Thursday, 26 May 2011
Pictured is Catherine Emery with some of her artwork.
A schoolgirl who made headlines when she received an ASBO to curb her drunken and aggressive behaviour is looking forward to a brighter future after gaining a place at Leeds College of Art.
Catherine Emery was just 14 when she was given the antisocial behaviour order after a string of incidents often linked to excessive drinking.
Two years on Catherine has turned her life around with the help of her school, Leeds city council’s youth offending service and antisocial behaviour team – and her own passion for art.
She is currently taking GCSEs at Wetherby High School and her paintings are on exhibition at Meanwood Valley Farm. In January this year a judge was so impressed by her improved behaviour that he lifted her ASBO six months early.
After Catherine was given the ASBO staff at Wetherby High School worked closely with the youth offending service to provide her with the all-round support she needed. Catherine was taken out of school for six months and sent to a special education centre. She was also given help to manage her anger and her drinking. The school also arranged for art therapy – which proved the ultimate turning point for Catherine.
“I used to be very scared and angry with myself. I thought I was an idiot. I didn’t care about myself. I wasn’t bothered. But my youth offending worker talked to me about my feelings, and about what crime was and what could happen if I carried on.
“Once a week my art therapist came and we did drawing and painting. It was all about letting my feelings out on canvas. Art makes me happy and relaxed. Even just doodling a pattern calms me down.
“I’ve had help from the school and my mentor here too. When I got the ASBO I was really scared. It was the strictest order that I had and it meant couldn’t see some of my friends. But looking back the ASBO did me a favour. It stopped me drinking and it helped my health.
“Since I’ve been good life is great. Now I just need to get my schooling, get to college, decide who are my friends and get on with life like normal people.”
Catherine’s head of year at Wetherby High School, Peter Muddiman, said:
“We’re very proud of Catherine. At one point we did consider excluding her from school permanently but we knew that then there would be no way back for her. At times we felt we were cling on by our finger nails but she has rewarded us, she’s come a million miles and it’s great.”
Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said:
“Catherine’s achievements in what were very difficult personal circumstances are an inspiration to us all and she should be very proud of herself. Catherine received invaluable help and support from Wetherby School, its teachers and the joint working between the council’s youth services team and anti-social behaviour team. This work ensured Catherine had the boundaries and support she needed to turn her life around in the way she did. She is a credit to the school, to all those who supported her, and to her own amazing drive and determination."
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Posted by Leeds City Council press office at 17:31