More Support for women in Brighton & Hove who have had a child removed from their care
In February 2022, with the launch of the Fulfilling Lives report on the complex and multi-faceted needs of women in Brighton and Hove who have had children removed from their care following involvement with family courts, Oasis Project outlined the importance and value of the Looking Forward service.
Oasis is delighted to announce that we have successfully secured joint funding for Looking Forward which will enable us to continue and expand delivery of this vital service.
Funding has been confirmed from Brighton & Hove City Council via the Office for Health Inequalities and Disparities (OHID) grant as part of the Government’s new Drug Strategy; and from the Office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (OSPCC) via an MoJ grant aiming to increase provision for victims of Domestic Abuse.
Government Drug Strategy: from Harm to Hope
In April 2022 the Government released a new 10-year Drug Strategy to tackle drug related crime and reduce the number of drug-related deaths. Part of this includes an aim to deliver a world class treatment and recovery system through increasedinvestment to rebuild local authority commissioned substance misuse services, improving quality, capacity and outcomes for people affected by drug and alcohol misuse.
Looking Forward sits within our women-only substance misuse service, which works well because 89% of Looking Forward clients report they have experienced problems with drugs or alcohol. Substances may be used to soothe or cope with historic or current trauma, and substance use is often a contributing factor to family separation. Difficult feelings and emotions are often further exacerbated by the loss, guilt and shame following family separation, in turn increasing the risk of harm from substances. Due to a combination of these factors, coupled with a loss of trust in services, it is not uncommon for women to be without targeted support around substance use.
Through investment into Brighton and Hove via OHID, Looking Forward can now continue to use a specialist approach to establish and build relationships with women who have had children removed from their care and provide harm minimisation, promote recovery and alternatives ways to cope with circumstances to support women to build hope for their future.
Building Trust, Enhancing Safety
We recognise that women accessing Looking Forward experience multiple challenges and significantly high rates of Domestic Abuse. Nationally, Broadhurst et al (2017) found 87.5% of women with children removed also experienced Domestic Abuse, and locally it was found that 93% with multiple and complex needs experience Domestic Abuse (Fulfilling Lives, 2021). The Fulfilling Lives report noted that whilst women using the Looking Forward Service develop trust and in time may disclose violence and abuse to their Looking Forward practitioner, it often takes time – and support from Looking Forward – for women to link in with dedicated domestic abuse services.
The match funding secured via OSPCC means we can recruit for a second Looking Forward practitioner whose role will take a focus on supporting women in the Looking Forward cohort with experience of Domestic Abuse. This role will mean the service can harness the expertise of Looking Forward and provide bespoke safety planning, advocacy, emotional and practice support to women experiencing Domestic Abuse. This will ensure that Looking Forward is able to enhance the safety of women who have had children removed from their care, whilst building trust and bridging gaps between them and dedicated Domestic Abuse services and responses in the city such as RISE and Victim Support.
Professional Consultancy, System Change
Looking Forward is committed to contributing to wider system change locally and nationally to improve outcomes for women who have had children removed from their care. As part of this, professionals working in Brighton and Hove with women who have had children removed from their care are welcome to contact the service for professional advice and signposting.
Oasis Project will also hold a bi-monthly roundtable discussion on working with women who have had their children removed for local professionals and leaders to discuss best practice, and ways to strengthen approaches and systems. Looking Forward welcomes these opportunities to collaboratively share knowledge to widen the reach of its expertise and improve the lives for women locally.
This welcomed investment into the Looking Forward service will
- – Reduce women’s experiences of harm
- – Contribute to preventing the premature deaths women who have already experienced such significant hardship and difficulty
- – Provide women with opportunities to establish stability in their lives and instil hope for the future.
- – Contribute to mothers being able to maintain some form of contact with their children, which supports children and families also coping with loss and family separation.
Oasis Project would like to thank BHCC and OHID as well as our partners and peers in the local community for their support of Looking Forward. Without it, this vital service would not have been able to continue.
We are currently recruiting for our second Looking Forward Practitioner. Interested? Take a look at our current vacancies page for more information.