A pilot scheme offering support to women at risk of removal of children* is being launched across North East Lincolnshire.

The Maternal Separation Support Services scheme – the first of its kind across the wider Humber and North Yorkshire Care Partnership – is being led by Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and NAViGO.

The aim of the programme is to provide support to affected women, many of whom suffer from poor mental health, improving the life chances of both them and their children.

The scheme offers specialist mental health support, but also aims to make significant savings for local authorities by reducing the risk of repeat removal of children and the associated care and legal costs.

NAViGO psychological therapist Josh Fletcher, who is leading the pilot, said: “There can be a lot of stigma associated with both schemes like this and the women involved in them.

“However, we recognise that there is an opportunity to improve the lives of these individual women but also break the cycle by reducing the chances of this occurring again.

“Not only does that improve situations for the individuals involved – both mothers and children – but also future generations, in reducing the risk of transgenerational trauma. 

“There are also benefits for local authorities and support agencies reducing the cost of additional care needs and legal proceedings, for example.”

National studies have shown that women who have had children removed from their care have often experienced domestic violence, mental health difficulties, substance misuse or have neurodevelopmental challenges.

Furthermore many of these women have had personal experiences of being in care or removed from their own care givers in their childhood.

Research shows that in many cases where women have experienced the removal of a child, there is an increased risk of repeated removal of any subsequent children from their care.

The pilot programme is initially funded for one year and is being delivered in partnership with NAViGO and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The service also works closely with national charity Safe Families who offer practical, emotional and advocacy support to women.

Referrals into the scheme can be made by any professional or professional agency involved in the woman's care.

The pilot programme is the latest addition to NAViGO’s maternal and perinatal mental health care which offers specialist support for mums and mums to be experiencing mental ill health as well as pre-conception advice, postpartum diagnosis and loss.

*up to 24 months old and up to 24 months post-adoption