Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:17 pm

Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Z**** » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:47 pm


Dear Everyone

This is really long and complicated! I have managed to draw up a rough recovery and support plan for my solicitor (we haven't met yet).

Would anyone be able to read my draft and advise? I am really stressed and confused. My boys are 16, and 10 this situation is stressing everyone out.

Here we go, I hope it makes sense and any input or advice is much I've typed too much and would really appreciate your input and try to make it shorter?

Thank you xxxxxx



My health has improved dramatically, both mentally and physically. I have also been completely abstinent from alcohol for almost two months. My alcohol intake (I was drinking, within legal limits, not suffering from withdrawal symptoms etc - this was over a period of just over one year made worse by self medication) influenced by mental and emotional abuse and appeared to raise my confidence and self esteem.

Due to my 20years plus work experience in the voluntary and charity sector, I have extensive knowledge of voluntary and charity sector organisations. I have spent almost 10 years working with and for volunteers and have in-depth knowledge of the impact of volunteering. I am aware of what support is available for me in both volunteering and the voluntary sector. I have approached appropriate organisations as and when necessary, using my own initiative.

I have sought support from I***(Independent **** Alcohol Service), and C**** Safety Net for DV advice, awareness training and support. Both organisations have provided me with medication, outreach, advocacy and counselling. I attend group sessions for alcohol use, and continue to use their extensive services to help my recovery. Both organisations have provided me with extensive key worker support.

I see my GP fortnightly. He monitors my medication and mental wellbeing. My key workers and GP will ensure that their support will be transferred to similar services in ******, when I am ready.

I have learnt breathing and relaxation techniques to overcome my anxiety, and am now able to use ‘Mindfulness’ techniques and will continue to take ‘Antabuse/Disalfurum’ to maintain my abstinence.

As the physical and mental/emotional barriers have now been removed (the father of my children), I now have the confidence to continue my recovery, and to ensure that my children are supported both physically, mentally and emotionally, I will seek the help of ***** Drug Project’s “Family Focused Intervention” service in *****. I will, along with my children, access their family support services and will seek age appropriate interventions and one-to-one support that they provide. The intervention service also combines practical support around parenting strategies, health and wellbeing, school issues and mental health – with therapeutic and emotional support. This will ensure that the whole family recovers together and continues to improve and grow stronger - together.

For own my personal improvement, I will seek support from *****( Women’s Centre and have approached P**** Association (LA Area) for volunteering activities at **** School (LA Area) on Saturdays. (I will be accompanying my child). I can, and will seek support and services from both organisation, to build friendship/social networks that will further aid my recovery and help my mental, physical, practical and emotional needs.


I have a large family, and therefore have a lot of support available. At our FGC, two family members were identified, who could support me and my children personally (upto 3/6 months -, whichever is necessary), I have a brother and a niece who live in LA Area.

Due to lack of space, we cannot be accommodated as a family within our family network. Neither my family, ex- partner or children wish to be separated.


1. I, and my children (boys aged 16 and 10) need security and stability to ensure that we are able to continue living normally, without undue pressure and stress, which is what we are dealing with in our current living situation.

2. I, and my children require accommodation that is suitable and fit for purpose, in *****. This will enable my son's to remain at school/college, which is what they have expressed. In order for them to remain at school and to achieve the best possible outcomes and their potential, my son's need the presence of their mother. So housing is the core necessity at this present time. This would provide stability and security to ensure the family's future stability and happiness.

3. We, as a family unit have been placed within the maternal parental home in ****LA Area. This situation was temporary, but it is now nearly 5 months and results in:

- 10 year old son, being taxied to and from school every day. The journey time, is 45minutes to 1 hour each way. This makes my son very unhappy, as he spends upto 2 hours a day in a car, on his own. He does not like car journeys.

- Both boys have been suffering from stress and anxiety due to the current living conditions (overcrowding, lack of space, privacy and bathrooms). Including us, there are 13 people (6 children) living in a 5 bedroom house, with 1 bathroom! My teenager has been particularly emotional and suffers from mood swings, and emotional outbursts which, at times he breaks down and cries and says he is suicidal. One day he wants to stay with us another day he wants to leave and go into foster care!

