Approaching half of deliberately set fires in Britain are started by children and teenagers. This film follows fire service teams as they deal with some of the young firestarters.
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THIS PROGRAMME CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE
I went into my bedroom and I just remember opening the door
and just having this heat and smoke hit me.
The room was engulfed in flames.
'At the age of 11, melting plastic toys in his bedroom,
'Jamie set a fire that burnt down the top floor of his house.'
I seen a filing cabinet. I put a little bit of petrol on it and lit it.
Then shut the window. I was laughing, running up the road.
'At 15, Dean set light to his classroom.
'The fire spread and destroyed most of his school.'
I had, like, a really horrible feeling inside me.
It was like butterflies and feeling sick as you walk around.
I was like, "I did that."
I couldn't believe it. Not my lad. That's what I thought. Not my lad.
What were your immediate thoughts?
Uh-oh. What have I done?
'Every day, hundreds of kids like Jamie and Dean
'are putting themselves and their families at risk by playing with fire.
'This is the story of three of them and the attempts being made to stop them before it's too late.'
Well, it started off really with...paper. Paper.
Bed, bedding, books. Then toilet paper.
-And then it was my kitchen.
-What, the whole kitchen?
No, it was my kitchen work surface. I left my lighters in the kitchen and he messed around with them.
I woke up to my smoke alarms going off at half five in the morning.
Ran to the kitchen and there was a ball of fire on my work surface.
-When was this?
-This was a good few months ago now.
-Was the kitchen fire the last thing?
-He's been lighting his mattress, putting burn holes in his mattress.
-In HIS mattress?
When do you think was the most recent incident of fire setting?
Em, last Sunday.
This is where he sat and burned holes in his mattress.
They've started going through.
-Is that like him slashing it?
-This is where he cut it in temper.
Obviously, I don't want to replace it and buy him a new one
when he can't look after the one he's got. So I am worried, really.
-Is that another...?
-That's where he's burnt the sheet and he's drawn all over it.
I think sometimes he's trying to get out why, obviously, the way he's feeling.
But he doesn't talk to anyone. I say if he doesn't want to talk, then just write on a bit of paper
how he's feeling or what's bothering him and we can talk about it, but he doesn't.
He tends to bottle a lot of things up rather than talk to anyone about it.
You helped yourself to a yoghurt?
Feet out of that.
Come on. The TV's going on for you. Quick.
Let's go. Come on, then.
Come on. Let's go downstairs.
-Do you think you've got a pretty special mum?
I think you do, too.
-And do you give her an easy time?
-That's what Mum has to handle every day after school.
-Do you think it's quite hard for her being a mum?
What's it like being a 10-year-old?
-Em, a bit hard because you've got a lot of responsibility on you.
What kind of responsibility?
Like sometimes you have to take your little sister into bed and I don't like doing that.
You have to be...
back home on time. And I don't like doing that.
Cleaning out the litter tray. I do not like that cos it stinks.
..making sure my mum's all right.
-And do you understand why she might be a bit worried about the fire setting stuff?
cos she might wonder if one day if it happens I might set the whole house on fire.
Is that something you worry about as well?
But you're not sure why you do it?
Good afternoon. Joanna Foster speaking. Hi, Neil, how are you?
She said that there was a fire setting incident on Friday. He set fire to his mattress.
'Most Fire Brigades have special units which work with kids who are setting fires
-'and help families understand why this is happening.'
-And what did he use?
'The London unit is headed by Joanna Foster, a specialist in child and adolescent mental health.'
All right. OK, how old's the child?
I take it she didn't say anything like this had happened before?
'90% of the kids they help never set fires again.'
-OK, I'll call you...
-'They take on over 30 new cases every month.'
This is my bedroom.
This is a burn mark on the floor.
There's a little burn mark on the floor
where I set fire to all the matches in my room, which wasn't very good.
I got an aerosol can and sprayed it, like, round here.
And then lit it.
And then it was just going up.
This is the garden.
And then there's a burn mark on there as well.
-So is it just that you do it quite continuously?
Like other people drink and smoke.
I just, like, set fires to things.
And can you describe to me what you like about fire?
I don't know. I just think it's, like,
I like taking control of, like, how it will end up.
So, like, I can take control if I wanted my room to burn down.
Or I can take control if I just want it to be a little fire that I can just stomp out
whenever I want to. I think that's what it is.
