Charity bid to reduce number of St Helens children in care

Janine Saleh (centre) with the Pause St Helens team
Janine Saleh (centre) with the Pause St Helens team
Share this article

A national charity which aims to reduce the number of children taken into care has launched in St Helens.

Pause St Helens, a joint venture between the charity Pause and St Helens Council, is the first Pause practice in Merseyside working with women who have experienced, or are at risk of, repeat removals of children from their care. Pause aims to break the cycle of repeat removal by intervening at a point when the women have no children in their care.

A team of five staff will work intensively with women to build therapeutic relationships underpinned by trust and respect, supporting women to rebuild their lives, their self-esteem and develop their aspirations.

This programme will greatly benefit the local authority with reduced numbers of children being taken into care, and also improve various outcomes including those around housing, health and criminal justice – with the potential to save tax payers millions of pounds a year.

An initial scoping exercise demonstrated the need for Pause in St Helens, identifying 56 women who between them had 213 children removed. Women affected by repeat removals often face multiple and interlinking challenges and the most common concerns identified for this group were domestic abuse, drug and alcohol misuse and mental health issues.

Supported by a number of partners including Merseyside Police, the Clinical Commissioning Group, and local drug and alcohol treatment service Change, Grow, Live (CGL), Pause St Helens helps women to find the time to focus on themselves. To do this, they are required to take the most effective form of reversible contraception during the intervention, thereby creating a space to pause, reflect, learn and aspire.

St Helens Council’s Assistant Director for Children’s Social Work Assessment, Fiona Woods, said: “The purpose of Pause is to prevent the damaging consequences of thousands more children being taken into care each year.

“The programme gives women the chance to pause and take control of their lives, breaking a destructive cycle that causes trauma to all involved.”

Janine Saleh, Pause St Helens’ Practice Lead added: “We have worked closely with our partners to identify women who we hope would benefit from working with the practice.

“The women who work with Pause can expect the time, space and support they need to make significant changes in their lives. We will support and encourage them and be there alongside them to celebrate their successes.”

Pause St Helens has even supported one woman to achieve her goal to secure voluntary work. When asked about how she felt at being offered the position she told her practitioner: “It’s taken all my life to try to prove to myself, and others who have put me down, that I could do it. When I met Pause, instantly my life changed, and I’ve achieved one of my biggest goals already. I’ve always wanted to work there but never had the confidence to do it before.”