Article | Fabulous Women

A Ticking Time bomb. The cost? Another child needlessly dies.

Posted on 24/04/2012

2012 welcomed the New Year with Kimberley Hainey, a 37 year old mother receiving a life sentence for killing her 15 month old son and neglecting her dead child for a further eight months, causing the body to become mummified.

The death of Baby Hainey has caused the usual uproar with some members of the public baying for the mothers blood, referring to her as evil/monster when in fact, this mother suffered post natal depression, had a chronic alcohol and heroin addiction and was clearly not thinking rationally.

Any chronic drug addict does not think rationally because the ultimate goal is their next fix. There is no doubt that Hainey loved her son, but she loved her heroin much more. When she realised she could not cope with the responsibilities of a parent, she developed a fantasy that her son was fine and she was a good mother because she loved him. What makes this scenario so heart-wrenching is that this level of deprivation is preventable and Baby Haineys death was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Just three years ago in Dundee, we had the tragic case of little Brandon Cunningham beaten and stamped on by Robert Cunningham, boyfriend of drug addict Heather Boyd. She had been Street working to fund her heroin addiction the night her 23 month old was battered to death. Her childs body was found with at least 40 injuries, including bruising and four fractured ribs. Social workers had missed the warning signs, health visitors and doctors failed to detect them.

Earlier this year in a report in the Daily Mail, the journalist calls for a change in policy toward drug addicts and their children. DiversityInCare Ltd aims to spearhead a much needed change. Our charity aims to open a residential drug rehab and parenting unit for women to get stabilized on a community detox and in time, re-unite with their children. In some cases the child can remain together while the mother gets treatment and support.

Some women may never kick their heroin, alcohol or crack addiction but research has shown that six out of10 women who get the full support needed, do very well in their recovery and go on to be a good parent and a productive member of the community. Surely it makes sense for the government to encourage and support skilled charities to work in partnership with Social services instead of condemning an overstretched and under-resourced agency.

Asfounderof DiversityInCare Ltd I have been banging on doors about these issues since 2005. I am campaigning for a change in Government Policy that recognises the benefits, to mother and child, a residential rehab and parenting unit can provide. Supporting women this way means a child stays with its mother, has a stable start in life, has an emotionally supportive environment and gives the mother the skills and support mechanisms vital to prevent this kind Baby Hainey type of ticking time bomb. The team at DiversityInCare are engaging substance misusers most at risk. This will take the pressure off of statutory agencies and provides a needs-led service, which can operate at a fraction of the price to the tax payer. Currently, a chaotic family can cost the tax payer up to 250,000per annum. If a family can get the vital support needed, over 12 months the cost to the taxpayer, a mere 17,000per annum.

To date, more than 20 residential rehabs have closed due to Public sector cuts and the number continue to grow. The NSPCC, in a recent report (2011), states that 19,500 babies under the age of one year are living with a parent who has used Class A drug in the last 12months. 93,500 under the age of one year lives with a parent who is a problem drinker and 144,000 babies live with a parent who has a common mental health problem.

In an NTA Report as far back as 2006, it stated that women who suffered substance misuse and multiple issues are under-served in the UK. Social services are at their wits end with more and more children on their books suffering neglect and in some cases, violent abuse because one or both parents have substance misuse problems. Time ticks away and we still dont resolve the issues.

The Rise and Rise of Designer drugs

Another ticking time bomb is the arrival of Designer Drugs also known as Party Drugs which is having an unprecedented effect on another under-served community, LBGT(Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender} With fast selling Legal Highs entering the UK, there has been serious concerns over the high levels of drug use especially amongst the young LBGTs.

We know that men having unprotected sex with other men are at an increased risk of contracting HIV. One of the LBGTs fantastic success stories has been practicing safe sex, hence reducing the rate of HIV infection. Unfortunately in the last few years there has been a decrease in safe sex practices. The rise of Party Drugs amongst younger LBGTs has been responsible for the recent decrease in safe sex practices.

People who use these designer drugs are often unaware of the side effects and the level of addiction which is hard to kick once started. The Party Drugs Clinic at The South London Maudsley Hospital was opened in 2009. Medical professionals are seeing clients that have serious addictions that really need to be addressed in a specialized rehab unit. Unfortunately, as with female addicts recent public sector cuts and a lack of funding means there is nowhere to refer clients for qualitative treatment.

The news comes as club drug use among young Brits soarslast year an estimated 300,000 aged 16-24 took the stimulant Mephedron, known in the UK as "meow-meow." This trend mirrors a worldwide rise in use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) that was recently reported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to a report in the Guardian Newspaper, Health Editor, Sarah Boseley reports, referrals to the clinic range from a 19 year old, who started snorting Mephedron three years ago; he is now spending 140.00 per week which causes fatigue and has affected his academic performance. The report goes on, a 31 year old woman, who excelled to spending 600 per month on Ketamine. Her addiction led to ulcers forming on the inside of her bladder, which caused her to pass blood. She may need her bladder removed.

Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, founder of the Club Drug Clinic said "If someone is using a substance and not having any problems with it, our clinic is not the place for them. We are not making any judgment about people's drug use. The resource is for people who run into trouble."

The taxpayer takes the strain

The stark reality is the lack of support for women in the Criminal Justice System. Since the Corston Report was written, various charities, campaigns and support services have made commendable strides to cater to women who end up in prison. Most women going to prison are firs-time, non-violent offenders. The majority of women are imprisoned for non-violent offences usually drug related crime. Most of the women end up on remand and spend less than 12 months in prison awaiting trial.

This commonplace incarceration costs the taxpayer 286million, excluding healthcare or education. The majority are shop-lifters, substance misusers and some with mental health issues. Many of those women are victims themselves, living in fear of sexual abuse, domestic violence and fear of having their children taken away.

Imprisoning mother(s) for non-violent offences carries a cost to children and taxpayers of more than 17m over a 10 year period. According to the Bromley Report, December 2011; prisoners families are vulnerable to financial instability, poverty, debt and potential housing disruption. It is estimated that the average personal cost to the family and relatives of a prisoner is 175 per month.

The other sad reality is that nearly 18,000 children are separated from their mothers whilst she is in prison. This adds to a mother's anxiety and she sometimes, develops mental health issues - some even self-harm because of the guilt at losing their children - . Only 5% of children separated from their mothers stay with family members. Most children are placed in care. Once again, a child placed in care can cost the taxpayer 38,000 per annum. The future of a child placed in care is more likely to suffer mental health issues, under-achieve in schools, become addicted to drugs or alcohol and in many cases, go on to offend themselves.

The recent Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle, encourages more Smart Thinking in relation to prison sentences for women, placing women on remand and women getting the support they need when they leave prison. Transitional units would make a huge difference for those women who leave prison with no fixed abode especially those women who wish to re-integrate in society.

Your support is needed. The campaign will take hold in a few months so there is time voice your opinion and how you may wish to support DiversityInCare Ltd. Time ticks away. Lets hope we can resolve these issues.

Angela Edmondson

CEO & Founder
DiversityInCare Ltd
angela@diversityincare.org

Back Author : Charlie Thomas

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