'I have been thinking it's my fault. I've made her this way.
'I've brought it upon her. I'm always thinking,
'"What if...? Did I...?
'"What if...? Did I...?"'
If someone said to me, "Yes, it's your fault,"
I'd think I'd failed as a mother. I'd failed as a human being.
-Do you understand why your mum is worried?
-Yeah, cos fire's not exactly the safest thing to be playing with.
That's right. That's good. That's a start, at least.
One thing that Mum did say was you actually find fire fascinating.
-Do you think Andy and I find fire fascinating?
That's the first thing you've got wrong. We work in the Fire Service because fire IS fascinating.
It's OK to like fire and be fascinated by it.
But what we need is the difference between, "That was interesting,"
and actually playing with it.
-Are we ready then, Li?
-You've got to make a move. Come on.
-Hello, Liam. That seat there is your one.
-Especially for you.
Let's draw... Yeah, faces and what's on our mind.
-I cannot draw good hair.
-What's not good about that?
That's your mum. Can't be that bad.
Is that on your mind? Why?
So I'm wondering why, Liam, why have you set fires before?
-I don't know, but there's one where I burnt my mattress.
-Burnt your mattress? What happened there?
I was annoyed because my mum was telling me off so many times.
So I went up into my room
and I set fire to it,
-but I only did a little bit and made holes.
So just that one time? Or have there been other times?
-There's been no other times.
-No other times.
So you say that Mum's worried when you've played with fire before
and I know how you felt before, setting a fire. You were annoyed with Mum.
-How do you feel afterwards when you've done it?
Cos it might... It might set alight.
Scared. Is it a nice feeling to be scared?
-It's not, is it? No.
So we need to get Liam in a place where he's not scared
because he's not playing with fire any more. Do you think we'll be able to do it?
-I think so.
I think we can.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with B.
I don't... Blue?
-I give up.
-I can't see a bee!
-But I can!
-But I can!
Why is it so difficult when I ask you to do something that you can't do it straight away?
-Cos I have to think of where I put it.
-D'you know, don't bother.
She might need to learn to use a washing machine.
-I'm bringing them, Mum!
-I've put it on now. Too late.
-What do you mean?!
I put it on. You can do your own laundry.
-Oh, you're so...! You tell me to bring the laundry in, yeah?
-How long ago?
-No, no, no.
And then you go and put it on. I was bringing it! Why do you...?
How long have I been at home? How many times have I asked you?
Not when it suits you, Hulya.
For God's sake.
Oh, God. I'm not handling things very well.
-Is that a typical discussion?
-Yeah. That's how it goes.
-And when I end up walking away, she says I'm right.
-Did I say that?
-No, you do tend to say that.
-But did I say that now?
-Funny how you can hear what I say,
but when I ask you to do something I have to call you 20 times.
You're 40 years old. Don't act like a child.
I just want to wring her neck when she's like that.
-Would you like to get on with her better?
-How do you think that can happen?
-I think we both need to, like, calm down with arguments and stuff
-and, like, understand each other more.
-Would you like to be able to speak to her more
-and for her to chat to you more?
-Yeah, but like...
I'd like to talk to her more, but not nosying in each other's business, like.
Obviously, it's her duty to, like, know what I'm up to and stuff,
but there's some things that you don't really tell your parents.
She said, "For God's sake, do I have to tell you everything?"
I said, "Yeah, because I'd like to know what's going on in your life and for you not to keep any secrets."
I know she's 14, going on 15
and she is going to have boyfriends.
But she's still my baby.
And I'd like to keep her innocence as much as I can.
I've always said I had such a strict upbringing, I'd never do that with my kids,
but no mother wants her child to get into trouble.
I just think it's because she had a strict upbringing
and I think she's a bit, like, not ashamed, but if our family in Turkey found out, like,
that I go out and, like, stuff and that,
I don't know. My nan doesn't think that it's right I go out.
She thinks I should stay at home and help with the cooking and cleaning. She said that to me.
And my mum just stood there and not said anything.
I think deep down that's what my mum wants me to do. Stay home and help.
Are you quite hard on yourself? Do you set yourself high targets?
Yeah, it depends. It depends if it's something I'm quite passionate about
then I'd have quite high targets.
So that's good to have that passion,
but what we can't have is...
the source of making you feel better or responding to that is to set fires.
