Delegates at the National Children’s & Adult Services (NCAS) conference joined Pause to discuss how to learn from women’s experiences to develop services with greater impact.
Speakers from local public health, midwifery, family law and children’s services were joined by a Pause Participant from St Helens who told delegates about her own experience.
HH Judge Lesley Newton, who sits in the Family Division in Greater Manchester, recounted her experience of women who come to her court for care proceedings. She told delegates of her frustration that assessments of the women’s needs take place but don’t always result in meaningful action. As a result, some women come before her time after time with little or no interim support, essentially let down by society.
Kelly Pierce, a consultant midwife in public health, talked about her work in developing a programme, alongside Pause West Sussex, to support women who have children removed. The Me in Mind programme not only provides perinatal support to the women, but also works with professionals to work sensitively and sympathetically with them. In addition, a memory box is created for the child to learn about his or her mother in the future.
Delegates then heard from Andy Hood, Senior Head of Service at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust. He spoke about how the Trust has learned about the importance of language from listening to Participants in Pause. The right – or wrong – language can change how we relate together and, used positively and effectively, can shift behaviour in professionals and vulnerable adults and children to bring about change.
Different language and different approaches also formed the basis of Jason Strelitz’s intervention. As professionals, he said, we often use language and jargon that just doesn’t connect with people. With Pause, though, people feel able to speak with authenticity and clarity. The relationship-based approach is key to this.
The final speaker, a Pause Participant from St Helens, spoke of her experience of services before she began working with Pause. Lack of co-operation and sharing information was frustrating and actually meant less, rather than more, engagement with services. With Pause, she said, it was different: challenging her, but also understanding her concerns and fears. She closed the session with a poem she had written about this experience. Listening to her, delegates were left in no doubt of the positive impact of more and better engagement.