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Set up to fail:” how advocacy supported Lea to maintain a relationship with her baby

5 April 2023

Lea visits her baby at a contact centre, but when the times of her visits changed, Lea felt this was unfair.

Lea* and her baby daughter Tia lived in a mother and baby unit for three months. Since then Tia has been cared for by a foster carer while Lea focuses on changing the aspects of her life that Social Services have concerns about. Tia is now 7 months old, and Lea visits every weekday morning to dress her daughter and have valuable bonding time at a contact centre.

Then the timings of these visits changed to the middle of the day, which was Tia’s nap time. Lea was told she wasn’t interacting enough with her baby - because Tia was asleep.

A Looked After Child Review was coming up, and Lea wanted some support. She feels she shuts down’ in meetings and that everyone there is working against her. 

She just wanted someone to be on her side. 

Building confidence to speak up

Lea’s advocate Charlotte met her in a café a week before the review meeting. Lea explained that she was doing to change in light of the concerns raised by Social Services, and how the change in times was impacting her relationship with Tia. 

Lea also felt she had been set up to fail at the meeting, as it had been arranged at a time when they knew she would be on a train travelling to the contact centre to see Tia. 

Lea hadn’t felt confident enough to say this, and it was too short notice to change the time.

Charlotte attended the virtual meeting. Initially Lea asked her to do all the talking, but Charlotte encouraged her to speak first, and said she would be there to step in if she needed any support.

During the meeting, Lea needed almost no support from her advocate - she was brimming with confidence to say what she needed to say. Charlotte only had to step in when Lea’s train went under a tunnel and she lost connection.

Time together

As a result of the meeting, the visits at the contact centre changed back to the original time. It was agreed with the foster carer that she would take Tia in her babygrow, and Lea would bring clothes to dress Tia in to reinstate that bonding activity they had been sharing at the beginning. 

As the time was changing, this also meant that Tia wouldn’t be asleep. It gave Lea much more opportunity to do things like read to her, sing to her and feed her as she was being weaned off formula.

Lea thanked her advocate for supporting her at the review meeting. 

* To protect people’s privacy we don’t use their real names, but their stories are genuine.