Step Together is a new programme to be delivered by Venus to support women and young women who have had one or more children permanently removed into care. The programme will run initially for 5 years and will provide support to 150 women over this time to address their needs to avoid what is or could become a cycle recurring. Many issues contribute to this cycle including domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health and previous trauma and half of these women are aged 24 and under. A study over a six year period (2007 to 2013) showed that just over 7 thousand birth mothers experienced nearly 23 thousand babies and children taken into care.
Whilst care proceedings are active there are usually many services involved with the family however once the children have been removed from the mothers care she is left with little or no support at a time when she is likely to be alone and depressed experiencing feelings of anger, loss and regret. At this point women are even more vulnerable to increased risk taking and an onward downward spiral of mental health.
However this is also a point at which appropriate interventions could engage birth mothers in an intensive support programme which will stabilize their lives and work towards addressing their previous trauma and overcoming the complex range of issues and barriers they face. This is what Step Together aims to do by providing individual support and therapy through a co-designed support plan enhanced by the additional services below.
• Sexual health and contraception support, information and treatment will be provided every three months
• Support to attend weekly substance misuse treatment and support
• Domestic violence support to manage safety planning where these issues are priorities
• Incredible Years or Triple P Parenting individual or group sessions
• Weekly counselling sessions in a model assessed as appropriate to individual needs and therapeutic group work
• Safer, Healthier and Empowered training course
• Participation in project design and delivery
• Home management support including life skills, cleaning, organisation and routines
• Homeless prevention and housing related support and advocacy
• Health support including GP registration and liaison and mental health management
• Financial resilience support including benefit maximisation, budgeting, avoiding high interest and unregulated lending, credit unions and access to grants for household goods
This project was launched at Venus in October 2016 however due to the holistic and intensive nature the programme is only expected to work with 20 women in the first year, we expect this to rise by 5 each year to a total of 40 in year 5. We do hope we can do more but obviously there will be more demand than capacity so we will be hoping to liaise closely with referring agencies to identify the most appropriate referrals. If you are interested in referring to our Step Together project, please contact us at Venus or make a referral through our website.