A Cautionary Tale to those who have to look to local authorities for help.
I write this for all of the parent of children that might need a bit of help from the social services. It is from my experience of interactions with the services in Newcastle upon Tyne. It has been a painful (and continues to be) journey. It is a cautionary tale of hopes been dashed and worse. If any of you are hoping that children’s services will be the parachute or backstop that will save you and your child then this tale is for you. It will read as a painful journey with a painful outcome. It unfortunately show you that children’s services is totally broken. I have already written a post showing that mental health services for children is broken, it is nothing short of dangerous.
Tam is nearly 16 years old and for the first 10 years of his life we had no contact or interaction with social services or the mental health services. He was diagnosed as on the autism spectrum just after his second birthday. He is a bright, mischevious boy that loved his Mammy, Granddads and Grandma. He loved going shopping and lived for hugs and tickles. Then his world was turned inside out. Granddad, Grandma, Mammy and Granddad all died over a short while. He was left with me.
He was a very sad boy. He was confused and constantly anxious. A lot more anxious than even a 10 year old boy should be. A lot more anxious than he had ever been. He changed a lot, but he still loved his hug and tickles. I tried to guide him through our loss. I tried to guide myself through my loss at the same time.
In the past few years things changed. His frustration came out as aggression rather than tears. He started trying to hurt himself and then he started attacking me.
I asked for help from CYPS and CAMHS. I was told to phone the crisis line if I needed help. Well the CYPS crisis line does nothing. They offer no help at all. They would not come out and see him. They offered no help other than an escalation to the police.
When I asked for a mental health assessment I was told that Tam would be placed in a hospital somewhere in England but not in the north east. No beds were available. Well somehow a couple of days after the initial assessment and after a period of extreme violence from Tam a bed was found at Ferndene hospital a few miles outside Newcastle. In hindsight a total waste of time and I have written about this.
The top and bottom of this period of time was that the mental health services for children and especially autistic kids that have had major trauma is none existent. In reality the fact that these services exist to provide the care but cannot is a dangerous position. It would be better to have no service rather than what is in place and what they do. Disgusting service, disgusting that the individuals that work there don’t fix it.
I wish I could go back and not have interacted with social services. I wish I took every other option than to be involved with them.
The past 9 months has been difficult. The first 4 months was me and Tam trying our hardest to find a way though the hurt. Tam was becoming more and more violent and more difficult to keep safe. In my mind I had children services to fall back on. Well that has turned out to be a horrible lie that I told myself.
Things came to a head at the end of January when Tam could not come out of a destructive few days.
After the police came out twice in a night and I was bleeding badly from a bite they had to take him away in handcuffs. The police even commented that they did not want to do it but they had to to get children’s services to wake up and do something.
Well that was the worst day of my life. That was 7 months ago.
Since then Tam has been stuck in a house that is deemed as unsuitable by CQC, Newcastle City Councils Childrens Services (NCCCS) and the company providing the staff to look after him. Unsuitable and unsafe housing. It feels like NCC are abusing Tam by not taking any action to remedy the situation.
Tam has 3 to 1 support day and night. The support he gets from the private company is great. They get him out and about everyday. He is being taught new skills and his independance is coming on. He has had a few incidents over the time.
The big problem is that NCCCS have been absolutely disgusting. They provide false promises and direct lies about when things will change. Communication has been horrible. I have had to chase at every stage to try to find out what is going on and the outcome has ultimately been that either nothing has been happening or the wrong thing. If not one of those then someone in some department is looking into something.
Some of the issues have been:
- Weeks spent looking into residential care when it was not discussed and is not appropriate for Tam. I was not aware of this and found out by accident. A total waste of time that would have led to Tam being put into a difficult position and either getting hurt or hurting someone.
- Promises of weekly communication from a head of service and then nothing.
- Excuses of people being new in post, budget cuts, short staffed. Disgusting that this is used before anything else is said.
- Use of the Data Protection Act to not tell me something about my own son (and GDPR). This has happened multiple times. Hiding behind things they don’t understand.
- Meetings with no outcome due to no progress in other areas. No meeting notes, just meetings about meetings.
- Recently a threat of using a letter from the GP that I was asked to get months ago that is no longer relevant. Disingenuous at best, disrespectful and dishonest in reality.
- Having to jump through hoops and have 5 meetings about having Tam out for a few hours
Basically, loads of things that do nothing to help Tam. He has no voice of his own and he only has me to fight his corner. I make noise, challenge the idiots and still they do nothing. Just a promise that they are doing something. Disgusting and dishonest behaviour from an organisation that is using tax payers money to provide the worst of service.
I have been made to feel like a criminal at times. The fact is that I have taken the punches, kicks, bites, dislocations all to keep Tam safe. The worst Tam has suffered is a few scratches when he has scratched himself. I have done everything to keep him safe. Why should I feel like anything but his Dad. Why should I not be able to spend some quality time with my own son. Why should it feel like I have lost my son? Well the situation and disorganisation of NCC Childrens Services is what makes me feel this way.
If you are in the situation of early contact with Children’s Services then go very very carefully. In reality I would say stop, don’t fall for the crap you will be put through. Believe nothing even if it is written down. Record all meetings and phone calls, this won’t help in getting things done but it is something to listen to when you start to question yourself. If you are hoping that Children’s Services will provide you with anything meaningful then give up hope. They will lead you a merry dance with loads of excuses and drag their feet at every stage. You will go insane during the process.
There is no rescue.