“It is my choice to work with Ann-Marie, no one's forcing me, and no one is forcing her. Most of the other things I have to do is forced, so to speak, it's part of a contract, if I don’t do it, I might lose Mia again,” Sophie explained.
Some of the parents we work with are left feeling powerless and exhausted. When you are going through assessments and the family courts lots of decisions are made for you by professionals, in the best interests of your child.
Ann-Marie works for our Securing Change aftercare programme. It’s about raising parents up and giving them the power to change their lives for the better.
Leaving with her baby
Sophie finished her family assessment and started a Mother & Baby foster placement with her baby, Mia, just as Covid-19 and lock-down happened. (You can read about her experience and why she was doing an assessment here).
Had enough of professionals
“I kept in contact with Denise [her keyworker] at Crawford House. I sent them messages and pictures showing how me and Mia were doing. It was Denise who told me about Ann-Marie and Securing Change,” said Sophie.
Not that bothered
“If I am honest, I had just finished my foster placement, and everyone was saying how good I had done. I didn’t want to deal with any more professionals. But its hard to say no to Denise,” Sophie laughs. “I just I agreed to have a call from Ann-Marie, but I wasn’t that bothered really. She called me for a chat and then she asked if I knew I could get £300 for furniture and things for Mia. My ears pricked up then!”
Sophie had met Ann-Marie 6 months before at a contact session when Mia had first seen her Dad. “I remember Ann-Marie told me I had handled it really well. Keeping my emotions from Mia. Then she came to talk to me about how she might be able to help me, but I was just focusing on getting through each day.”
Focused on getting through each day
“Assessment is like [addiction] recovery, I personally was just trying to get through each day and leave with Mia. I couldn’t think about the future; I couldn’t think about anything else. I would go to bed early so the days would go faster.”
Sophie thinks it's essential St Michaels keeps in contact with parents after they leave and encourage them to sign-up for Securing Change - like Denise her keyworker did.
Gentle persistence and a grant
“If I hadn’t kept in-touch I wouldn’t have thought about the aftercare. I didn’t think I needed any.”
But Ann-Marie's gentle persistence paid off,
“After we got the furniture and baby gates with the £300 Ann-Marie would call and ask if I needed anything else.”
A dentist appointment, coffee and cake
“I needed to go to a dentist and cheekily asked if she would be able to watch Mia for me. I’ve got no support, no family as such that can help me out. Ann-Marie said she would.”
“I liked Ann-Marie, I asked if I needed to make up fake appointments to see her again,” laughs Sophie, “She said no she would just come and see me. She took me out for coffee and cake. She put me really at ease.”
Lots of the parents we work with find themselves feeling lonely at first. There can be a lot to sort out and having someone to talk through things with is so important.
Ann-Marie’s not like other professionals
“I did my groups on Zoom, and I do my voluntary work on Saturday, but I didn’t see anyone else through the week. I wouldn’t call social services because they are like professionals. Because of Covid, I haven’t been able to build up my network, so basically, I am on my own with Mia and Ann-Marie will be the only person I will see. I know she is a sort of professional, but it doesn’t feel like that.”
Look forward to talking to Ann-Marie
Sophie has had to sign up for lots of virtual support groups as part of her contract with the local authority so she can keep Mia. These help with her recovery and parenting. She also has to speak to a lot of different professionals every week from social workers to health visitors.
It’s my decision
But with Securing Change it’s different, “[Ann-Marie] is not forced to see me and I am not forced to see her,” Sophie explains, “ That’s why I kept my Feminism for Change online course out of the Local Authority contract, I wanted to keep something for me.”
The team at St Michael's has been so impressed with how Sophie puts Mia's needs first above everything else. It has been wonderful for them to watch her grow as a mother.
If you would like to know more about our Securing Change programme or speak to Ann-Marie, you can call us on 020 8835 9570 email email@example.com
You can also read Sophie's story about her assessment at St Michael's here.
There is also another story about a mother who left without her children and was supported by Securing Change here