Each quarter, we focus our internal learning on a different topic that affects or is important to the women we work with. This quarter, we are focusing on relationships with children.
V has been working with Hannah Kettles, a practitioner for Pause Worcestershire, for 15 months. She sat down with Practice Lead Marie Pye to reflect on her relationships with her children, and how far she’s come since working with Pause.
Marie: Can you tell us a bit about your situation before you met your Pause Practitioner, Hannah?
V: Everything was up in the air. Things weren’t good with social services. I was seeing my youngest in a contact centre but I barely saw my eldest, as he hated the centre. Our relationship suffered because we weren’t seeing each other or getting quality family time.
Then when Hannah came along, she helped me with some ways to deal with social services. I was just firing at them, didn’t know how to deal with them. It was the way I was saying things, the way I was coming across, as I was so angry at them. Hannah has helped me to work through that anger. I am not angry at social services anymore. I am still angry at that particular social worker but I now recognise that it’s not social services as a whole. That’s something that Hannah has helped me see.
Marie: What are things like now?
V: So good. So good! In the time that I have worked with Hannah, we have gone from being in contact centres to being in natural settings with contact workers, to being supervised by family, to now being unsupervised with my eldest and only supervised by family with my youngest. That’s massive.
Marie: What did you have to do to make those steps?
V: I was still so angry with the whole situation that I didn’t know how to handle it. Hannah has helped me understand all the processes that social workers have to go through.
She has helped me build a positive relationship between myself and social services. Hannah trusted my new social worker, so I kind of put my trust in this social worker through Hannah. She helped me word things better in meetings. I’d tell Hannah what it was that was bothering me in my usual way, then she’d go ‘right, let’s try putting it to them like this’. I got so much further this way. They listened to me and took on board what I was saying.
Marie: Do you mean using different words? Or is it more about recognising your emotions and taking a breath?
V: I think it’s a bit of both. I think the good thing about Hannah is that she is a qualified social worker, so she knows all the professional terms as well. They would use terms and I would have no idea what they were on about. Hannah has been able to explain things and now I understand more. So I don’t feel like they are having a go at me, because I don’t know what they are talking about.
Marie: Do you think there were other things that Hannah did with you that helped you cope?
V: I think for a long time my life has just been knock back after knock back. I’ve never dealt with anything. For example, my debts. I just ran away from all my debts. Any time anyone came knocking on my door saying they needed money, I’d be like ‘I can’t handle this’ and I would run away. But now all my debts are being dealt with, thanks to Hannah. Well, thanks to me, but Hannah has pointed me in the right direction.
Before Pause got involved, I didn’t really know what to do, where to turn, who could help me. I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the things I’m now getting help with. So yeah, I have taken all the steps myself, but it is Hannah who has pointed me in the right direction and helped me to stop running away from things. She’d come and see me an hour before meetings; we’d go through anything that was stressing me out. I’d rant at her before the meetings, so that I was calm in the actual meeting. And then I would talk to social services about things, rather than rant at them, which is how I worked before.
Marie: What are your hopes for the future?
V: I want to keep building my relationship with my eldest, who will turn 17 before the end of this year. In the long term, I want my youngest back in my care.* My house is so empty – I would love to have my family there.
*While some women who work with Pause do eventually have their children returned to their care, this is not an aim of the Pause Programme. Find out more about our model and how we work with women here.