Our experience, along with the evidence provided by our clients, indicates that most families feel the current system for treating addiction and domestic abuse is failing them and their children, for the following reasons:
The demands on our service grow year on year, which not only suggests there is a clear need for such a service, but also that current provision is failing the most troubled families. Significantly, only six of the 188 families attending Iceni in 2016 had previously attended a family or Sure Start centre. This alone suggests that although services and resources may be available to families, many times they are unaware of these services, don‘t know how to access them or are afraid to access them for fear of their children being taken into care.
Deprivation and inequality in Suffolk goes beyond poverty and is compounded by geographic and social barriers. Suffolk is often viewed as a wealthy and affluent county and popular notions of poverty and deprivation normally focus on large inner cities. However, Ipswich is a town of major contrasts with pockets of significant deprivation and inequality within wards that are obscured when data is analysed in the traditional way.
The overall Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) states that Ipswich has major problems with crime and disorder, drugs, prostitution, poor health, sub-standard housing, transport, income & employment deprivation, and concludes that two neighbourhoods in Ipswich are amongst the 20% worst off in England.
Further evidence of the “hidden” story of poverty and inequalities in Suffolk that clearly supports our belief that current approaches are failing our children include:
The following research papers confirm our belief in our chosen approach:
We need to reduce the number of children being removed from their families and prevent children from becoming tomorrow’s problems by breaking the generational cycle of addiction and poverty. Affected children often go on to lead deeply troubled lives themselves. Research shows that they are at higher risk of addiction, poverty, offending, homelessness, worklessness, suicide and early death (DoE: Turning around the lives of families with multiple problems, September 2012). Reducing the number of children being taken into care is our ultimate ambition.
Of particular concern Iceni is the increasing numbers of children being driven into care where addiction is a prime causal factor. With 700 children in care at the moment in Suffolk – and the cost of care averaging out at £78,000 per child – the economic arguments are inescapably supportive of our charity’s logic.