When a parent leaves one of our residential assessments it can be hard to adjust. Now they can get support from our Securing Change project to help them take the next steps and adjust back in the community. Here we have a chat with Ann-Marie, our Securing Change Practitioner, about her work, but first here's the lowdown on what Securing Change is.
What is our Securing Change programme?
Securing Change is a 3-year project offering support to families who have been residents at a St Michael's centre. We offer support to parents who have stayed at our residential family assessment centres whatever their present situation.
Why is Securing Change important?
After leaving our residential centres, we realised there was little support for the families afterwards. The support provided through the programme allows for long term positive changes to embed, securing real change.
What can Securing Change help with?
- Dealing with emotions and access to counselling
- Contact with the child
- Exploring what needs to change to become a parent in future
- Not returning to previous harmful behaviours.
Ann-Marie has been working at St Michael's Fellowship since November 2019. She is the Securing Change Practitioner and has over 15 years' experience in social work. (Ann-Marie, right)
"I am not here to criticise, I'm here to help."
Being adaptable & building trust
Ann-Marie shares how important it is to treat each parent as an individual, as what works for one person may not for another.
"It can take time to build up trust with some of the parents, but once they see how our help can benefit them, trust will slowly begin to build. Often these parents are angry at the world, especially if their children have been removed. Once they realise we are only here to help, advise and assist trust begins to come."
"Often these parents are angry at the world, especially if their children have been removed."
"I am really proud of the service we offer. I was a social worker before I started this role - where you don't have time to build these deeper relationships and develop trust - even though you would like to. Here I can see the impact the service is having, I can see them growing and I can spot when they need my help."
How Ann-Marie helps
"I help in lots of different ways. I am there at meetings with social workers or other professionals, offer budgeting advice, help book appointments, arrange online training courses. Lots of parents have similar issues around poverty, finding somewhere to live and dealing with the grief of losing a child. Support can be hard for them to find. Saying that every situation is unique."
"I have some parents with learning difficulties who struggle with budgeting or getting the help they need. Recently, I helped source furniture for one of the fathers who had left St Michaels. He had managed to get a flat and was living with his son but he had nothing else - the flat was basically empty. Their flat is now fully furnished thanks to some funding I got for him and furniture donations from our supporters."
"Securing Change gives parents hope, that they are not alone."
"When they leave the houses I am still there. They have big decisions to make, I support them so that it can hopefully lead to sustainable and long-term change for them. Often parents leaving an assessment without a child are alone and can be really isolated, so I am on the phone if they need me. If this service was not available there is a possibility parents would have another child to replace the one they have lost, without any meaningful change - with the possibility of losing the next."
"If this service was not available there is a possibility parents would have another child to replace one they have lost, without any meaningful change - with the possibility of losing the next."
Anne- Marie has worried about the parents she supports during the current crisis.
"It has meant that physical contact for parents who do not live with their children has been non-existent. COVID-19 has isolated a lot of families and the lack of services has not helped. This has understandably caused, particularly parents, a lot of distress. While the virtual video calls have allowed for contact to happen through a different means, it can be especially difficult for the parents I work with because they want to see their babies or very young children."
"COVID-19 has isolated a lot of families and the lack of services has not helped."
"COVID-19 has affected many vulnerable communities, particularly because of food. Lots of children have had to be at home, they are not getting their schools meals, so parents are having to spend a significant amount more on food. Which was why I decided to arrange food parcels for all the families we work with at St Michaels."
Securing Change's aim
"The overall aim for the Securing Change programme is to support parents so that they don't have more children removed from their care. These parents are often very vulnerable and may be preyed on by abusers and manipulators. They need support to either continue with the good steps they have made during an assessment or to help deal with the grief of having a child removed."
"To do this we support families so they no longer have to depend on the system, but know where and how to access necessary resources that can help them continue on their journey to a brighter future."
Get in touch!
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