And this leads me into, Hulya, the part of your mum's questionnaire,
Mum said you get angry sometimes, especially with teachers
or your mum or nan. And sometimes you're cruel to your brother.
But what she also talked about was Mum thinks... that you self-harm.
-Yeah, I do.
-OK. What do you do?
Just like...cut my arms, really. That's about it.
-What do you use to cut your arms?
-Just anything sharp I can find.
And is this something that you do at the moment?
Yeah, but I haven't done it, like, I haven't done it recently.
It's been, like, a couple of weeks since I've done it.
What reasons have you self-harmed before?
I just like... It could be an argument and my mum said something
and it's just made me feel really bad about myself.
It's usually my nan as well. She can make me feel really self-conscious or bad about myself.
It could just be a little thing someone said that could be a joke, but I take it seriously.
But I'd laugh about it, but inside be quite hurt.
Something's not good and that's your way of coping.
We need to think of ways that you can cope with it that's not harmful to you.
Please, welcome back into your own living room.
It's actually been, I'm sure, for you
quite a prolonged session.
So don't be surprised if afterwards, even if you don't think you do, you might want a great big hug
or something nice to chill out to do.
-You know what she said about giving your mum a big hug?
-That's not gonna happen.
-I don't do hugs.
On the rare occasion.
I just... I just don't see the point.
Sometimes do you wish you could give her a hug?
-Not all the time, but sometimes.
-Do you think she wants to give you a big hug?
-She's probably too busy
cleaning up the kitchen or...
When Joanna left and she said that maybe Hulya would need a big hug,
-is this something that doesn't happen in this house?
Only because she really...
I just don't like hugs, really. They're a bit claustrophobic, actually.
-So what are you playing at?
-One game of pool, two games of darts.
Can I do the break?
That'll be the one. Take your time.
-Oh, wow! Lots.
-'Ryan has been setting fires since the age of seven
-'and has recently been referred to Somerset and Devon Fire Service.'
-Oh, come on! That's cheating.
You're dead lucky.
Cheating little shit.
I set my mum's coat on fire,
I set my bed sheets on fire, I set my posters on fire,
I set the floor...sort of melted something into the floor.
I set boxes on fire and that's it.
-Do you feel that you were in control of that fire?
-And do you feel you would still be?
So how would you feel if you had a box of matches or a lighter
and you were just watching TV and you dropped it on your bed?
-How would you feel if it went up and you couldn't get out?
-I'd jump out the window.
-I don't reckon I'll get hurt by fire.
-No, Mum, shut up.
-Why do you think that?
-I just don't think I'll get hurt by fire.
So this is like in a big aircraft hangar.
And it's a room that has obviously been constructed
and the fire starts on the settee. The clock's rolling.
-So by about a minute now...
-The sofa's on fire.
-..you've got quite a big fire there.
I would say you'd struggle to put that out, even with an extinguisher.
If you look at that lampshade on the shelf at the back...
-..that will start to melt soon and smoke.
Now we're really getting some heat going in the room. Several hundred degrees.
Even if you weren't being burnt, you wouldn't be able to stay in there. Two and a half minutes.
And then you get the flame coming across and the smoke.
-How do you think you'd get out of that?
-I know I'd get out.
-I would get out.
-You think so?
-I'd jump out my window.
-Everyone thinks maybe they can, but when it's...
-Yeah, the heat.
When you're not expecting it.
-Could you see how one of your fires could start something like that?
-Yeah. My curtains.
-That could have happened.
So how do you feel, safety-wise?
-And do you feel that you can trust Ryan?
-I do trust him.
It's just if I'm going out, I wonder, "Have I left a burner on?"
-If you wanted to light one of those, you could find a way.
-The toaster. I'd light a bit of tissue.
If I say I don't want dinner, I don't bloody want dinner! You don't listen, do you?
It's OK. This is every day. Honestly, every day.
-Are you feeling quite frustrated?
-Yeah. Mum's really annoying.
I hate her.
-What is it that you find so annoying?
My mum, really.
What do you like about your bedroom?
Is this where you come to escape?
-You tell me you're bored.
-What do you think you could do to be less bored?
There's nothing to do in this house.
There's nothing to do in Ilfracombe.
-How does it make you feel when you've done the fires?
-A little less bored.
-How long does that last?
-About 10 minutes.
Then I just get bored again.