- We have been in this situation since May 2016. The overcrowding has not helped me recover mentally, as I suffer from depression and anxiety. In a house with lots of people and noisy children - all under the age of 8, does not give me any space or time to think or be on my own. In fact the level of noise and pressure has increased my stress levels. In fact, it has severely impacted on both of my sons stress and emotional levels.

- Other family members are suffering due to this placement, includes a child with asthma sleeping on the floor in a small bedroom along with her parents and brother. Constant bickering and arguments with all children.

Family and environmental factors:

Housing - within 6 weeks:
"The family to be housed, together, in suitable accommodation within the *****"LA. Social worker has liaised with a housing officer and made an appointment (I confess that I had a drink at the meeting, and the matter is always brought up)! The housing officer tried to contact the social worker but not available) a second appointment was made in August, Mother traveled to *****, for appointment but not seen due to sickness of same housing officer. Mother emailed housing options, and made fresh application, has accepted by ***** Housing, with a banding 'C' which is of the lowest priority. I have since emailed both social workers and Harrow housing to say that this needs to be addressed quickly. Received text message to say that social worker busy, etc. No further contact.

Risk factors:

Mental Health of mother: Assessments taken place, mother continues to actively improve both physical and mental health and well-being.
Mental capacity has significantly improved due to the absence of Father. Housing situation and Children's Services involvement needs to improve to enable total recovery.

Addiction of alcohol: Mother taken initiative to ask Addiction Consultant for medication to help with alcohol. This medication makes the user have severe adverse effects if alcohol is consumed. All appointments and support groups have been attended as required. Total abstinence has been achieved during the past two months, and continues to do so in a positive manner.

Even under the tremendous stress that the current situation has taken, Mother is able to function normally, without alcohol. Mother has taken positive steps, such as looking into volunteering opportunities to enable her to regain her previous work skills, as well as continuing to grow in confidence and resilience.

Mother only has contact with father - when younger child wants to communicate with him.


All outline Plan issues made by Children’s Services have been addressed. Mother taken all necessary steps to ensure health and well being of her sons. Necessary support for mother (from **** Social Services) has not been forthcoming. Mother has complied with all components of the care plan, and has exceeded all expectations of Children's Services.


Surely it would be cheaper for ***** to house me and my children, and provide a temporary support worker or a key worker to ensure that my children are not subject to any risk which they aren't!

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:35 am

Dear Z,

Welcome to the Parents forum and thank you for your detailed post.

I can see that your boys are subject to a child protection plan due to the domestic abuse they witnessed, your alcohol use and mental health.

I am glad to see how well you are doing. You have put in a huge amount of work into your recovery and things seem very different now. You have found so much support from domestic violence services as well as support for your mental health and your past alcohol use.

I am glad that your efforts have been recognized. Keep working to the child protection plan and keep cooperating with the social worker.
I know it is frustrating that children services do not seem to be putting in as much effort as you. Did the chair of the conference note this? You could highlight this with your solicitor.

For your children to move from a child protection plan to either a child in need plan or no plan at all, the conference needs to have evidence that there is no longer an “ongoing” risk of your children being harmed. You are taking huge steps forwards that position. If you continue, could you argue for a child in need plan instead at the next review child protection conference?

You want to know whether to add anything further to assist your solicitor. The recovery plan you have prepared is very detailed and reflects the amount of work that you have done towards your children’s names coming off the child protection plan.
I expect your solicitor will want to see the social workers report for the child protection conferences, minutes and plans. S/he would also be interested in the Family plan made at the family group conference.

Your 16 year old son
What support is your son getting to deal with his mental health needs? You say he has expressed thoughts of suicide. Have you disclosed this to the social worker and to your GP? Given his age and the fact he is male puts him at higher risk so do not delay in getting an urgent assessment and support for him. Young Minds have a helpline for parents.

What is his view about being on a child protection plan? Has he had the opportunity to have the support of an advocate?

Housing needs

I can see that your current living arrangements are not helping your situation and your children are not being helped either by being homeless.

