Campaigner says women need more support when their children are placed into care

Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women In Need.
Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women In Need.
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More needs to be done to support women who have children taken from them - claims women's campaigner.

Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said sadly she was not shocked by figures which showed one city mother had a total of nine children removed by social services.

The figures, which were compiled by BBC Newcastle, found that over the past 20 years the highest number of children taken from a Sunderland mum was nine, this was the same figure for County Durham and in Newcastle, one woman had a total of 17 children removed from her care.

Although the reasons for the removal of children had not been revealed, childcare charity, Barnardo's, said the most common reasons for mothers losing their kids are domestic abuse in the home, drug and alcohol misuse and mental health issues.

Ms Phillipson said: "It can be utterly tragic for the woman and some of the cases break my heart.

"When a baby is removed by social services, no matter how justified the reasons might be, it is a huge bereavement for the mother.

"A lot of women who have a baby removed want a replacement for that child and fall pregnant again and so begins a horrible, horrible cycle of pregnancies and babies being removed."

The campaigner said in other circumstances where a mother loses a child, there is a lot of support and comfort for them, but for women who have their children taken into care, even if it is not their fault, there is no after care at all.

She said: "What these women need is sympathy not condemnation. We need more support in place to help them through the grief and to make changes."

Ms Phillipson said a lot of the women who have their babies removed are victims of domestic violence or have had abusive childhoods.

Research looking at family court records found that, in 2013, 2,018 babies were taken into care at birth or soon afterwards, up from 802 in 2008.

The study Vulnerable Birth Mothers and Recurrent Care Proceedings, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that between 2007 and 2014 a total of 13,248 babies were removed by the authorities.

Sian Bufton, assistant director with children's services for Barnardo's, said the case of the mum who had 17 children taken was "exceptional."

She said that she hoped the charity's Pause project, which was founded in Hackney to help reduce the number of "repeat removals," will stop the situation arising again when it opens in Newcastle.

Ms Bufton said: "I think she is an exception, I don't think anyone else in Newcastle has reached anywhere near that figure and hopefully in the future there will not be any more because we will have been able to deliver this service.

"It is likely she would have had difficulties such as domestic abuse, mental health problems, a chaotic lifestyle, possibly substance misuse."