenting skills.

She has a 16-year-old daughter, who has now left home, but for the last four or five years it is eight-year-old Cody who has been going off the rails.

"I wouldn't let him out of my sight. I wouldn't even let him sleep in his own bed, or go swimming in case something happened to him. I used to go to school in break time to check he was OK.

"I know now that what I was doing was stupid. It just made him angry. He never smiled any more," says Bev.

Cody ended up on the child protection register and social services gave Bev a list of things she needed to do in order to improve her situation.

But Bev's state of mind meant she was unable to handle the amount of demands she felt they were putting on her and she was in severe risk of losing Cody.

"They said they were going to take him into care. I couldn't lose Cody," says Bev.

It was then that she was put in touch with Family Action, an independent charity which helps families in a variety of situations.

Project worker Les Kemp was assigned the family and he soon realised that he had a big challenge on his hands.

"Unlike some charities and organisations who are in and out in six weeks, we stick with families for as long as they need us and I realised quite quickly that this was going to take a long time.

"When I first met Cody I realised that here was a little boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders," says Les, who has a background in working with children with behavioural problems.

"I have never met such a bright little boy, but he was becoming very aggressive at home and at school. But it soon became apparent to me that it was Bev who had the problems and needed help, not just Cody."

Cody excels in maths and is on the gifted and talented register at school, but his mum's behaviour towards him and his family situation had a detrimental affect on his behaviour.

Over the last year Les has worked closely with both Bev and Cody to help them deal with their issues.

"It helps being a charity. The first thing I say to people is that they can ask me to leave if they want, unlike social services, and immediately they relax.

"Bev has needed a lot of help and support, and we had to work out why she was behaving the way she was. Then we could move forward."

Cody is now off the child protection list, although he is still under a social services supervision order.

Les, who was busy delivering a big hamper of Christmas goodies when I met him and Bev, says his work with the family is done, but he realises that Cody has become quite dependent on him. "I am the only male role model in his life and I am more than aware of the dangers of him becoming too dependent on me. But I will always be at the end of the phone.

"I have promised to take him to see Barnsley play and we also take a number of children to the pantomime every year. Last year Cody just sat there and didn't laugh. I think this year will be different."

Bev adds: "Family Action and particularly Les have been amazing. I think without him I would have lost Cody. Now I am positive about the future. They have helped me with so many things, even when I was left with no gas for five weeks Les sorted it out.

"But the main thing for me is that Cody is laughing and smiling again. I real feel that I can cope now."