Mothers' voices: hearing and assessing the contributions of 'birth mothers' to the development of social work interventions and family support

Bell, Linda, Lewis-Brooke, Sarah, Herring, Rachel ORCID logoORCID:, Lehane, Lynne and O'Farrell-Pearce, Sioban (2021) Mothers' voices: hearing and assessing the contributions of 'birth mothers' to the development of social work interventions and family support. The British Journal of Social Work, 51 (6) . pp. 2019-2037. ISSN 0045-3102 [Article] (doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcaa138)

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This paper focuses on interviews with ‘birth mothers’ who experienced successive losses of their children to public care in one local area of London, England. Interviews were conducted during a project partnership between a London borough and university staff, aiming to provide a localised, pilot support initiative which responded to mothers’ viewpoints. To ‘hear’ mothers’ own voices more clearly, we analysed interview transcripts using a methodology which separates out elements of how the interviewee tells her story, how she speaks about herself and about her relationships, taking into account surrounding social complexities and researchers’ reactions to the story. To explain how professionals could subsequently draw upon these ‘mothers’ voices’ for a pilot support initiative, we identify some key messages for professionals from these interviews, including: women wanting clear and honest communication between themselves and workers, and between staff; women often feeling ‘let down’ by professional procedures and court processes that were moving too fast for them to keep up; women wanting to be treated with more respect. Women respected some professionals but not others and this seemed to relate partly to personalities. Some mothers experienced being ‘left alone’ or ‘abandoned’ to deal with the aftermath of children’s removal and/or adoption.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning
Item ID: 30850
Notes on copyright: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Linda Bell, Sarah Lewis-Brooke, Rachel Herring, Lynne Lehane, Sioban O'Farrell-Pearce, Mothers’ Voices: Hearing and Assessing the Contributions of ‘Birth Mothers’ to the Development of Social Work Interventions and Family Support, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 51, Issue 6, September 2021, Pages 2019–2037, is available online at:
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Depositing User: Linda Bell
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2020 14:53
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:43

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