“Obviously, I felt numb, I couldn’t feel anything...I lost my boys, I needed help and I just… I had love there but I felt numb, I just… it felt like I couldn’t love again, and that was it, really… I needed some kind of support to make me feel like I could again… it’s taken me six years to do that, it could have been quicker if I had the counselling…” Mia, a mother, who stayed at one of our assessment centres and had her children taken into care.
Securing Change, our 3-year project to support mothers leaving our residential service without their child, begins May 2018 after two years of planning and fundraising.
Supporting mothers to break the cycle of repeat care proceedings
The problem of recurrent care proceedings has come to national attention and there are now various initiatives to tackle it. We are monitoring and learning from these projects. Professor Karen Broadhurst and colleagues have carried out extensive research around how quickly mothers who have had a child removed from their care are again involved in court proceedings with a subsequent child. Our own work also demonstrates that many families we work with each year have had previous children removed before they are referred to us with their current child. In 2016 - 7 we worked with 58 families residentially. 21 families had had 49 children removed from their care prior to coming to St Michael’s and of those seven families returned to the community with their current child.
We have completed a small research project with Middlesex University on the experiences of mothers referred to us who have had previous children removed. We want to understand their experiences and the type of support they would have most valued so that Securing Change is informed by them. Some local authorities have put in measures to address the needs of these women but many have not.
During the three-year pilot, we will develop a service that meets these women’s needs through one to one support and the opportunity for group support. The work will be person centred and address the needs of the women as identified by them. Issues that we anticipate will be common to all are: dealing with grief and perhaps needing therapeutic support, accommodation, benefits, contact with the child, exploring what needs to change in order to become a parent at some point in the future, isolation, regression to previous behaviours.
“I think what [they are] planning on doing with [setting up a new support service] is, it could save so many people's lives… I'm not just talking about their mentality, I'm talking about their whole lifestyle, their whole mind-set, it could change them in such a way you wouldn't understand.” Patrica, a mother, who stayed at St Michael's and had her children taken into Care.
Securing Change is a development of our family assessment and outreach services. In both parents receive intensive, holistic and tailored support over an extended period. In outreach we work with local partners focused on housing, education, employment, criminal justice and wellbeing.
The difference we will make
The changes we are looking to bring about are:
- Participants are able to resolve past issues, have better coping strategies in crises, healthier relationships and are not involved in repeat care proceedings
- Participants feel able to access general services, local groups and training
Securing Change will be evaluated by the Centre for Abuse & Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University.
We are most grateful to have secured funding from The Big Lottery, The Philip King Charitable Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, The Tudor Trust, KPMG Foundation, The Elizabeth and Prince Zaiger Trust, other trusts and individual donors to pilot this work.