In this edition of our Real Lives series we meet Paula* and learn how the positive intervention of Re-Unite Mothers programme and multi-agency support teams supported her to get her son back through social services and the UK family justice system.

Mother battles drug addiction to win back sonAcknowledgement that rehabilitation is possible

Following a history of re-offending Paula* was last sentenced to prison in 2009, for using crack, petty theft and shoplifting, Her son was born after her release and he stayed in foster care until Paula was referred to residential rehabilitation. She was subject to an interim care order with Social Services with the view to her entering Re-Unite’s Mother and Children’s Programme after rehabilitation with her 13-month-old son. The independent social worker expressed concerns that there was a risk that Paula’s son could be removed permanently.

The Re-Unite Support Worker attended court with Paula and explained the project and what support would be offered. After lengthy consideration of the care package, both Social Services and the legal team decided to “give Paula a chance”.

Strict conditions were imposed including Paula’s commitment to a multi-agency care plan and a drug intervention programme, and Paula was allowed to move to the project.

Keeping engaged with the Re-Unite Project

Both the Court and Social Services commented that this decision would not have been possible without the presence and intervention of Re-Unite and that, from their experience, the child would ordinarily have been put into foster care.

Six weeks into the programme, both Paula and her son were doing extremely well. This has been a great credit to the hard work that Paula and her Support Worker have put into the support sessions and through this Paula has built up a good support network.

Looking forward to a positive outcome

At Paula’s next court hearing , both Judge and Counsel praised Paula and acknowledged the valuable work of the project. And the final court hearing was brought forward as a direct result of Paula’s positive progress.

*name changed for confidentiality