Cumbria

250 children from 79 women taken into care in West Cumbria

Woman on park swing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many vulnerable women suffer from isolation in rural areas, charity workers say

Almost 250 children from just 79 mothers in west Cumbria are in care, with neglect identified as the main reason, figures reveal.

High levels of deprivation as well as cases of domestic abuse and substance misuse are being blamed for problems in the boroughs of Copeland and Allerdale.

The charity Pause, which works with women who have children removed from them, said more support was needed.

Children's services bosses said neglect was often "intergenerational".

A meeting of councillors in Copeland, which includes the towns of Whitehaven, Millom and Egremont, was told Pause was currently working with 23 women who had 71 children taken into care between them.

More cash

But Copeland Council's Children and Young Person's Service said there were another 56 women with 174 children in care that were eligible for help, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Children services boss Lesley Sanczuk said: "We know we have an issue with neglect in Copeland and that's often intergenerational.

"The families I was working with as a social worker are now parents and grandparents and their children are coming back through the system."

She said efforts were being made to secure more cash from Cumbria County Council and central government to work closer with Pause.

A total of 47% of child protection plans in place across Cumbria were attributed to "neglect", but in Copeland the figure is 71%, according to the council.

Early intervention

Jules Hillier, chief executive of Pause, said: "All the women we are working with have had more than one child taken into care and have got into a horrible cycle of repeated pregnancy and removal.

"This is incredibly traumatic and, for example, in every case we are dealing with in Cumbria the women have experienced domestic abuse."

Mike Starkie, the independent elected mayor of Copeland, said: "We've known for some time that we have areas of real deprivation in west Cumbria.

"There is a lot of good work going on on the ground, but we need to focus more on early intervention to prevent these problems from getting worse."

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