St Peter’s Partnerships is a community anchor organisation in the North Neighbourhood of Tameside that improves prospects for local people through a range of services. In round 4 of Tameside 4 Good, they were awarded £3761.25 to support MAGPIES – Mothers Apart Gaining Parental Information and Emotional Support. This project was designed to educate, challenge and support women to make the changes necessary for reunification or continued care of their child.

The grant enabled the continuation of a professionally facilitated support group for 28 mums whose children are subject to care proceedings or voluntary care arrangements. The group met on a weekly basis and the project has provided access to a safe, non-judgemental environment where women can speak freely and honestly about their feelings and experiences. The support provided through the grant has helped the mums accessing the project to look at their lifestyle and identify ways to improve their parenting capacity through empowering interactive sessions.

Many of the mums accessing the project are continuing to work with Children’s Social Care as the care system is a complex and lengthy procedure. Reunification with their children will not be appropriate for some of the women accessing the group and the project seeks to support mums to accept that the safety and wellbeing of their children must always be the priority in any care proceedings.

Feedback from the project has been positive:

-       It’s good to go somewhere where you don’t get judged

-       I’ve started getting on better with my Social Worker

-       I thought she (child) was going to get adopted and I’d never see her again and that was it. I get it (care system) more now.

-       It would be great if we could get more information about how long everything takes. I didn’t know that it would be this long (at that point, children in care approx. 15 months)

A key success of the project has been the mix of peer and professional support. Women share their feelings, experiences and concerns, which is beneficial but has at times created a very negative environment. Professional facilitation has been vital in supporting the management of emotions and difficult discussions. The project has also enabled a closer working relationship with Tameside Women’s Centre and this relationship will be strengthened through further partnership projects. LEAP also delivers Daisy Chain, a targeted parenting course for mums whose children have been affected by domestic abuse. The MAGPIES project has also been able to improve the content of the Daisy Chain course, which has evolved through the information provided by the women taking part in the MAGPIE project.