In 2005 our Founder, Sophie Humphreys, was leading the child protection service at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney 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.
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 further. In 2011, an in-depth feasibility study was undertaken by Sophie Humphreys, Georgina Perry 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 violence (71%), drug and alcohol addiction (98%), homelessness (51%), care experienced (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 underlying root causes of this destructive pattern, or to understand the cyclical nature or 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 Humphreys alongside her colleague Georgina Perry, both with experience rooted in practice with vulnerable children and 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 Sophie Humphreys founded the national organisation Pause, securing significant funding to enable Pause to scale from one Practice to our current position of 20, and plans to double that by 2021.