A national charity that aims to reduce the number of children taken into care has launched in St Helens.
Pause St Helens, a joint venture between Pause and St Helens Council, will become the first practice in Merseyside to work with women who have experienced, or are at risk of, repeat removals of children from their care.
This will not only benefit local families and the local authority, with reduced numbers of children being removed, but also improve outcomes around housing, health and criminal justice – and has the potential to save tax payers millions of pounds a year.
Figures show that the number of applications at Family Courts for a child to be taken into care reached almost 13,000 in the England last year, with the proportion of women returning to court – having already had one child removed – ranging from 15.5 per cent to as much as 29 percent on
Supported by a number of internal and external stakeholders including Merseyside Police, the St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, and local drug and alcohol treatment service Change Grow Live (CGL), Pause will focus on vulnerable women at risk of becoming pregnant and having children
removed from their care. Pause practitioners will provide a therapeutic relationship which helps the women to deal with various issues including housing, drug and alcohol addictions, domestic violence and mental health.
Based at Tickle Avenue, Parr, Pause will see a team of five staff will work alongside local partners to provide the women with the opportunity to reflect, tackle destructive patterns of behaviour, and develop new skills that can help create a more positive future through an intense support programme.
The charity looks to create a space for change, allowing women to focus on themselves, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Its relationship-based approach supports women to build their self-esteem and develop their aspirations. As part of the programme, women agree to use a long-action reversible contraceptive which enables them to break from the pregnancy cycle.
“The purpose of Pause is to prevent the damaging consequences of thousands more children being taken into care each year,” said Councillor Jeanette Banks, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Young People and Education.
“The programme gives women the chance to pause and take control of their lives, breaking a destructive cycle that causes both them and their children deep trauma.”
Councillor Banks added: “We have been working with partners to identify those who would most benefit from working with the practice. Pause St Helens staff will be confident and tenacious in their approach, and will never give up on the women, many of whom have been in care themselves, or
label them according to their personal problems.
“The women who become part of Pause can expect the time, space and support they need to make significant changes in their lives.”
Photo: The Pause St Helens team, led by Janine Saleh (centre).