How Re-Unite Birmingham supported ‘Madeleine’ and her two children
Madeleine was first referred to Anawim Women’s Centre by Drake Hall Offender Management Unit in the autumn of 2011. She was serving a five year sentence for importation of illegal drugs.
Madeleine was pregnant when she went into custody and her baby girl – Ellie – was born in prison. Ellie stayed with Madeleine on the mother and baby unit until she was eighteen months old and then went into the care of her father, Madeleine’s ex-partner.
Madeleine also has a nine year old son called Denver who lived with his Grandmother while his mother was in custody. Both children were subject to Interim Care Orders to ensure they were being cared for by their respective relatives.
Madeleine used her time in prison to the full and attended as many courses as she could. She explained that she wanted to leave her old life behind and start a new life with her children when released but she was always very aware that she needed help to achieve this. She was particularly concerned that she would be unable to integrate back into the community, to find suitable accommodation or to rebuild a relationship with Ellie and Denver.
Madeleine was accepted onto Anawim’s Re-Unite project and the staff immediately set to work establishing whether Madeline, Ellie and Denver had a realistic chance of being reunited again. Madeleine’s social worker and probation officer made it clear that care and custody of Ellie and Denver would only be entrusted to Madeleine if she was able provide a stable home for them. They also wished to observe Madeleine’s behaviour in the first few months of release to ensure that she would be able to take on the responsibility of her children.
Step by step
Madeleine was released early in 2012 and was met at the gate of the prison by her Re-Unite worker. A place had been reserved for her in supported accommodation in Birmingham close to where her mother and her son were living, which provided Madeleine with the extra support she needed to integrate gradually into the community. Madeleine’s confidence grew gradually and there was a clear turning point when Denver’s grandmother finally entrusted Madeleine to start taking Denver to school and back.
Madeleine also started to have regular contact with her daughter (now aged 3) and, after several months, Social Services agreed that Madeleine would be the main carer while Ellie’s father would be able to take care of her at weekends. Re-Unite Birmingham continued to support Madeleine – ensuring that she attended all courses deemed necessary by her Probation Officer and starting to make enquiries about local housing that would be appropriate for the family.
A new home
An application was made to Midland Heart – a Housing Association that recognises the Re-Unite programme – and in the summer of 2012, Madeleine was offered a 3-bed home in the same road as her mother. Madeleine was thrilled and moved in with the children three months later. The family settled in well and Re-Unite Birmingham continues to monitor their progress for the time being. Madeleine has been supported in acquiring a Community Care Grant for essential items and settling into a positive daily routine.
In November 2012, Madeleine’s life changed when she was offered a four week work placement in a Solicitors office doing administration and reception work. She loved the work and was interviewed and selected for a full-time roll.
The Re-Unite worker explains, “…she couldn’t believe that she had got it and rang me up very excited. I reminded her how far she had come and how well she had done and she said “I couldn’t have done it without the support of Anawim and the Reunite Program”.
Madeleine recently told us:
“I have gained so much confidence and have gone from feeling a failure in society to being a fully paid up member of society”