I don’t know what type of housing you had before you moved in with your extended family.
Is there a possibility of you being homeless due to fleeing domestic violence and you arguing for a managed transfer of your previous tenancy? Or if not, what else do you need to achieve more housing points? Or what about other housing solutions?
A domestic violence advocate might be able to help you make representations and advise you of your housing options. You could seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in homelessness and housing as well as the one you appear to be instructing in relation to children services.

You could find a solicitor in your area by searching on the Law Society-find a solicitor.

Or speak to Shelter about your situation.

Unfortunately, housing law is not within Family Rights Group expertise.

Please carry on with all you are doing. I hope my advice helps but if you do have any further questions, please post again.

Best wishes,


Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:17 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Z**** » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:42 am

Thank you very much Suzie!

In the meantime, a court hearing date looms over my head, making me really anxious!

Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:17 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Z**** » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:26 am

Hello Suzie

Thank you very much for your helpful comments!

Just to update you all. I had a court hearing for an emergency care order, to take my sons into temporary foster care. Both the judge and the legal guardian's solicitor was brilliant, and did not grant the order as:

1. My sons voices were not heard by an independent witness due to the very short timescale
2. The emergency that was stated was evident from the start of our placement in our family home

In the meantime, my continued abstinence from drinking was questioned and I have been asked to authorise the disclosure of my blood test results to the local authority (I did agree). My extremely helpful key worker from the Alcohol service told the local authority that this cannot be disclosed unless its in writing, have my permission and it has to be reviewed by the alcohol services's doctor. She also asked who would interpret the information as it would need someone medically qualified. My social worker lied and said that the court hearing was the next day! It is, in fact next week!!

Today, the social worker rang my elder son and asked him if he 'remembered that he said that he would like to go into Foster Care?" so my son replied 'no' I said i would consider it!

It sounds like they are running scared - wish me luck for my hearing next week!


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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1852
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:56 pm

Dear Z****

Thank you for the update and I am pleased that things appear to be going well and hope this will continue at the next hearing.

Continue with all that you are doing to address the concerns children services has regarding your family. It appears that your efforts are being taken into account.

Best of luck for next week.

Best wishes


Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:17 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Z**** » Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:16 pm

Dear All

I am in need of help again. The court rejected the Council's request for an emergency care order and will sit again on Thursday.

In the meantime I've been asked to provide names of family members who will agree to look after us (my kids) - I have provided 3 names to my solicitor, but have just thought. .... would my 16 year old son be able to put himself forward??!!

He is on the care plan, but he was 15 then.

Any ideas?


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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1852
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:05 pm

Hi Z***,

The court and children services will be looking for “connected people” (friends or family or anyone connected to your children) who will pass the strict criteria of a fostering assessment. See our advice sheet about what is needed to pass a fostering assessment.

Not only that, the law says that a foster carer needs to be at least 18 years old. So your son would not pass that criteria.

As your son is 16, he is still a child. You need to be showing that you are able to meet his needs as well as your younger children. By suggesting that he could be a carer may be interpreted as not doing this.
Instead, have a look at his care plan and see how his needs are expected to be met. Can you see how you could be working towards meeting his care plan as well?

Have you been offered a family group conference?

This is a meeting of friends and family (with your consent) to look for support for you but also to find people who could be foster carers of your children in case your parenting assessment is not successful.

Keep working as best as you can with your solicitor and continue as you are in keeping alcohol free and accepting support.

I hope the court hearing goes well.

Best wishes,

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Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:17 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Z**** » Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:39 pm

Hello all

Court granted ICO and both boys have been taken into temporary foster care. SW have not sorted out contact and the foster carers are of a different faith! My teenager comes and goes as he pleases but my poor 10 year old can't. Contact is only 3 times a week at a contact centre! what risk do I pose?! I'm speachless

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 1852
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Section 20, Mental health, housing and alcohol!

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:06 pm

Dear Z***,

I am sorry to hear that the court made interim care orders in respect of your boys.
Here is our advice sheet about care proceedings .

Everything seemed very positive in your earlier posts, so you must be surprised.
Do you know why these orders have been made? You should ask your solicitor for the reasons and what you need to do now to work towards your children being returned.

Are your boys going to be moved to a family foster care placement? You said that family members had been identified at the family group conference.
Could a family member be assessed to supervise contact or is the contact centre being used so that your contact with your boys can be assessed?


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