Social services said: “we can provide a home for your daughter, but not you.” Homeless women live in fear of having their kids removed

Am transcribing interviews atm – here’s an excerpt from one.

I’m posting this to show again that homeless mothers who ask councils for housing help feel that councils are always threatening to remove their children.

I doubt the well-appointed classes know this fear.

The woman in this interview is Marsha, 30. Her daughter is five. They live together in a single room in a Newham homelessness hostel.

Marsha said that social services told her that they could take her daughter while Marsha “sorted herself out.”

Marsha said that social services frightened her badly with that statement. The council wouldn’t tell her where her daughter might be placed:

“… [they said] it could be anywhere – she’ll just be with, you know, an authorised adult who is eligible to care for her until you sort yourself out.”

Marsha and her daughter in the one room in their hostel

So many of the homeless mothers I talk with live in fear that their council will remove their kids.

They believe that asking councils for housing help is a risk for that reason.

Forget the council’s “we’ll give your child back when you’ve sorted yourself out,” line.

Women worry that they’ll never see their kids again once they’ve been taken into care.

They also know that they’re a long way away from sorting themselves out – from finding housing that is decent, secure and affordable. The only way to secure such housing really is to suddenly come into money. Nobody holds out much hope for that.

Marsha and her daughter were sofa-surfing when Marsha approached the council for housing help.

Marsha was desperate. She was even more desperate when she thought the council might take her daughter. Such are the fears that homeless mothers must deal with as a matter of course.

Said Marsha:

“Social services is telling me – “oh, we can provide a home for your daughter, but not for you.”

“So I am scared. Social services literally said that to me when I first went to social services…I was literally going to Belgrave Court [a homelessness hostel in Newham].

“They said to me that what we can do is we take [your daughter] and we can look after her for you until you sort yourself out and then you can come back and get her.”

“I said if you take [my daughter], can you tell me where she’s going to be?”

“They said – oh no, it could be anywhere. She’ll just be with, you know, an authorised adult who is eligible to care for her until you sort yourself out.”

“I said – “it’s in my child’s best interests for her to be with me. I’m the only person that she knows.”

I’d ask Newham council for comment on this, except that the council has blacklisted me. Too bad for the council. I have a lot more on this story.

5 thoughts on “Social services said: “we can provide a home for your daughter, but not you.” Homeless women live in fear of having their kids removed

  1. You highlight a very real problem here Kate, in the world of future access to social support of any kind.
    Be it for housing, Universal Credit or whatever. The system deliberately restricting access to services. Either through direct refusal, or the psychological pressure not to engage with the system, in case something worse happens.
    Homeless women worried about keeping their children, and desperate Universal Credit claimants being fobbed-off with officially produced ‘Deflection Scripts.’

    • Yes. I’ve talked with a few women now who haven’t wanted to ask for discretionary housing payments for rent help from councils, for example, because they’ve been too worried about drawing council attention to their financial problems. That threat of social services getting involved looms large in many minds.

  2. Pingback: Homeless mothers: we feel the ever-present threat of social services and losing our kids. That’s how they keep people quiet | Kate Belgrave

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.