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60 Seconds with Lynsey

Lynsey Mallinson 1
Posted on 17/04/19

Lynsey coordinates and delivers Silkworms, our children’s programme and the Silkworms support group as well as working with younger clients living with addiction and in need of support on a one to one basis:

1). What does Silkworth mean to you?

Silkworth is about hope and recovery; helping people take back control of themselves, their lives and their families. 

2). You run the Silkworms Children's programme - can you tell us a little more about that please?

Silkworms is a programme designed for children struggling to come to terms with a family member or close relative affected by addiction. We create a safe space for children of all ages to learn more about addiction, its impact on the addict and the children and their families.  It offers the opportunity for children to talk about the difficult emotions and feelings evoked by addiction as well as meeting others in similar situations so they don’t feel so alone. We also look at how each member of the group can celebrate their strengths and take care of themselves. We combine arts and crafts, games and activities, drawing, writing and music and, although a serious and painful subject, we have a lot of fun too!

3). How involved are the parents/carers in this programme?

Referrals can come from families directly or schools, Children Services or other professionals. I always meet the children and the relevant family member, carer or social/family support worker to tell them more about the programme before inviting the child to join a group if they'd like to. In some cases, we invite the family members in recovery along at the end of the programme to hear about what the children have done and what they’ve learnt and sometimes we invite others supporting the children depending on individual circumstances. The nature of the programme means there is a lot to process and this opens up communication within families and among friends as the children gain a better understanding of their situation. Invariably more questions are then asked at home and discussions begin to happen to help children make further sense of things. In this respect Silkworms is very much just the start of the journey.

The programmes are flexible and we run small groups of the same ages so we can tailor content accordingly. While experiencing similar situations and feelings, we appreciate every child's background and understanding is unique to them.

4). What would you say to a child who is thinking of joining the programme but is nervous?

New situations and meeting people for the first time can be daunting for anyone so it’s understandable and ok to be nervous. I think those attending are actually really brave, wanting to share and learn about such a difficult and emotive subject and everyone’s new and nervous together. 

It’s a very gentle programme though and people can share as much or as little as they like and no one is forced to do anything they don’t want to. All the other children who’ve attended and been asked this say “do it!” and everyone’s wanted it to be longer than the three or four days it’s run for so why not come along and give it a go? 

5). How do you find your role with Silkworms? 

It’s a real privilege to do the work I do and I love being with the groups. Everyone seems to hugely value the time and space they’re given to speak and be heard. 

I think those I work with are incredible; having been through so much and having to cope with such a lot yet so willing and able to share their stories, thoughts and feelings and to offer support to one another in such an open way. 

We play games and laugh a lot and seeing new friendships form and grow is great. Helping children learn addiction is not their fault and not something they can change, understanding this is so important so they can walk away hopefully feeling lighter and brighter.

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