The Right to Fight for Support

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Even though we shouldn't have to....
We are left with no option but to fight for the support that we need from children's social care services.

Many families in Worcestershire aswell as other areas in the UK are being affected detrimentally by the lack of support given to families in need of structured support. Due to funding cuts, pressures on proffessionals to meet deadlines and the lack of knowledge of understanding mental health, domestic abuse and addiction is affecting the ability for services to do what they are meant to be doing here.

They are meant to be providing the support to keep families together. Instead they are picking fault on parents for not dealing with past traumas, for not knowing how to parent because of their own abusive childhood, to have structures and boundaries for their children that are none exsistant to them as they were never shown.

Which also begs the question whether children should be learning about theses things in education. To educate them on there rights, boundaries, self worth and concept, positive role models, assertive communication, healthy relationships and how to spot the signs of abuse.

If children are able to learn about theses things, they will then be able to recognise when they are being abused. It will give them more ability to recognise there needs may not being met or there rights being voilated. Which in turn will enable them to grow up into stronger and more self aware adults.

This wasnt available to myself growing up nor did i feel i had a trusted adult to talk to. All the things that I have learnt in recovery that I was never shown as a child. Love being one of them. I never knew unconditional love as i was always showed conditional love. But knowing my rights and knowing about my needs as a child, could of saved me from experiencing the abuse that I suffered. It would of enabled me to speak up and maybe act on what was going on around me. It could of protected me or at least given me the tools to ask for help when i needed it.

We can't know things if we have never learnt or been showed them but that doesn't mean we should suffer as parents. Social services need to be helping parents and educating them from their bad experiences to help them to move forward positively with their own children to break the cycle of abuse. Just as a child needs praise and encourangement so does that broken adult that once was that abused child!

I am fortunate enough to of come out the other side of this situation, as many parents do not make it this far due to the pain and suffereing or they just dont know what they are are meant to do as nothing has been broken down or explained to them properly. The fact that our mental health gets worse when services get involved goes to show that the approach is not helpful. The anxiety and stress of services having a negative approach belittling you as a parent in everything that you do is on its own torture and detrimental to victims. The trauma of losing your children is enough to send you over the edge. It truly breaks you.

Since the removal of my children I have been able to educate myself from my life experiences so that I am now able to move forward and correct my past mistakes to be able to parent my daughters correctly. Not that there is a right or wrong way. But I have gained the knowledge to be able to make parenting fun and not stressful. This is so the same cycle that I fell into doesn't happen to them. Until parents are educated and they learn the about there own defects and how this can impact them they wont be ready to make the steps to overcome it so they can't make any positive changes and they can't progress until they can understand how they got there in the first place. It's a long process and it isn't easier but with the right support around you and positive people encouraging you, it is possible!

Theses issues are very apparent in most cases in today's society. Not only are we facing the reality of parents suffering today because of the past generations where social services have failed them as children. But the abused children that have now become broken adults have had to grow up without the support then having to face there own family differculties to then be torn appart by the services that failed them in the first place. 

I want to make people aware of the reality of today's focus by social services. There needs to be something done to change the approach of the services involved when supporting families in need when facing difficult times. 

Maybe more parents would come forward and ask for support if there was more understanding around supporting the parent to be able to understand there past and there was no threat of the authoritys removing their children. More understanding and less judgement. Looking more at the positive than the negatives and encouraging the parent to do what is right instead of telling them everything they are doing wrong, breaking them down, knocking their confidence and self esteem. After all, I thought this type of behaviour towards another human being is in someway abusive and against the law yet proffessionals are being allowed to bully and intimidate vulnerable parents sufferening from mental health and victims of domestic abuse? How does this seem fair or even in anyway acceptable? It is still ABUSE.

And mental torture. ''Having my children taken away from me was the most painful thing I have ever experienced''

Many of us want to do right by our children and keep our them safe. We don't want to put them at risk. We don't want to fail them in anyway. But we are human and we make mistakes purely because we fell into a cycle of how we were parented. How is this our fault? We are then too scared to ask for the help because we risk our children being away from us. This was what I dreaded the most and my worst nightmare became real after falling appart completely and begging the services to help me.

I, myself being one of many parents having faced losing my children to the care of the local authority have been a victim of this lack of support. Since losing my children March 2017, I was given no guidance or support around how to deal with the process of having my children removed. Actually I was just left on my own to deal with everything. They stopped all my support due to me no longer being a 'family' the family support worker closed my support and i wasnt given alternative one to one support which is where they failed me again.

Prior to this happening I suffered really badly with my mental health, I am a domestic abuse survivor and had substance abuse issues which were impacted by trauma and abuse that I had experienced through childhood into my adult life. 

