Written in the first person “My fight for my family” is a detailed story starting in 1985, it chronicles a man’s struggle to keep his family together against all odds. His girlfriend Martha was pregnant with nowhere to live, she was allocated a council flat. The flat was on the ground floor and she soon discovered that the tenant above was a schizophrenic who paced the floor and had loud argument’s with himself. When she brought her baby daughter back home she became tired and run down, a relation, trying to help, suggested that she should ask social services to help her find more suitable accommodation. The intervention of Social Services resulted in the baby being taken into care and placed with a foster mother, this was the start of the family’s problems, which were to continue for many years.
Martha’s mental health grew worse. In the course of taking the child into care she was taken from her pram, when her mother tried to prevent this, she was accused of injuring her, causing her further anguish. Lengthy battles then ensued between the father of the child, who wished for custody and access for the child’s mother under supervision, and social services.
Appropriate accommodation was needed before the baby, Sally, could be returned to her father.
At a custody hearing, after reports had been read, an ex lady barrister approached the father and offered to speak on his behalf, her opinion was that social services had all but destroyed the family unit. Considering the fact that Martha was told by the foster mother that she was no good as a mother and should give her child up for adoption, the reason for her mental decline was clear.
She received care for her mental problems and in due course went home to resume family life.
Two more children were born into the family, Rachel in 1991 and John in 1992. In 1995 the children were visited by a health visitor and declared to be developmentally delayed.
A Care Order was sought by social services.
By now Dave, the children’s father, knew he had yet another battle on his hands.
He did not shirk his responsibility, driven on by the love for his family and his determination to keep them together he addressed every point with which he was attacked. When social services concerns were not divulged to him he replied that this was a violation of his human rights. He wrote letters of complaint to the local authority, and also to the local Government Ombudsman.
Conflicting opinions regarding the children’s welfare caused him to question the reports and he enlisted the help of a solicitor to obtain Legal Aid in support of his claim that the actions of social services had caused Martha’s mental illness. In the course of obtaining the information which he needed, he received correspondence about his case printed by case workers and noticed that the computer data base reference and name Mega Pig were printed at the bottom of the document.
He could draw only one conclusion from this, that it was derogatory comment.
Dave went to extraordinary lengths to challenge the unnecessary actions taken against his family even employing a Barrister, to unsuccessfully, sue social services due to a precedence that had previously been set by the House of Lords.
It is impossible to convey the power and depth of this story in a synopsis. The bravery and tenacity of the father, a fragile mother and three vulnerable children, their lives disrupted by a team of social workers who were not fit for purpose. Starting with a heart-rending scene of a mother being robbed of her child, followed by endless meetings and court appearances, sub standard housing and police involvement, the story is lifted by Martha's adventures in a mental hospital and Dave’s bravery in confronting the establishment. It has the makings of a good film.
Patricia, BA Hons