*The name and photo of this child have been changed to protect her privacy.

Chloe (8) was recently admitted to a refuge that offers emergency housing for women and children fleeing from domestic violence. She found it challenging to socialise with other children and was often aggressive. Chloe rarely left the refuge and felt wary about meeting new people, both children, and adults.

She first attended our project in the summer of 2011. At first, Chloe refused to take part and would watch at a distance. She sat in the corner sipping on her water bottle and only showed interest when we had a toilet break. We tried everything, but patience was our best friend.

With encouragement and plenty of one-on-one attention, Chloe started to join in. However, she only took part if she could hold an adult’s hand. And she was very particular about which adult. So that is exactly what we did. For three hours, she ran around the pitch whilst holding an adult’s hand.

Not long after, a very young and shy child joined us. I explained to Chloe that I would now give her a very important responsibility: to hold the hand of a younger child. She instinctively let go of her adult’s hand. Chloe became very caring, protective and went as far as to share her water with her new friend. She transformed from being looked-after to looking-after.

Chloe has since grown to enjoy football and likes to look after children who are younger than her. Her caseworker explains, “I can’t thank Solidarity Sports enough for all your support and commitment to our children. We are so grateful. Chloe is happier now and enjoys mixing with other children.”