Each family helped by St Michael's has a different story.
Simon - Helping a young father remain in contact with his son
Simon is the father of one-year-old Leo whose mother is Lisa.
Lisa and Simon’s relationship had broken down and they were no longer together. We started working with the family after Lisa asked that Simon be allowed to maintain contact with their son. However, after a few weeks, she obtained a non-molestation order and said she no longer wanted Simon to see Leo. At this stage, St Michael’s involvement increased significantly. All our work focused on getting the best outcomes for Leo.
It was important that Leo continued to have contact with his father and his father’s family. There is overwhelming evidence that - always provided it is safe to do so - where a father is co-parenting his child, even where parents are separated, children are happier and healthier and do better when they start school.
We wanted Simon and Lisa to avoid a cycle of conflict over contact and money and to resolve disputes as responsible adults.
Above all, we wanted a long term solution which meant that Leo could rely on both his parents to care for him physically, emotionally and financially, giving him the best chance to achieve in life.
Some of the practical measures that St Michael’s put in place were:
Helping Simon to get a contact order so he could see his son
Providing Simon with a safe and structured environment for supervised contact with Leo
Persuading Simon to adopt alternative dispute resolutions, in the form of mediation and reconciliation, so avoiding a cycle of conflict
Helping Simon to obtain a Level 3 apprenticeship so he was able to provide for his son
Support to set up a payment scheme for this
Access to other support; one-to-one and peer support at different children’s centres across Lambeth
names & some identifying details have been changed; photo uses models
Khadija - A 16-year old’s apparently blasé attitude to pregnancy concealed a traumatic history and potential to be a highly responsible, caring young mother
I saw a young person who was looking forward to being a mother and wanted the best for her child. I made sure she pursued her education so she can give her child a promising future. St Michael’s young parent practitioner
Khadija (not her real name), a Somalian-born lone young mother to-be aged 16, lived in an overcrowded home in Lambeth with her siblings. Her mother was in Somalia, her partner in Kenya. Khadija’s unborn baby was subject to a child-in-need plan. Her health was poor and she had no money for food. She appeared blasé about her pregnancy.
Khadija had before spoken to other professionals about her family history but gradually explained to her St Michael’s young parent practitioner that she was a victim of FGM (female genital mutilation). She talked about the war and how her father had been shot by solders at their home. Her mother had managed to get the children to the Red Cross at the border.
Her ‘casual’ attitude towards her pregnancy became understandable in this context.
The young parent practitioner saw a young person who was looking forward to being a mother, who wanted the best for her child. She found her an appropriate college where Khadija could continue her education, introduced her to food bank vouchers and supported her benefits claim. When the baby was born, Khadija was removed from the child-in-need plan as her care of her baby was sufficient. We supported her to claim her benefits so she could contribute to the family income. The house was very clean and tidy and well organised, and the baby was comfortable and well cared for by the family.
She sometimes calls to tell us that she is happy and well, has sent a special bracelet to the practitioner and often says how important St Michael’s was in her life.
names & some identifying details have been changed