A Case for Advocacy!
Don't Take My Baby, the first of BBC 3’s Defying the Label series is very powerful TV which showed the struggles that a disabled couple went through to keep their baby. The BBC website said:
“This emotional tale will call viewers’ prejudices and beliefs about the disabled community and society as a whole into question, as we learn about a situation many disabled couples find themselves in as new parents.”
I watched this couple, especially Tom, the father, trying to prove that they loved and could look after their baby under intense scrutiny. Although the social worker wanted to help, Tom was so angry with everyone and the way they were being treated that he refused any help even though it was becoming impossible for him to care for Anna and the baby without help.
As an advocacy organisation, the screaming need for an advocate was so clear. If the couple had an independent advocate who could help him get his voice heard and to be an equal partner in the care of himself and his family, their journey would have been less painful for him and the services. Tom and Anna were fortunate to have a social worker who tried her best to enable them to keep their baby. Unfortunately this is not the case for all disabled parents—many parents with a physical or learning disability lose their children because the right kind of support is not available or because they crumble under the scrutiny. Of course the needs of the child should be paramount but most children thrive best with their parents especially if those parents love and want to care for them.
seAp has developed a project to support parents with a learning disability to access the services they need through all stages of their children’s lives starting with the ante-natal stage and we are currently trying to access funding to launch the service. For more information on Advocacy, see www.seap.org.uk