Pause was founded by two colleagues in Hackney. Sophie Humphreys and Georgina Perry. In 2005 Sophie was leading the child protection service at the Homerton Hospital and saw first-hand the damaging consequence to children and their families of a cycle that resulted in the same women presenting pregnant year after year in circumstances that resulted in their child needing to be removed each time. At this time Georgina was a senior NHS Manager working with some of the most complex vulnerable women in Hackney who due to their circumstances were coming to the attention of children’s social care, often resulting in their children being removed.
Sophie and Georgina alongside other colleagues at the Homerton, who were also supporting women through their services who were having children removed, started discussions about the need to do something differently to break the destructive cycle that resulted in deep trauma to the women and their children.
Sophie started to track and follow a number of these women’s progress over the years, and brought this to the attention of the local authority, campaigning successfully for action to be taken to understand this issue of repeat removals further.
In 2011, an in-depth feasibility study was undertaken by Sophie, Georgina, and Lucy Vanes that identified and researched the prevalence of this issue of ‘repeat removals’ in Hackney, alongside developing a business case for a pilot to test an initiative to break this destructive cycle.
The feasibility study identified 49 individual women in Hackney who had already experienced the removal of 205 of their children and remained in circumstances that suggested this pattern was likely to continue. The study also identified a high prevalence of complex and co-existing risk factors for removal of children including domestic abuse (71%), drug and alcohol dependency (98%), homelessness (51%), experience of growing up in care (49%) and criminal justice involvement (35%).
Although the women were well known across support services in the borough, very little work had taken place, locally or nationally, to focus on the complex nature of this destructive pattern, or to understand the cyclical impact of early life trauma on repeat removals of children into care.
In 2013 in Hackney a pilot commenced and was duly named Pause to reflect the core objective of the programme to create a space and enable change to take place. A model of intervention was designed and created by Sophie and Georgina, both with experience rooted in practice with vulnerable children and complex needs adults. This initial pilot proved to be highly successful resulting in on-going funding be provided to enable it to become a permanent service in Hackney and capturing the interest of government and LA’s across the country.
In 2014 Pause secured significant funding from the DFE, enabling the pilot to scale up and further test the model across seven UK sites. Sophie became Founding Chief Executive, supported by Georgina as Director of Practice, and the inaugural Board of trustees including the late Judge Nicolas Creighton CBE (Founder of Family Drug and Alcohol Court), and Melanie Howard who helped Pause gain its Charity status during her year as Chair. Sophie continued to lead Pause to its current position of 24 practices, with plans to double that by 2021.