Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent

This is an update post on the story of Glory Anawa and her 12 week old daughter Tracy.

As I said at the end of the last blog, when I published Glory's request for lactation support for her daughter, we needed to give the authorities time to respond.

Some responses were excellent, and very encouraging. Brian Pollett, Head of Detention Services, personally responded to me within moments of the cc going out to him. The office of Al Aynsley-Green, The Children's Commissioner was just as quick to email the next morning. Both are actively looking into the case. The Children's Commission does not work on individual cases, so their involvement is in terms of the overall practises in Yarl's Wood.

Eric, Lord Avebury, who works on Borders and Immigration Authority practises, has been highly active is seeking out the facts of the multi-agency involvement in the removal and separation. There appears to have been a breakdown in BIA paperwork over the removal of a breastfeeding baby. Updated regulations on the processing of a separated dyad, which Lord Avebury helped instigate as part of the issues that arose with the Janipher Maseko case, may not have been followed fully. Investigation on this is still being pursued. It has only been 3 working days since we became aware of the situation.

Also, it's probably the first time these precise requirements will have been applied - Government are fond of claiming all separations of breastfeeding babies are 'isolated incidents' even when it's obvious that's not so - therefore it's vital that it's clear what should have happened, and when, and if there are gaps, that they are plugged. So that process may take quite a lot of time. I will blog about this fully after the short break I'm about to take: Watch This Space.

Patti Rundall at Baby Milk Action, also responded quickly, and has had direct discussions with Yarl's Wood Health Care.

The Black Women's Rape Action Project have continued to support Glory, and are trying to collect all the data needed to present clear cases for all the lawyers concerned.

Bedfordshire Social Services, in the form of the Child Protection Team, who had been called in on the accusation of harm, were extremely helpful and supportive of my attempts to sort out what had happened. They revealed that Tracy's status as a breastfeeding baby had been considered in foster arrangements, and they had attempted to get Tracy back to Glory for more than one long visit a day, but it hadn't been feasible.

They also stated that Yarl's Wood Health Care had suggested expressing milk to Glory, and Glory had responded negatively. I was incredibly happy to hear about this offer, as it does show that there has been progress in many ways. The fact that Yarl's Wood and Beds Social Services sat down and talked about specific breastfeeding support is just wonderful, and I have already congratulated both services.

However, the fact that Glory Anawa does not remember these discussion at all, is less good. How does a traumatised mother, who's just had her baby removed, and who is in a detention centre awaiting deportation, hear things? It's an interesting question, and one I think that is going to take a long time to unpick. I have tried to visit Glory again to discuss it, but processes inside Yarl's Wood appear to have gotten a bit mixed up, and although I sat in the Visitor's Hall for 40 long minutes, Yarl's Wood didn't manage to get the message through to Glory that I was there, even 'tho she knew I was coming. I'm seeing her again tomorrow. I'm sure Yarl's Wood will manage to make sure she makes it to the Visitor's Hall this time...

What definitely hasn't happened yet, however, is any lactation support for Tracy. I've written to Yarl's Wood Health Care, as chair of Nursing Matters, and requested such immediately, as well as asked for detailed information on what did happen, and what support was offered Glory when Tracy was taken, how they presented the offer to express, and what management plan they had for Tracy's return to her mother, and her breast.

Unfortunately, Yarl's Wood Health Care have been the most difficult to get a response from, and I suspect it may be some time before all the points are addressed. In terms of the overall issues, and improving things further, there is time.

In terms of Tracy's continued need to supplement with formula whilst she still is not back to exclusively breastfeeding ... there is less time. And so far, on that crucial point... nothing has happened.

Medical Justice attempted to arrange an independent health practitioner to go in and visit them both today, but the paperwork couldn't be processed as... Glory was in the same knot of being sent from one office to the other in order to receive the paperwork to request the visit... that prevented Yarl's Wood staff from telling her I was in the Visitor's Hall.

So they will now be going in some time next week, to review the paperwork and meet with Glory and Tracy.

So we wait... and hope... that the authorities are not just responding... but doing something... I'll keep you posted. Given the responses, I do feel we need to give them all a just a bit more time.

Here's hoping Brian Pollett and Detention Services don't let Tracy down....

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