I have been a Social Worker for nearly 41 years, 27 of which were working as a Family Court Social Worker (Children’s Guardian, Family Court Advisor and Independent Social Worker). I have also had substantial experience of working with people addicted to alcohol and drugs in a residential and community setting. I’ve undertaken three assessments during the past two years of mothers who were in Trevi House. The assessments were commissioned by three London Boroughs (Sutton, Wandsworth and Haringey). I was impressed with the work Trevi House did. All three mothers made a considerable amount of progress both with their addiction, developing their parenting skills and with other problems. All three had issues around domestic abuse. One of them is learning disabled. Trevi House took much longer to work with her and she made some very positive changes eventually. The mothers were closely monitored and Trevi House was able to give a good assessment of their skills as a parent. Trevi House set up an aftercare package for all three women. I know from my own experience of working with addicts and alcoholics that this is vital if people are to remain in recovery. Two of the mothers remained living in Plymouth and a support package was set up using the Sunflower project. As well as providing support a plan was developed for ongoing monitoring with the some clear indicators to assess the potential for relapse. The manager at Haringey did question whether a community assessment would be better at one point but she agreed to continue with the placement at Trevi House, on my advice. It does seem to me to make much more sense to assess a parent with their child/ren rather than separate them, providing this can be done safely. I was impressed with the close monitoring Trevi House provided. The paramount concern for the staff at Trevi House was the welfare of the child/ren. I think Trevi House, together with an ISW assessment, would provide more than enough evidence for a Court. In terms of finance while it may initially cost more the success of the parents I assessed meant there were less costs in the long term. In terms of the child’s welfare the outcome was much better. All three mothers had a lot to offer their children once they were off the drugs/alcohol. That will not, of course, always be the case!
“In early 2012; following two decades of chaotic behaviour, dysfunctional relationships, social isolation, a failed career and two older children in long term foster care, I began to consider the option of specialist residential treatment for myself and my third baby who was then four months old. Trevi seemed to offer me the opportunity to deal with my addiction and all its associated life problems in a safe environment where I could remain with my beloved child. The admission process was thorough and friendly and staff were more than happy to talk to me on the phone regularly to update me on the date for my admission. Whilst at Trevi, I was able to concentrate on dealing with the issues that had led to my past behaviours whilst staff supported my parenting. I was treated as an individual and was always involved in planning care for my child and myself. Staff supported me to gradually reduce and then stop my prescribed antidepressants and facilitated mediation sessions for me to discuss arrangements for my child with my son’s father. They also attended social services meetings in my hometown with me in order to support me in speaking up for myself. All my years of substance abuse had eroded my ability to participate in social activities. Being at Trevi helped me in terms of beginning to integrate socially and staff were able to role model appropriate positive behaviour for me to emulate. I was assisted to plan for my future and to problem solve rather than adopt my old defeatist attitudes. Unfortunately, as I was reaching the end of my treatment, I lapsed whilst on a home visit. Consequently, my placement was terminated and my baby made the subject of an interim care order and placed in foster care. The day I left Trevi without my child was one of the hardest of my life, but the staff there did not stop supporting me. Despite being discharged, I had daily phone contact with staff who encouraged me to access local support groups and to continue to strive for my child and myself. They also facilitated alcohol testing for me at Trevi whilst I was in the community and offered valuable pep talks when my situation seemed hopeless My keyworker from Trevi continued providing me with therapeutic support at regular intervals and wrote progress statements to the family court as well as preparing to give evidence at the final hearing. I believe as a staff team they went beyond their responsibilities to me and continued that support even when it looked as if I would never be reunited with my child. Happily, I was eventually reunited with my baby and Trevi have continued to provide therapeutic support to me and to care for my child in their onsite nursery during my sessions. I am now contentedly living drug and alcohol free in the community, working part time and enjoying being able to be fully present while my son grows up. It is my strongly held belief that were it not for the support of Trevi, I would not have my child with me now and be able to function in society today.”
“7 Months before coming to Trevi (January 2012) I relapsed on Drugs and Alcohol I was 6 months pregnant with my 5th child, my Drug and Alcohol use was out of control I was scared to ask for help in case social services used it against me as none of my other 4 children lived with me I didn’t want my 5th to go into care as well. But 9 weeks into my relapse I admitted to professionals I’d been drinking and using. My drugs worker booked me into a detox centre where I went on to a waiting list I waited 6 weeks and then was given my date to go in. I was 8 half months pregnant when I went in, 4 days into my detox I went into labour. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy the moment I saw him I knew everything was going to be alright. I had to make sure of it my son was relying on me. I completed my detox and then went to a dry house, my son went into foster care at this time, whilst there I worked on my substance misuse and parenting completing courses in the community for about 3 months. When this finished I asked my social worker about going to a mother and baby unit, she agreed and I came to Trevi House with my son. I was nervous and anxious and excited to be able to have the opportunity to be with my son something I thought would never had happened. Thanks to Trevi this was possible. I came to Trevi a very angry person but since I have been here and worked through my issues, I am a different person. I am a better mum and I now believe in myself again it’s also made me become a more caring and understanding person, I now know that I am a nice person and I deserve to be loved and without Trevi I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have a future now that’s full of excitement and a new journey has begun for me and my son. I really do owe Trevi my life. The next part of my journey is for me and my son to move into our new flat and make it our home. We’ll take each day as it comes but the future I want for me and my son is a lot brighter now.”
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