In our SOHK for Schools programmes, we work with children who are at risk of permanent exclusion every week, for up to three years. The support our coaches, psychologists and behavioural specialists provide, prove to be vital for these children, whose life chances can decrease significantly if permanently excluded from school. 

Permanently excluded children are 10 times more likely to develop a mental health condition, 4 times more likely to enter poverty and chances of offending increase by 50%.

During one of our SOHK for schools courses in Wales, we worked with one boy called Ali*.

When we first met Ali, he was very hyperactive and badly behaved in lessons, often shouting out and being verbally aggressive towards other pupils. It was really difficult for us to keep him focused and engaged in SOHK, however, we were aware the school could not handle Ali's behaviour and had previously warned him he was going to be permanently excluded.

Once we mentored him for a few weeks, developing a trusting relationship, he opened up one day to tell his story…

He told us he was born in Cardiff and lived with his mum, Dad and older sister. Ali told us his dad was not living with him, we later found out he was serving a long-term prison sentence for domestic violence, against Ali's mother. Ali’s mum, who had suffered terrible abuse, found it difficult to cope and turned to drink for some solace, ultimately leading to an addiction.

Two years ago, Ali returned home from school one day, he was alone and walked upstairs, calling out for his mum. He found her in the bathroom, passed out on the floor, covered in blood because she had fell and hit her head on the basin. No one was around to help Ali but he called for an ambulance, waiting for the paramedics to turn up, comforting his mother. Unfortunately the paramedics were unable to save her and Ali, a young child, witnessed his mum die in front of him. 

Social services moved Ali to live with his older sister’s birth father, but he was unable to cope with two children and little support, which meant Ali had to be moved again. He now lives with his grandparents, where he is safe and becoming more settled.

In partnership with his school, we arranged ongoing counselling for Ali and created a ‘safe place’ for him to go when he is finding it difficult to manage his emotions. We have seen huge improvements in his behaviour, as he is now much calmer and doing really well in school. Permanent exclusion is no longer a risk for Ali.

Since we started working with Ali, he has improved his attendance significantly (especially with SOHK after-school sessions!), punctuality and has far less negative behaviour logs. Ali is completely dedicated to School of Hard Knocks, and above all feels part of something incredibly special – a team.

Ali’s story is just one in so many that we could tell on any given day. Support from people like you, who believe in our mission and understand that life is not a level playing field is absolutely vital for us to sustain our work. This is why we are asking for you to become our friend. You will receive regular updates about the amazing progress we make with children, just like Ali.

For just £3 a month you can really change a life. 

*name changed to protect child’s identity