Yesterday, the chicken tikka and rice. I was quite impressed, actually.
-What did she do yesterday?
-I asked her to chop up some chicken breasts so I can make a curry.
She took it upon herself to make a chicken tikka with rice.
First time I think she's done something really selfless, which is nice. And I felt proud of her.
And I did say that to her. And her talking about not getting hugs,
I gave her a hug and said, "I love you. Thank you."
I don't know whether she believed me. That's another story. But yeah.
It's weird because when you give a child a hug when they've been misbehaving for such a long time,
it's like they're floating.
Their manner changes. I can't explain it.
She was really different. Like floating on air. I don't know. Really different.
But after an hour, it changed cos she got in a ruckus with her brother.
So it was nice to have that one hour of "nice", niceness.
TELEPHONE RINGS Good afternoon, Joanna Foster.
-Hi, Joanna, it's Nuran.
-Hello. How are you?
-Well, I'm OK.
-We had a little incident on Saturday.
-OK, what happened?
-She's done a sparkler at home.
-She lit a sparkler.
-And she dropped it in front of the kitchen on the carpet.
-So I've got a massive burn on there.
And she didn't have the decency to phone and tell me. And she just couldn't give me any reasons.
She said, "I just did it." Well, she apologised, but it means nothing.
I'm shocked. I'm not as enraged as you because it's not my home, but I am really shocked.
She'd been doing so well.
-So, Hulya, I know there was an incident.
I found some sparklers.
I found some sparklers...
I was like, "Look what I've found!"
And then I lit it.
And then...I kind of, like,
dropped it. And it kind of burnt the carpet.
She was, like, standing there.
And then...she was kind of holding it and it just dropped
and she just stared at it and was like, "Oh, my God!"
-How do you drop a sparkler?
-I don't know. I was waving it about and then it dropped.
I know I'm laughing, but it's not funny.
I'm really angry with myself.
Ryan? You getting ready now?
I left you a bit later.
-'As well as starting fires, Ryan has been truanting for the past few years.'
Ryan, get ready, please. Ryan, it's quarter to nine. Ryan?
Hurry up, please.
-You've got to get up! Don't keep swearing at me!
I tell you, stay on bed all day and don't bloody come out!
He'll just use any excuse he can so he doesn't have to go to school.
All the time. Honestly, he does. He does not want to go to school.
I don't know. I'd to turn around and ask them to put him into boarding school so he'd have to go to school.
THEY ARGUE Give me the hockey stick!
Give me the hockey stick! You're in deep trouble, boy.
See you later!
-You are going to school.
-Cos I'm not.
-Cos I'm fucking not!
-Did he get away with it?
-Did he just get away with it?
-I put him in a taxi.
He said he'd belt one of the teachers. Honestly, he did.
-He won't do it.
-He'll chuck a chair at them, knock it over. He does things like that.
If Ryan was mine, he would be six foot under. I wouldn't take none of that.
He would be having the hidings. I don't care what anyone says.
Sometimes in Anna's case, she would tell the children off.
But five minutes later she would laugh and joke with them over it.
-I've told her that's where she's going wrong. Is that right?
If you tell a child off, you don't sit and laugh with them because then they think it's all right.
I'm not laughing at what they've done. I'd joke with them. I can't hold a grudge, can I?
Well, I can't.
What do you expect will happen? Will he walk through the door?
No, he'll be down here by 20 to 11. He'll be back by about 20 to 11.
And I'm usually, give or take 10 minutes, right.
-And that happens most days?
I am doing everything I possibly can to get him to go to school and it's really, really difficult
cos he just doesn't want to go. He's always had a problem with school.
I think he's afraid he might miss out on something if he's not at home watching me, if that makes any sense.
-Do you think he's quite protecting of you?
-I don't know why. I can take care of myself.
Everybody says he's a cling-on. He clings on. I don't know why.
I don't ask him to follow me. Do you not think that's a bit strange?
I've always said it's a thing called separation anxiety. That's what I said years ago.
He used to hang on to me anywhere I went and he'd kick and scream when I'd gone.
I honestly don't know why. He'd stiffen up and go rigid. Really, really bad.
-He's never had a father figure.
-Do you think that's an issue?
-It's just a fact.
He's been brought up in a house with all women. Me, my sisters when they come down,
his sisters and stuff. I think that's what it is, I really do.
