Kristina self-referred into Women’s Work in July 2020. Kristina indicated on her referral that she needed support with mental health, accommodation, finance benefit and debt, and families and relationships.
At her initial assessment Kristina presented in an angered way with a distrust for professionals. Kristina shared that initially she had asked for support from Social Services, and felt instead of helping her they had judged her and removed her two children (12 and 4) from her care under the category of neglect-emotional harm, and placed them in foster care. Kristina felt she had been unfairly punished and Social Services had not given her a chance and that the Social Worker involved with her had ‘set her up to fail’.
Initially Kristina did not take any responsibility for how her parenting style may have affected the children, she also did not recognise how her own upbringing and personal traumas had impacted on her mentally. It was clear that Kristina loved her children but she had never learnt how to love herself and look after her own mental health. As trust was built with Kristina and her project worker through 1-to-1 support, Kristina began to share her experience with domestic violence and abuse that she had suffered as a child, which was not disclosed by her at the time of referral or initial assessment.
Kristina also shared that she was having some financial issues; she was not sure her Universal Credit amount was correct, she was getting bedroom tax on her property (for the children’s two bedrooms now empty) and she did not have access to a debit card due to some issues with her bank which made paying her bills difficult.
How we helped
With the help of her project worker, access to Kristina’s online Universal Credit account was established and more was learnt about the extent of her debt, including rent arrears of £2000, utility debt, water debt and council tax arrears. Her project worker was able to put a referral into Derby Advice, where as a Derby Homes tenant she could access support from the Welfare Rights team.
The Welfare Rights Advisor was able to work with Kristina to contact her debtors and arrange payment plans in order to reduce her debt. They also supported her to apply for PIP and aided her in filling out the paperwork and the court processes involved with it.
Next on the list to get sorted was accommodation – Kristina was in a difficult situation; without the 3 bedrooms it would be unlikely that she would have her children returned to her care without a place for them to sleep. With the 3 bedrooms she was dealing with an amount of debt that would only continue to grow the longer she was in the property.
Her project worker arranged a three-way appointment with Kristina’s Housing Officer and an Incomes Officer from Derby Homes. The outcome of this meeting was that Kristina’s accruing rent arrears would not prevent her from mutual exchanging or getting a smaller property. A referral to a Tenancy Sustainment Officer was also completed and she was allocated a worker from the Complex Needs team to help her with her housing issues and in June 2021 Kristina was offered a 1 bedroom flat.
With Kristina settled in to her new property and her financial and accommodation needs met, she could focus on working towards getting her children back. One of the suggestions from the social worker was for Kristina to complete parenting courses. Kristina was referred in to our four Positive Parenting courses by her project worker and she attended her first parenting course, Early Years (0-5) in January 2022.
Kristina engaged positively in the sessions and had many ‘lightbulb moments’; She began to recognise how her own experience of being parented negatively had affected her ability to positively parent her own children. Kristina went on to complete the Primary Years parenting course (5-11) and Teenage Years (11-18) and shared how she is now able to recognise and take responsibility for how her parenting style, and her shortcomings in looking after her own mental health and wellbeing, had negatively impacted on her children.
Kristina is now a much-changed individual, her anger and mis-trust in professionals has lessened and she is now able to ask for and accept help, which was something she could not do before. Her eldest child has been returned to her care and they are accessing joint therapy, something organised by Social Services which she admits is not something she would have agreed to at the time of her initial assessment back in 2020. Kristina’s youngest child is still in a foster placement at the moment but Kristina is now working with professionals to have him returned to her care.
Kristina presents now as someone who has taken responsibility for themselves and learnt that in order to support and provide her children with the correct care, she must support and care for herself too.