About Steven Russell

Steven Russell

Steven Russell, is the founder of Elements SEMH Support. As a child, he lived with 9 foster families, was placed into two children’s homes and attended 5 schools. With this in mind, he decided to turn his “Pain to Purpose” by creating Elements.

As a child, growing up in the care system, Steven has become an effective communicator with children living in care.

His authentic style enables him to build rapport with children and young people with ease.

Combining the elements of his professional and personal experiences to create “Elements SEMH Support”. Steven has been able to inspire hundreds of children to become more optimistic about their lives despite their adverse experiences.

Steven’s Story: Pain 2 Purpose

My name is Steven Anthony Russell, I was born on July 30th, 1985.

My mother was already subject to extreme domestic abuse via my father. Four months after I was born, on November 16th, my father was involved in a fatal car incident.

My mother’s mental health quickly deteriorated after his death and she soon became involved in dangerous behaviours placing us both at significant risk.

No longer able to keep me safe from harm, I was removed from my mother’s care at 7 months by Birmingham social services. My first foster placement lasted 2 months before I was moved on to number 2 of 9, in fact I spent my entire childhood in the care system.

When I was 9 years old, my social worker advertised me in the Guardian newspaper, searching for my Forever family.

At the time, I never understood why my new mother was being so mean and horrible to me. She reminded me all the time I was not her real child and that I should think myself lucky they took me in. Sometimes she threatened me with moving to a children’s home if my behaviour did not improve. Yes, I was no angel, I was cheeky and mischievous, but I needed a nurturing family to empathise with me and love me as their own. All I remember wanting as a child was a family that reflected my identity.

In 1993 my social worker found what was meant to be my forever family. It was the most amazing feeling in the beginning to have what I had always wanted; however, this was to be short lived as three months or so later, the abuse began.

“All I remember wanting as a child was a family that reflected my identity”.

My social worker came to visit one day and noticed bruises on my arms, I kept quiet about it but when I opened the lounge door my foster mother and sisters were standing there and I believe my social worker had made her mind up something wasn’t quite right, so I was moved into my first children’s home where I lived with 13 other children, mixed boys and girls, this was an extremely difficult time for me. I felt emotionally punched with my first experience of rejection and shame and so my attachment was becoming more disorganised, adults began to represent pain.

In 1996, social services moved me back to my first foster mother as this was my request to the judge, however Pat was not getting back the younger Steven she once knew, she was getting back a traumatised, neglected, rejected, angry Steven, which is why the placement broke down quite quickly. I returned home from school one day and I noticed my social worker’s car parked outside which seemed odd because I wasn’t expecting a visit.

When I got into the house, she told me the placement wasn’t working and I would be moving…………now………… The universe dropped another psychological bomb on me causing more damage to an already rejected child; and so, I moved to my second children’s home in Castle Vale, Birmingham. I lived with 7 teenage boys. I learnt how to smoke, fight, steal, and get up to all sorts of mischief.

By the time I was 14 years old I had already been in a total of 9 foster homes, 2 Children’s homes and 5 schools. School was extremely tough for me, not only did I contend with moving schools throughout the years, I felt ashamed about being a kid in care and kept this a secret throughout my entire school life. I was frequently bullied for being different and the friends I did make I soon lost due to being moved.

“…They gave me 2 years of love, peace, harmony and belonging”.

In the year 2000, I went to my final foster family, Eunice and Neville, a Jamaican family with strict but fair disciplines. I had never lived with any other cultures outside of white British. They saw something special in me, they took their time with me, they showed me compassion and empathy. They told me straight when I was out of line, they created consistent boundaries for me to understand, they taught me to care, they taught me to cook, to clean, to save money, they took me to Jamaica for 3 – weeks, they showed me a new way of living………. They loved me.

Despite 14 years of damage, rejection, neglect and abuse they gave me 2 years of love, peace, harmony and belonging.

I continued to struggle academically and so I left year 11 with poor GCSE’s which meant my options were limited. I went to Sutton College for a short period of time however I soon became extremely bored learning about leisure and tourism. My foster mother said, it’s either college or work, so I spent the next 2 weeks looking for work, but no one would take me on. I finally stumbled upon a factory called William Gosling & sons, a corrugated factory in Aston. I began sweeping floors and taking out the trash. Although the work was mundane and tedious, a fellow worker noticed me sweeping the floor one day and said, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they sweep a floor”. I didn’t understand at first, however I soon realised for me the floor had to be perfect, whereas many of my counterparts would sweep rubbish into a corner in the hope someone else would clean it. I began to develop a work ethic; I began to challenge myself more each day.

Unfortunately, whilst my work ethic was steadily improving, my choice of friends was not. In 2005 at a house party, I was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver after a fight broke out. I only remember feeling the sensation of blood running down the back of my neck, then waking up in a hospital bed in Queen Elizabeth hospital, the rest is history.

“I can give back to children today what little Steven needed as a child”.

I knew from that point my attitude towards life had to change, so I moved out of Aston, changed my friendship group, began a new job and quit smoking. In 2007 I became a residential support worker with Archways care. For the next 9 years I would go from strength to strength.

I helped to set up a new home in 2010 and became an integral part of the senior leadership team. My passion for creativity soon became apparent as I designed many behaviour programmes for the children to work with.

In 2009 my son Malachi was born; I must admit I was a little disappointed with the news at first because I didn’t feel I was ready to be a Dad. A year later Cory was born and then 2 years after, my daughter Alyssa was born. I felt compelled to become the dad that I never had.