And he's fighting for control. He's younger than anybody here.
How can I put it? I think sometimes he feels pushed away or pushed aside.
But it's not so. It's just how he is.
I don't want it to feel like a summons, but there's a reason why you're here. How did your mum react?
She's not very happy, obviously. I thought she'd be a bit more, like, kind of shouty,
but she kind of... she wasn't like that at all, really.
-I think she was, like, more disappointed than angry.
We're disappointed, too. We thought we were making such good progress
and to have that kind of setback is a real shame. What we'll do first
is there's a series of cards with things written on them.
All of them may be reasons why you play with fire. So think for a moment
and which of those do you think have applied to you at any stage?
-And kind of...
-Kind of curious. OK.
So we've got three things - curious, bored and to get Mum's attention.
over to you.
Somehow it seems like Mum's a bit busy with other things, other people.
I kind of have to bring the attention back down to me.
If that makes any sense.
-It makes a lot of sense.
-Even if it's bad attention.
After that, she'll just be, like, putting a bit more attention on me,
so she can see, like, what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.
So does this incident, the sparklers, come under this category, do you think?
-You think Mum's going to have to find out.
-But you're thinking that's not so bad after all.
-Is that it?
-When I found out that my mum had found out,
I didn't want to go home, but I was kind of looking forward to it so we could talk.
Do you know what it is that you did want to talk to your mum about? Was it something specific?
-Do you get much time to talk with your mum?
She's always busy with other things. We barely get to talk.
-Hello, Ryan. How are you doing?
-Wait and talk.
-Mum, I'm going! Just fuck off!
-Stop being such a fucking...!
-Going to talk to us, Ryan?
It's difficult now because he's done a runner.
It's OK. He does this all the time. It's what you call attention seeking, all the time, constantly.
It's all to do with the same problem. He's frustrated,
he's got no outlet that's productive. All he can do is smash things up and get angry.
He makes out like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He's no angel.
-It's only me. He's horrible to me constantly.
-You certainly, I think, sometimes wind each other up.
Yeah, we do. It's more him than me.
-Yeah, but I mean... because he's the child.
-Yeah. And I shouldn't act like a child.
'It's not unusual for kids to go through a phase of resisting the Fire Service sessions.
'The policy is to bide time until the children are ready.'
-Do you not like it when people try to help you?
-You do like it?
-I know I won't get nowhere in life. I'm not bothered.
-That's not true, is it?
-Yeah, I think so.
-Ryan, I know that's not true.
EXPLOSION FROM COMPUTER GAME
-So you've given up on your life already at the age of 14?
-Do you feel guilty that people do things for you and you don't...?
-No, cos it's their fault.
It's their job, but I'm not bothered. They're wasting their time, basically.
This is a girl who wants things to get better. She wants a better relationship.
We know she wants to stop fire setting.
-Even if you think she's grinning and bearing it, she doesn't have to.
-Sometimes I have my doubts.
But I suppose I'm speaking as her mother. I know how she is and her temperament.
I'm probably seeing the worst and not the good in her.
That's unfortunately part of her testing her relationship with you, her identity.
I think Hulya needs to... be allowed to be the teenager
that she has to be.
I've worked with a lot of young people, a lot of teenagers,
and we often kind of believe that they are doing what they do to get attention from someone.
It's a very powerful way to do it. Hulya's the first person
who has said to me quite directly, "I do it because I want attention from Mum."
What also stood out in terms of being that direct was she said
even if that's bad attention.
This will be difficult to hear.
I'm actually quite surprised about the attention.
She gets my attention when she tries to self-harm and what have you,
but to actually do the two, it's really, as a mum, hard to comprehend.
It really is.
She wants a good relationship with you. Of course she does.
And she wants that mother-daughter time.
You've got to learn, both of you, to be in each other's company
without it being warring. So don't get disheartened if she says, "I don't want to do that."
Because maybe she doesn't want to, like you, think, "I don't want any argument.
"I'm going to resist." And that's where you as the adult have to say, "Come on, let's do it."
What's your relationship now with your mum, for example?
It's OK. It has its moments.
And I know Hulya loves her grandmother, but as she's got older she's resenting her more
because my mum tends to poke her nose in where it's not wanted.
And we definitely think that Nan especially doesn't give her freedom or permission to be a young,
in many ways western girl. And the conflict between trying to keep you happy,
trying to keep her nan happy and she did say that...
there's times when almost she wants you to be on her side.
