Bristol needs Pause. The city, sadly, has a high number of women who have had children permanently removed. Often these women face significant disadvantages which make motherhood especially challenging for them. What I have seen with the Pause pilot is women beginning to feel valued, building confidence and self-esteem so that they can start taking control of their lives and engage in the services they need.
Of the 23 women Pause Bristol is currently working with, 100% had experienced domestic abuse, 65% struggle with substance misuse and 91% have mental health needs. But in the last 18 months: three have got jobs; five are in education, training or searching for jobs; five are no longer street homeless. These are huge changes for otherwise vulnerable and extremely isolated women.
Children’s lives are also improved: four women were supported to start writing to their children and ten to attend supervised contact with their children. Removing children into care is not only very costly; it can have a devastating impact on children and can traumatise mothers who often go on to further pregnancies which they are not ready or equipped to cope with. It’s estimated so far that Pause has helped to prevent 14 pregnancies. This translates to a saving of £1,060,000 in terms of the costs of placing those children into care.
Councillor Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, told me:
“The Mayor and I have seen first-hand the positive impact Pause has had on the lives of these women in a short period of time. The outcomes we have seen for those women show a real transformation that offers them greater opportunity to lead healthy and happy lives.
“There is also a wider benefit with a decreased need for health and social care service interventions. This funding will sustain the project until May 2020 and will also provide the programme with opportunities to seek alternative funding from more sustainable sources and continue the excellent work they are doing in Bristol.”
We’re really proud to be hosting the programme here at One25 and we look forward to the next 18 month phase.