A scheme aimed at supporting women who have complex needs and issues that may result in children being removed from their care has celebrated its pilot year at an event held at Spencer Court Community Centre, Blackpool.
Blackpool Council Children’s Services has been partnering with the national organisation ‘Pause’ to work with women and give them an opportunity to pause, take control of their lives and break cycles of behaviour that cause both them and their children distress.
The Pause service started engaging with women in January 2018 with 23 signing up for the programme. The women faced many challenges. 100 per cent were identified as having experienced domestic abuse, 82 per cent have experienced a range of mental health issues, 59 per cent have issues with substance misuse while 46 per cent were identified as experiencing learning difficulties.
During the programme women are encouraged to discover their individual identity. The service focuses on small steps that offer a sense of value and worth which can be giant strides forward for the women themselves. Pause supports women to access the appropriate services that they might need. As a result, they are able to access education and training, and secure and sustain tenancies.
At every stage, Pause practitioners encourage the women to keep their child or children in mind as well as their own childhood. Talking about their own experiences can help women develop empathy and insight into the impact their behaviour may have had or has on their child. Women are supported so that any contact sessions can be enjoyable and memorable for their children.
Pause advisors, professional partners and around twelve women who participated in the programme recently attended the celebratory event to mark the success of the first year and share their experiences. A short film was also shown that included ideas that many of the women developed during creative arts workshops to ‘share their voice’.
Coun Graham Cain, Cabinet Secretary for Resilient Communities, said: “Pause Blackpool has been extremely effective at identifying and encouraging women to join the programme. It has helped a number of them to improve their own lives and their relationship with their children or children they may have in the future.
“The programme is driven by a woman’s individual needs. It offers a reassuring and supportive environment that is very different from the negative perspectives and language that many of the women will be used to hearing about themselves. We are delighted that so many women have benefited so much from Pause and its important work in helping reduce the risk of children being taken into care.”
Jules Hillier, chief executive officer at Pause, said: “It was moving and inspiring to meet with so many women who are working with Pause Blackpool to make huge change in their lives and to celebrate their achievements with them.
“That the women were so involved in the planning and delivery of the celebration event is particularly impressive and meant that we got a really strong sense of the huge difference Pause Blackpool is making.”