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'Scum mum' turns life around thanks to council's family intervention scheme

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'Scum mum' turns life around thanks to council's family intervention scheme

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Housing

A Leeds mother who was branded “scum mum” by the national press for her failure to control her children is to reveal how a council scheme has turned their lives around.

Lisa Walker is to talk about how letting workers with Leeds City Council’s ‘family intervention’ Signpost scheme help them changed her and her family’s anti-social and criminal behaviour.

Already having a long history of drug addiction along with fraud and shoplifting convictions, Lisa had lost control of her children and had served two separate custodial sentences for failing to get them to attend school, despite living almost opposite the school gates.

Vilified in the national press, Lisa’s anti-social behaviour and her inability to provide for or control her daughters raised concerns from Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.

Her 12-year-old daughter, Danielle, had been cautioned for shop lifting and was the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Lisa had a secret drug addiction, would be aggressive and intimidating to people who tried to help her and the family home was undecorated, bare and smelly.

Further punitive legal action to tackle the family’s problems was being considered, but in a final bid to get them to change their ways they were referred to the Signpost project.

The Family Intervention Project sees the council, family support agencies and enforcement agencies work intensively with families, children and young people to reduce anti-social behaviour.

This more creative approach attempts to break the spiral of bad behaviour and broken relationships, helping families take responsibility for their actions and easing problems experienced by their neighbours and surrounding community.

Since then, there has been a dramatic and profound change in the family’s behaviour. There have been no reports of anti-social or criminal behaviour from either Lisa or Danielle, Danielle’s Child Protection Plan has been lifted, she is no longer involved with social care services, and is attending school with support.

Lisa is no longer using amphetamines and is actively looking for work, while 18-year-old daughter Jade has recently found her first job.

The relationship Lisa now has with her mum and sister is positive – they in turn have commented how they now have their “daughter” and “sister” back.

The programme worked with re-establishing trust both between them and with agencies like the council, dealing with debt management, supporting Danielle to attend school, encouraging Lisa to meet the health needs of herself and Danielle, practical and financial support to decorate the house, helping Lisa reach out to extended family members who had lost contact with her because of her lifestyle, anger management and amphetamine misuse sessions, help with coping with anxiety.

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