‘Significant progress’ for West Sussex County Council scheme to support vulnerable woman

The Pause West Sussex team with (centre) Kelly Wilkes, Practice Lead SUS-181114-111252001
The Pause West Sussex team with (centre) Kelly Wilkes, Practice Lead SUS-181114-111252001

A scheme which supports some of the county’s most vulnerable women has made ‘significant progress’ in its first 12 months, according to the West Sussex County Council.

A county council spokesman said Pause West Sussex works ‘intensively’ with a number of women who have had ‘multiple children’ removed from their care.

It added: “Twenty-two women are currently on the programme, a first such partnership for the South East with the national organisation Pause.

“Over 18 months, participants work closely with Pause practitioners on individual goals to tackle problems in their lives.

“These may have resulted from domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, poor mental health or experience of care themselves.”

The county council said the scheme offers women emotional and practical support and advocacy.

It also challenges the women to break the ‘damaging cycle’ of becoming pregnant and their children being taken into care.

The spokesman said: “The women joined Pause staff at a ‘one-year-on’ event in Worthing on 1 October, some sharing their stories to invited guests.

“One participant who has had a number of children removed said: ‘This time last year I was in and out of jail, I couldn’t care if I was alive or dead, I was using and drinking. I just needed that one person to pull everything together and say it’s not because she doesn’t care, she’s just not coping’”.

People can seek practical support, such as help with housing and overcoming debt, or emotional support, linking women to services they may need such as counselling and mental health, the county council said.

Pause West Sussex Practice Lead, Kelly Wilkes, said the programme was now at its capacity and an estimated 14 fewer children will be taken into care from birth.

She said the trust built up between practitioners and participants was ‘key to the success’ 12 months into the three-year pilot.

She added: “It’s a privilege for our team to do something none of us have done before by intensively supporting these women while they grieve their losses.

“It has given us the space to creatively and tenaciously help them to pause and understand what’s happened in their past so they can make sense of the here and now.

“Crucially our work doesn’t just have a positive impact on our women. The life story work and meeting adopters really does make a massive difference in assisting the children to settle in their new placements. We are learning from the women just how easily life can snowball in the wrong direction.”

Paul Marshall, county council cabinet member for children and young people, formerly opened the event.

He said: “Pause is part of the council’s wider Better Change Programme working together to support vulnerable families from pre-birth to when children are five years old.

“I’m hugely impressed with the team for guiding these women on their recovery journey and with the bravery of the participants for seeking to make positive changes in their lives.”

For more information about Pause West Sussex call 0330 222 5955 or email pause@westsussex.gov.uk.

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