In this section
Amy* is 28 and has a history of heroin use and related offending since she turned 18. She was referred to the Women’s Support Centre at the end of her Drug Rehabilitation Requirement and Supervision order.
Amy was pregnant with her first child and had just started a methadone programme. She was in temporary accommodation because of abuse from the father of her unborn child. Her child was subsequently placed on a Child Protection Plan due to her history of drug abuse and domestic abuse from the father.
Amy gave birth to a girl. When her daughter was 6 months old Amy started a relationship with Andy, whom she has known for many years. Andy has a history of heroin use but was engaged with a methadone programme. Amy completed her treatment plan and was free of any drug use (illegal or prescribed).
Amy became pregnant again, Social Services were very concerned and Amy came under increasing pressure to end her relationship with Andy. Due to her fear of losing her children she lapsed into heroin use and so did Andy. Amy told us about this immediately and voluntarily agreed to an interim care order for her daughter (who stayed in foster care for 3 weeks) and accessed treatment again. She was then placed with her daughter in a mother and baby foster placement with a family 50 miles away. She had her second daughter whilst in placement. Andy was sentenced to custody for burglary of commercial premises.
Amy faced many challenges throughout the process of working with Social Services, and worked very hard to overcome the barriers. She belongs to a big family with a culture of mistrust of services and found it hard to believe that Social Services were there to support her.
Women in Prison's Women Support Centre in Woking worked together with Amy focussing on her communication and consequential thinking skills. With support, Amy wrote her own reports for meetings to ensure she got her views across without becoming frustrated. Amy looked at her beliefs around the role of Social Services and was able to rationalise some of them and discount others which helped her see things from the point of view of her social worker, even if she disagreed.
Over time Amy was able to identify what she does well and areas that she needs support in without feeling that she was being judged. At the end of her placement Social Services recommended that she attended a residential rehab programme.
Amy and her two daughters returned home under a supervision order. After difficultly settling in, WIP helped secure funding and Amy is now in residential drug rehab with both her daughters and is doing very well.
Amy identified the following as positives from working with the Women’s Support Centre:
- Being supported by a non-statutory agency through the whole process, even when placed a distance away;
- Having the consistency throughout despite changes in other agencies;
- Being supported in the belief that someone can change regardless of their background;
- Being supported to have a voice through a difficult and confusing process;
- Having someone to speak on her behalf when things became difficult;
- Accessing women-only services especially in relation to her drug recovery;
- Being treated like a ‘normal’ person!
*Names have been changed