Since my children have left my care. I have done everything asked of me and more to help myself and as a parent to do right by my children. To get myself back into a better place to be their mother. I paid for private therapy out of my own pocket as local authority refused to help. I got myself clean from drugs and I don't even drink alcohol anymore. I put myself through the freedom recovery program. I accessed all resources available to me to improve my mental health and well being including self help groups such as narcostics anonymous, moodmaster, mental health support groups. I put myself on a mentoring program to help a charity in my area that offers suppprt and training and also ive helped other people suffering from simular mental health or substance misuse issues. I have applied to volunteer for a drug recovery service in my local area and have been offered to help with domestic abuse support services. I've attended several parenting courses understanding your child, the nurturing program, parenting through domestic abuse through woman's aid. Online elearning including safe guarding children, awareness of domestic abuse, effects of parental substance misuse on familys and children and what is child neglect and abuse. I've seeked help regarding my finances. I can't think of anything more I can do to proove my stability and change that I have continued to sustain. It's now been 18 months since my children were removed and im still fighting.

In December 2017, it was decided in court that a reunification plan would be put into place so my children could return home. This was happy news and i was over the moon that i would be reunited with my children.

Local authority shut this down immediately after making things difficult and telling me i had already lost my children as the care orders were granted then going on to fail me on a parenting assessment. It seemed to negatively paint a bad picture of myself stating my parenting wasn't good enough and again bought up past issues that were irrelevant to me as the person i chose to be today. It was very biased and my words had be manipulated to make me look bad. My attachment with my children has broken down more and more since the day they left me due to them no longer being in my care and as I would describe as being alienated away from me. The longer they are away from me the more damage this is causing my children. 

All of the posituve things I have done for myself, off my own back without any support from social services. I found my own resources. I accessed my own support after being able to understand what was expected of me only when reaching the care proceedings did I realise what had actually happened.

Once I became clean and was able to understand the impact of my actions my substance misuse, my choice in relationships and my mental health had affected my children was I then able to start tackling my problems. But if services had used theses resources that I was able to access and put them in place beforehand. If i had been supported in understanding what they expected of me and why this was impacting me and how i could access help to support me as a parent and put this in place before things escalating to the removal of my children. My family wouldn't of been torn appart.

The system failed me as a child and now they are failing me as a mother too!

''Being left with nothing but myself and my own thoughts when my children were taken, I chose to make big changes to my life. The initial shock of having my children removed sparked a big wake up call that is needed way before removal of children is even considered. The fact that I only had myself to rely on and it was that day I decided to fight for the right for support.''

If only local authority had put into place this support prior to my children being removed things would of been so different. Instead you are judged and misunderstood. You are backed into a corner with a fear of being attacked and the situation easily spirals out of control. They put me in a position of vulnerability and stripped my children away from at my lowest point.

I feel that a different approach must be taken in order to save parents going through the same ordeal that I have. If children must be removed as a last result I mean as a 'nothing else can be done'  last resort an immediate referal should be made to adult social care for that parent to have there own care plan! We are victims. We have suffered trauma just as much as our children. We should have be able to recover together not appart.

It is traumatic enough myself having been through child abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploration, domestic abuse and drug abuse. I was an abused child that became a vulnerable adult. But yet I have been made to feel punished and suffered more trauma having my children removed from me. I am a victim of abuse and now i fight to break the cycle of abuse and be supported.

I am fighting for the right to be heard. To be understood and listened to. There is plenty of support out there it's just not being put into place by the social workers and parents are not being pointed in the right direction to be able to understand why there are concerns. Parents are reluctant to engage because of the approach that is being used and the reputation the local authority have made for themselves. 

BBC news 13th June 2018 report that it is 'easier to take child into care than get support' 

This is exactly what is happening. A senior judge has said it is easier to obtain a care order to take a child away from their family, than for the family to get support. But this so wrong and so damaging for the families and children involved and this is why something needs to be done.

It's about time the local authorities changed there approach and actually start to take note and look at the bigger picture here. Instead of being very negative, making misjudgement and looking at everything in black and white. Start looking at the grey, find a middle ground and read between the lines before damaging peoples lives. Your supposed to be building up support that is really needed out there to keep families together. Using funding for what it is meant to be for. Helping parents learn how to become cooperative respectful parents, Offering courses to help them, Offering therapy counselling, Self help groups, There are plenty of resources out there. There is not enough being done beforehand to stop parents from losing there children. There is lack of understanding from the proffessionals especially towards mothers that have experienced domestic abuse or been subjected to abuse themselves as children. Social workers are not making use of the right services to point parents in the right direction of support BEFORE CRISIS!

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We need to fight for the right for support!

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