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Pippa Hockton

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Pippa Hockton

Job description: Street Talk at Street Talk

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Areas of interest: Housing and homelessness – services for women with complex needs, Domestic abuse, Families and children – including relationships, Substance use, Women involved in the criminal justice system, Mental health and wellbeing, Childhood trauma – including being in care or childhood abuse, Employment and skills, Improving support for women involved in prostitution

Pippa Hockton's Recent Activity

"Street Talk provides mental health care to women who are trapped in street based sex work and women who have been the victims of trafficking. The services provided include counselling, clinical psychology, group therapy, mediation, advocacy and representation before the courts. When a person experiences repeated abuse, their confidence and self-belief are destroyed and eventually they might even believe that they deserve to be hurt. The first step in helping someone who has been repeatedly abused, is to enable them to believe that they deserve better. This is an essential first step, without which other forms of help are likely to fail. Our aim is to reach some of the most vulnerable and marginalised women on our streets to enable them to feel entitled to live safely and with dignity. For more information see: http://streettalkuk.org"
Reply To: Mental health and wellbeing

"Street Talk provides mental health care to women who are trapped in street based sex work and women who have been the victims of trafficking. The services provided include counselling, clinical psychology, group therapy, mediation, advocacy and representation before the courts. When a person experiences repeated abuse, their confidence and self-belief are destroyed and eventually they might even believe that they deserve to be hurt. The first step in helping someone who has been repeatedly abused, is to enable them to believe that they deserve better. This is an essential first step, without which other forms of help are likely to fail. Our aim is to reach some of the most vulnerable and marginalised women on our streets to enable them to feel entitled to live safely and with dignity: http://www.streettalkuk.org/ In my experience, Women’s housing situations are used against them when it comes to custody of children. Social services frequently use having no appropriate housing as a reason why children should be removed. I worked with one woman recently whose child was adopted after 4 long days in court, the main reason given that the woman had no recourse to public funds and therefore no access to housing. The court felt that she was at risk of going home with men just to get a roof over her head. She was able to be a good mother but they were separated purely because no accommodation was available. The work we do with women rough sleepers, particularly those with no recourse to public funds reminds me of the days of the film Cathy Comes Home- the children are taken away from the mother ‘automatically’ with no option of being supported and housed together. If someone was to put in the right support this could be avoided, because there are some who have the capacity to be good parents. Some women choose to give their child up for adoption, but for others who feel a bit ambivalent or worried, or do want to keep their child, they need support at that early point to know that they have a right to fight for their child. Most women in that situation do not know they are entitled to fight, they just hear from social services that their child ‘will be removed’. It takes legal support, and continuous emotional support throughout the process – with this many more mothers and children could stay together with great outcomes for both. An example of when we have helped a woman to keep her child, was a woman who had insecure immigration status, experience of domestic violence and had become involved in prostitution. She had so much love for her child and would do anything to keep them together. We arranged a lawyer who helped sort out her immigration status and the day centre [email protected] helped her to access housing. She was also accessing regular counselling through Street Talk. With these factors taken into account the lawyer was able to make social services revoke the decision and she now has custody of her child as is doing great. I do feel the courts are more risk adverse since Baby P, but when they are aware that another agency like Street Talk is involved, this seems to really help the case. They feel that another agency is keeping an eye on the woman and will report if there are concerns. Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to meet the demand in this area and each case is extremely time intensive. Courts look favourably on agencies attending with a woman and so we are frequently spending whole days in court on individual cases. There needs to be more provision in this area to prevent unnecessary family separations. Women experiencing homelessness are often afraid of social service involvement and this leads them to miss appointments and even contact meetings. This is then held against them in the case. Women leaving prison from a short sentence who have no accommodation on release are often denied the opportunity to reunite with their children. The charity Re-unite does great work on this issue. The fact that there are only two rehabs in the country that will accommodate women together with their children also stands against them in court cases. While a woman is in rehab that is another 6 months where they are not having custody and often they are somewhere far from home and not able to keep up visits. Those who stay with their child in rehab are much more likely to keep custody. We have a staff member here who has been though all of this. She was homeless, using drugs and being sexually exploited and ended up in St Mungo’s South London Women’s Project. We run a drop in one day a week there and met her at the project. She says now that everyday when she looks at her son she can’t believe they are together and knows she was very lucky compared to other women. She was supported with her drug use at the hostel and through local agencies, and we supported her with her care proceedings. She managed to get into one of the two rehabs in the UK that will take mothers with their children based in Plymouth. Following that, the agency Re-unite got her housing with her child and she is now helping other women through Street Talk. Her dream is to set up an accommodation project for homeless women at risk of losing their children, to help them stay together."
Reply To: Children and families: improving support