An anonymous diary entry by one of Circle’s family support workers, who has had a busy week supporting parents and their children.
Names have been changed
I travel to the prison as I have three support meetings with fathers who are soon to be released into the community.
I have been assisting one dad in resuming contact with his son, as he had previously not seen him for 18 months. This decision had been influenced by domestic violence incidents at home. The dad has been engaging with fathering and parenting work and at the most recent Children’s Hearing a decision was made for contact to be resumed. As part of the plan I will support the arrangement of supervised contacts on the dad’s release and we agree a plan on when this will take place.
I meet with the other two dads and we discuss and explore influencing factors on their behaviour in the community, the impact on their children and family and what factors can promote more positive choices that can help minimise the potential for reoffending. We discuss and agree upon individual support plans upon release, identifying key areas of support such as contact with their children, accessing appropriate housing and benefit support.
I leave the prison and meet with Mary who is eight months pregnant. Mary’s partner Andrew is due to be released from prison in two months’ time. Andrew has been involved in behaviours that are considered to be violent and is a dad who requires significant support in coping with and managing his mental health and addiction issues. Andrew requires a support plan for transition to the community which explores and identifies ongoing sources of help and assistance. Mary and I discuss what support can be provided and she agrees to weekly meetings with myself and the health visitor. I also discuss with Mary how her and Andrew can get help to maintain their relationship, something which they both would like. We agree that Mary will be supported to begin exploring parenting strategies for her and Andrew upon release. Andrew will be linked into Mellow Dads with Sure Start.
After this I meet with Jack and his seven year old son for their monthly contact. Both Jack and Sam have wanted to go fishing together so that is the plan for today. Jack is supportive and encouraging of Sam and helps him set up his rod and put on the bait……and then the waiting begins! Before too long the exciting wait proves to be successful and Sam pulls a three pound trout from the Loch J Jack and Sam are ecstatic and photos are taken. No more fish take the bait but still a happy ending to this outing.
I drop Jack off at his home and then take Sam home. I have a chat with Sam’s Gran, who is his kinship carer, about how the contact is going and agree future contact arrangements.
First thing this morning I visit Robert who has recently been released from prison. Robert hasn’t been paid his benefits and requires support to access the Food Bank, sadly an often used and needed resource for our families. We follow this up by making arrangements with social work for Robert to be provided with an electricity payment to address his immediate financial difficulties.
We meet with Children and Families Social Work to review Robert’s participation in ‘Caring Dads’ which is run by the local authority. Robert has been doing incredibly well and has attended all sessions. The outcome of Robert’s motivation and commitment to this programme has led to a decision of contact with his son being brought forward. Robert is anxious about this as it has been a long time since he has had contact, but in discussion he is able to recognise the positive work that he has done to reach this point. Social Work recognises that Robert has been motivated in addressing his drug and alcohol use and is engaging with all supports and services. We leave on a confident note knowing that plans are being progressed positively.
I attend a Core Group Meeting this afternoon with Michael and Jenny who are parents to two year old Joe who is currently on the Child Protection Register. Joe currently lives with kinship carers; his parents have daily supervised contact. I have been involved for three months with support being focussed on parenting and addressing substance use. The Core Group was an opportunity to review support plans and recognition was given to the improvement of engagement with services from both parents. There was an agreement that moving forward there would be a plan to have one overnight per week for Joe with his parents. Both parents are delighted with this outcome. After the meeting we undertook a planned outing for the family to the Five Sisters Zoo ……a great time was had by all!
I ended a busy but positive day with a quick catch up on some admin..
The pace of the work can often feel quite hectic so it is good to be able to spend the morning in the office……a chance to be able to catch up on recording case notes and following up with phone calls.
I receive a phone call from a Children and Families Social Worker regarding a family that we are supporting. It has come to their attention that Eric, the father, has assaulted his ex-partner at her home and it is understood that the incident took place whilst the children were present and the mother was holding her youngest child. I am informed that the police are currently looking for Eric. I go to Eric’s home and his mother is there and she is distraught regarding the incident. After spending some time providing emotional support to Eric’s mother she informs me of where Eric may be. Eric’s mother has my contact number and I ask if she manages to contact him could he call me. Shortly after leaving Eric’s mother’s home he calls me and he would like to meet locally. I meet with Eric who is distraught and anxious and he offers his opinion on the incident that took place. I spend a couple of hours with Eric and as time goes by he does become calmer and is in a position to acknowledge that he needs to make a decision on how he can address this incident and his role and responsibility. Eric has had frequent previous charges for resisting arrest and makes the decision to present himself at the police station to avoid any issues with this.
I am able to update social work on Eric presenting himself at the police station in regards to this incident. I contact his mum and let her know of Eric’s decision.
I head into the office to catch up with admin and Intrelate (our information management system). I then visit Frankie, son of Jack and brother of Sam who I had met earlier in the week. Frankie is 16 and is a new father of twins. There have been child protection concerns regarding the twins’ wellbeing due to the volatile relationship between Frankie and the twins’ mum, Molly, and their vulnerabilities as young parents and being able to understand the emotional impact of becoming parents when they are both still teenagers. At this stage, until relationship work can be undertaken with the parents, they have agreed that they will not see each other, recognising the fragility of their relationship. However, Frankie’s dad has said that they are still seeing each other. In order to try and promote Frankie’s involvement and participation in discussions with social work, I speak with him about this and we are able to agree in contacting the Children and Families Social Worker. From this, the Social Worker makes arrangements to meet with both Frankie and Molly that same day. The conversation with Frankie explores and agrees identified times and dates for ongoing supervised contact for Frankie with his children to build upon his relationship with them. After this discussion I chat with Frankie about his feelings and the best way forward to support him as a young father and also in developing his own skills and confidence. Frankie would like to explore college courses so I agree to arrange a meeting with a college advisor for a career guidance session in the coming days. I agree with Frankie to support him to attend this..
I meet with Scott at his home and we talk about promoting harm reduction regarding Scott’s alcohol use. Scott acknowledges that his alcohol use is having an impact on not only him, but his whole family. We explore the positive measures Scott has developed in the past that have been successful for him and find strengths in what has worked previously and how he can implement these in his daily life again. In conversation with Scott he was insightful of the difficulties his family experiences when he relapses and he is determined to address the challenges and identify goals that will promote a healthier lifestyle for him and his family. Scott believes that having goals he can work towards contributes to making positive change. We agree to explore employment and/or educational opportunities that can help improve his wellbeing and provide him with routine to his days.
I meet with Eric’s mum in the afternoon and reassure her that I will provide ongoing support to Eric, who is back in prison. Eric’s mum is anxious about the impact of his most recent assault and about her contact and relationships with her grandchildren. Previously when a domestic incident has taken place it has impacted upon contact, however, it is recognised that she is seen as a positive person in the children’s lives and ongoing contact should be maintained. Eric’s mum feels more reassured when I am leaving and is aware that Eric will receive support within the prison and that she will be supported in maintaining her relationships with the grandchildren.
After this, a few quick calls are made, and that’s me……another busy week at its end.