She said, "Mum sits there and just laughs."
I just...I don't know what to say about that.
I'm in a world...
in my family thing,
where I try and please everyone, but I don't seem to have pleased my daughter and that's horrible.
There's something to be said about you cannot please all the people all the time. It's impossible
because somewhere along the line somebody will feel compromised and she does have issues of self-esteem
and self-worth, which is where the self-harm comes from.
-I just walked in from the shop and you've started again.
-You bought chocolate and I told you not to!
-You fucking did!
-You don't have to tell me what to buy and what not to buy! If I choose to get it, I will.
-Just because I didn't get it at the time you said. I'll get it another time.
-Shut the fuck up.
-I'm not having it.
-I've done it. You will have it.
Why is he so angry about this chocolate?
If things aren't done at a time when he wants it done, he'll go off.
For instance, when I open this egg, if it's not just how he likes it, he'll go mental.
Totally mental. He'll go something chronic.
-That's why I put three on.
-What do you do to stop him from doing that?
I ignore it. There's nothing you can do until he calms down himself. He just goes crazy.
Ryan, what's going on?
Why have you got so angry?
What's going on? Are you OK?
-Why is he so angry?
-He's angry at me and I don't know why. It's not my fault his dad's not there.
I really don't know. I think, in my heart and soul,
if he'd had his dad there all through his life, I don't think he'd be like that.
I can't blame the situation that his dad's not there and stuff, but that's what I think.
-Does he talk about his dad ever?
When you mention his dad, he says, "Don't talk about my dad."
He goes off on one. So we don't talk about him.
Has he ever got emotional?
I think he's a bit like myself. I never get emotional.
I think his emotions are all bottled up. That's why he's angry all the time. I'm sure of it.
-Do you think you bottle up your emotions?
-This is not about me, though, is it?
-Yeah, but I'm just asking you.
-I do, yes. I do very much. Yes.
It's very hard to let people know exactly what I think, how I feel and what have you.
I'm a fairly strange person as well.
The last time when we were here and we were drawing together, do you remember?
I said that my job was a very special job
because I've got to keep you safe.
And you said you were going to help me with that.
And do you think you've done it?
Hmm, I think so too.
And what does it feel like to know you've helped me with that special job?
Because I have to say it makes me feel brilliant.
Is that how big a face is...
a mouth is when you smile?
Well, it feels like it.
I'm feeling so happy, Liam.
And how are you feeling?
-And what's making you happy, Liam?
-That I've kept a promise and I'm getting more attention.
I'm so proud of you. That's fantastic. Really, really good.
I know I say it a lot. That's because I mean it. I'm so chuffed. That's terrific. You've done really well.
How do you feel it's going so far with the Fire Service? Is it what you expected?
It's going really well. Liam really enjoys it and he's opening up really well, which is good.
He was setting fire to his mattresses cos he was cross with me
over blaming him for things that Holly had done and he got upset.
Sometimes he feels a bit left out
and that I don't pay enough attention to him.
That's why he starts setting fire to things
and kicking off and just basically saying to me that he needs a bit more attention.
It's good that he can actually talk to me about everything now.
'Two weeks after walking out of his session,
'Ryan has started attending meetings with the fire service again.'
Kiss Mum, kiss.
-See you later.
-Love you. See ya.
-Ryan, how long are you going to be?
-What time do you want me back?
-In a minute.
-Listen, I want you back by two.
-What time is it now?
-It's half twelve.
-I said two!
-Three o'clock, thanks, Mum!
-Do you think that your mums are strict enough with you?
I reckon so. I don't know about Jason's mum because I don't live with her, but...
My mum's a bit soft with me.
-I reckon my mum could be a bit stricter, but...
Sometimes you can get real frustrated like the other day.
I don't know, probably I've got a short fuse, really.
I just get really aggravated and angry really easy.
-Is that something that you try and stop?
-Yeah, I don't like shouting at Mum.
My mum does everything herself. She never had a man do anything. She does it all herself.
When I offer my mum help, she goes, "I ain't had a man for 22 years and I don't need one now."
Even though my mum's got a boyfriend, she'll still do all the fixing stuff herself.
Our swing outside broke. She'll fix that herself soon. So...
-Do you feel quite proud of your mum?
