Child in Mind, BBC 4, 10pm, directed by Sam Benstead

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097bkcy/child-in-mind?suggid=b097bkcy

I watched Men Who Sleep in Cars a drama, in verse, linking the lives of three men who, you’ve guessed it, sleep in cars, but one of them cheats, because he has the luxury of a Ford Transit van. It was OKish.

I didn’t really intend to watch Child in Mind, with poetry by Simon Armitrage, I’ve got stacks of things to do, and by that I mean, read. I write too and sometimes there’s a kind of synchronicity between what you read and what you write, or in this case see. Earlier I’d quickly sketched out Karen’s background in Grimms a novel I’m working on (https://www.abctales.com/story/celticman/grimms-95). Some of the other writers on the site had said she was the least developed character, and knowing the ending, as they did, and I do, it would be worthwhile giving her a bit more detail. And here it was, here she was in composite form onscreen, less than two hours after I’d posted online.

Every year a system of triage takes place and an estimated three-thousand children are taken from mothers by social workers. The authorities’ client is the child, often a new-born, and some of these women go on to have other children taken away from them. The mothers suffer from an extended kind of shock, in modern jargon, post-traumatic-stress disorder. Here three women are given voice to tell their story. There are commonalities that begin with poverty, a controlling partner, drug or alcohol addiction, self-harming, mental illness, a toxic blend that often leads to suicide attempts.

The charity Pause, co-founded by Sophie Humphreys, in Hull, who witnessed first-hand the trauma and loss caused by repeat removal of their children gives these women space and time, an eighteen-month programme to heal. With government funding being repeatedly cut for successful programmes such as Sure Start, Pause seems something of a miracle and good news amid welfare cuts.

 

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