Woodlands came into being in May 1999. Woodlands is the product of the vision and determination of two former local authority Team Managers, one of whom still runs the organisation today.
The shaping of Woodlands is in part based on the backgrounds and work experiences of these two managers who left their Child Care Management roles with the local authority to set up Woodlands in the Spring of 1999.
Both individuals’ working practice was influenced in their beliefs and their values were reinforced by the inception of the Children Act 1989, a piece of legislation very much relevant today.
However, practice in the field of young people with sexualised histories was in a very different place twenty years ago compared to where it is now. The approach was USA led, a confrontational approach shaming the young people into working on their behaviours. The two practitioners went along with such practice in the early days until they attended a conference and were inspired by a speaker, Alan Jenkins of New South Wales, Australia.
He asked how we could expect the young people to divulge sensitive personal information when we were continually making them feel terrible about themselves.
Relieved that such an approach was gaining ground, they applied these values and previous experienced gleaned from their careers and developed an approached coined by a member of staff as ‘The Woodlands Way’. Not exactly rocket science, the approach was built on seeing the young person as a child in their own right – treating them with dignity and working on improving their self-esteem. Consequently, on feeling better about themselves they will be less likely to undertake their learned sexualised response to negativity and adverse experiences.
At approximately the same time practice nationally, in this field of work, continued to move away from the risk based confrontational model inherited from the USA to a more positive based approach. Two respected academics in the field of work, Ward and Stewart, developed this strength-based approach into a model termed ‘The Good Lives Model’ (GLM). When they published their work circa 2003 we at Woodlands realised that we had been adopting such a model without formally recognising it. Consequently, Woodlands was, and continues to be, at the forefront of world practice!