The irony was, that I would later go on to work for an organisation called Malachi as family support worker. I could not have imagined the journey being so influential and inspiring. I have had the chance to work with so many families, children, and schools as well as talented professionals in Child Psychology, Trauma and Counselling. The greatest part of all is that I have uncovered even more about myself.

In 2018, I decided it was about time I put my creativity to the test, I needed to create something I as a child would have benefited from.

“I sat for days thinking about what to do and how to do it and then it hit me…”elements”, this will reflect who I am, who I was as a child and what I needed. I can give back to children today what little Steven needed as a child through the 4 elements”.

As a child, I needed Someone to…

  • believe in me.

  • be patient with me.

  • encourage my creative skills.

  • fight for me as if I were their own.

  • help me find balance and structure.

  • hold me emotionally and not let go.

  • show me empathy and not try to fix me.

  • connect with me emotionally.

  • look past the cheeky kid and just see Steven.

When a child is left in the cold for too long, they develop ice.
We can’t ignore the ice or pretend everything’s OK.
We can’t chip away at the ice or sculpt them into something we want them to be.

“We must RADIATE, love, empathy, compassion, patience, optimism and by doing so, we generate the warmth that will eventually melt the ice away”…


Founder of Elements Support

#dripbydrip #daybyday #neverperfect #andthatsok

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Client Feedback

Client Feedback

Elements Support has received widespread praise from industry professionals including “Daniel Sobel”; an internationally respected leader in inclusive education, who has advised the DfE, the EU and governments abroad and the founder of Inclusion Expert and Daniel Croft; CEO of Foster Talk UK and industry professional with over 20 years of experience.

Below you can find a selection of the positive feedback that we’ve received from children / young people, organisations and industry professionals who have worked exclusively with Elements SEMH and Steven Russell.

If you are a Pastoral, Inclusion Lead or SLT, and you are looking for bespoke, highly effective SEMH support for your students, then I highly recommend Steven Russell. The Elements programme is tailor-made to meet your needs and it works and is backed up by testimony from many school leaders. Before you struggle-on or worry about a potential exclusion, call Steven and try out his service.

There’s a lot that I could say about Steven but I think that most people immediately get that he is genuine, real and highly experienced drawing from his own life story. He is a powerful, innovative and important voice working with children with SEMH challenges.

Elements provides a uniquely authentic child centred approach and through its bespoke support programme it not only excellently connects the four elements of the wellbeing framework but also focuses on providing a safe, non-judgemental environment in which a child can flourish at a fundamental level.

In over 20 years within social care, I have never even witnessed a bespoke programme that comes close to Elements, it’s rewards will live with children well into adulthood and filter down into generations to come.

It’s impossible to teach authenticity and passion, Steven manages to use his experience to bring an unparalleled level of passion to his work, added to his genuine authenticity and desire to learn and grow with these children, he’s an unbelievable resource to any educational environment.

Daniel Croft , CEO at Foster Talk UK

I have worked alongside Steven (Russell) when he has been chairing meetings as part of his role as family support worker for M.

He has the ability to build a relationship both with the young person and their parent/carer to help support them through their difficulties offering strategies and guidance in an empathic, non judgmental manner.

We have also worked within the same schools in their Multi Agency Centers (MAC).  I have seen students who have worked with Steven as their family support worker and they all really valued the work he did with them.

He is a very positive, caring person who is passionate about the wellbeing of young people, wanting them to become the best they can.

Sarah Heward, Choices CIC

I have known Steven for over ten years, initially in the capacity of his line manager to present day valued friend. Steven has overcome his own adversities growing up in the care system to turn full circle now supporting children and families with their own journeys.

Steven began his career in the residential sector where his enthusiasm, passion and creativity quickly became apparent. Combining these raw elements with training and knowledge Steven progressed to Senior Residential Support Worker before eventually attaining a Deputy Manager role. Eager to progress and expand his range of skills Steven moved to an educational and family support setting incorporating a person-centered counselling role.

I have no doubt that Steven possesses the attributes to make a positive impact on the people that he works with. His infectious personality and empathy helps children to naturally bond, trust and importantly feel safe allowing crucial work to be accomplished.

I would recommend Steven Russell without reservation to any school or setting seeking to support students facing issues – from attendance through to drug/alcohol through to family breakdown and neglect and abuse, and everything in between.

Steven combines empathy with integrity and is always willing to go the extra mile to help children and to help us as fellow professionals. Thus, he has become fully part of our community, as he is sensitive to our pressures, not just those of students.

His skill comes from his natural ability to build relationships with young people, and his highly-skilled listening.  Children trust him and will engage with him because they recognise someone who genuinely cares, and a man who will not let them down.  However, this does not mean that he will not challenge them to change and improve, and to become responsible for their own lives and future.

Clarissa Norrington-Owens, The Rawlett School

Steven has worked with a number of our families and individual children through his family support programme and therapeutic work.

By the end of the programmes there has been a noticeable improvement in children’s mental health and ability to access lessons.

The children he has worked with look forward to his visits and they quickly build up trust with Steven. 

I would highly recommend any school to use funding to support their Looked after Children as well as those who are struggling within attachment, anxiety or low self-esteem. Although outcomes of emotional health are hard to measure the impact of his work on children’s ability to access learning and attend lessons has been phenomenal.

Parents have also commented on how supportive his work has been for the parents and children.

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