She's done well with us, I reckon.
Do you understand why she takes the fire safety quite seriously?
Yeah, cos I could kill everyone.
I like these, look.
A bit Cheryl Cole.
Hulya, can you see me wearing them?
You really are so frustrating.
What about this, look, for you?
-You'd walk down the street with me wearing that?
-Yeah. "Look at my mum, she's so hot!"
We talk about day-to-day things, like silly things, and make a joke,
but when it comes to serious talk, she doesn't want to talk about it.
She just shuts away and I think she doesn't like being questioned either.
When I start questioning her, she gets a bit...
Well, she shuts down, really.
Do you think that's fair, Hulya?
Do you admit it?
Thank you for admitting that. That's nice.
You just don't... You don't ask appropriately or you're always in a mood, something like that.
Sorry about that, but I thought I was asking the right questions
when I was asking when you come in, "What's the matter, why are you upset?"
I don't know. I'm going wrong somewhere.
You're just... You're just in your face, like.
You think you ask calmly, yeah?
In your head, it's all calm, but in real life, it's just like...
You're like... It sounds really rude, but you're just like an animal let out of its cage.
I'm just saying that's the way it is.
-So I need to be tamed?
All right. We've got a lot of work to do, but we'll get there.
-Do you think you'll get there,
It's a long road. That's all I can say.
Well, you know what? Every road is a long road and at the end of it, you come to a destination.
And how are you feeling, both of you, about the fire setting and the self-harming?
As a mother, it's distressing.
But I know that we're going to work through it and get through it.
I'm hoping. I don't think she's done anything silly in a while
which I'm very proud of and happy about.
What about you, Hulya?
I've found different... I've found different strategies
to, um...take out my anger.
Just like shutting my door.
Turn up the volume on my music.
And just ignoring everything my mum says.
That's a good strategy.
It's better than...
hurting yourself, anyway.
You know I love you, don't you?
Good. Keep that in your mind.
So every time we sort of agree to disagree, always have that in the back of your mind.
I might do things because I love you.
It makes me proud that I've got a 14-year-old who's as tall as me
that I can just hug and say, "I'm proud of you and I love you."
-You don't do that enough.
-I know in the past I've had difficulty doing that,
but lately, I'm finding it easier.
Can we compare?
I think that's near enough the same colour, isn't it?
-No, mine's better.
-Thank you ever so much, ladies.
-I felt very, very pampered today, thank you. Have a nice evening. Bye-bye.
Come here, you!
-I've had a good day. Have you?
I think it's been a good week.
These are actually quite good.
'Having taken advice from the Fire Service, Anna has been attending parenting classes.'
I always say, "Will you come down now?" Or, "Can you come down?"
Instead of "I need you to come down", which makes more sense.
Instead of saying, "You really piss me off," say, "I'm really angry when you do that. Can you not change it?"
This "smiley" chart...
That's for mood management which is very good.
I make him a set of cards as well, so if he's in a mood, he'll have it on his jacket or jumper, so I'll know.
I don't bother talking to him because if you talk to him when he's in one of his moods,
it's effing and blinding and "leave me alone", blah-blah-blah.
'And Ryan has agreed to make more of an effort to go to school.'
Are you ready, Ry?
Just a minute. Wait, wait, wait!
Do you feel safer about setting fire since being with the Fire Service?
-Do you feel like you're less likely to do it?
And how did you feel on Friday?
-What happened on Friday?
-You went to school.
-Yeah, it was all right.
-Did you feel quite proud of yourself?
I went along to five lessons.
-Do you think you're feeling more positive about your future at the moment?
What do you think it would take for you to feel more positive about your future?
Stay in the school for a whole month. No, like a whole year or something.
-Can you imagine that ever happening?
-Do you think your relationship with your mum is getting better?
I'm becoming a bit better at school, better at home.
Do you think you're growing up?
I don't know.
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011
Email [email protected]
Approaching half of deliberately set fires in Britain are started by children and teenagers. And fire services are running more and more intervention schemes for thousands of young people every year. This film follows three of them. The charred mattress of ten year old Liam, the brazen fire-fascination of Ryan and the random acts of bedroom firesetting by fourteen year old North London girl, Hulya, all represent different challenges for the Fire Sevice counsellors, who are determined not just to stop the firesetting, but also to understand the anger and frustration that underpins it.