'Back From The Brink' came into being without really realising it in 2015 when one of our counsellors was forced into legal proceedings after fleeing, with children, from relationship. A huge amount of research followed as the parent struggled to comprehend why there was so little support for people weakened by a change in life circumstance. Reaching out to an unknown community provided the support for this parent to survive the process and on recovery, a huge moral obligation to ‘pay it forwards’ was felt. By early 2016 an active, albeit slightly clumsy, support network had been created by a small team of volunteers for the benefit of other parents facing similar challenges to educate, support and protect them.
Very quickly into setting this up it became shockingly clear that public law proceedings were having a significant detrimental effect on service users. This was not confined to the United Kingdom. There was a clear picture emerging of declining mental health of pressured parents and then the subsequent removal of their children across the world. The devastating effects of inappropriate therapeutic work, if any, following removal was leading to alarmingly fast, yet circumstantially predictable, declining mental health. Now with a strong team and a training counsellor, BFTB constantly found themselves calmly asking parents to ‘come back from the brink’.
Traumatised and isolated parents were entering a hopelessly negative cycle of repeated MHT referrals, constant rehersal of their trauma and no resolution as professionals shied away from tackling their mental health needs, mostly in disbelief, despair or through a lack of professional confidence. Everyone wanted to pass the hot potato and parents became stuck in a system that vicariously further abused them.
In early 2017 the current Crisis Support Programme within Back From The Brink was triggered by the devastating suicide of a mother in Wales who had just lost residency of her 5 children and burned herself to death. She was far from alone in wanting to embrace death rather than continue to be abused by a system which had so badly failed her. To her family and friends, and all of those who have suffered such loss, we send out deepest sympathies. By now, a number of domestic abuse and child abuse organisations and charities were using our support for clients that they were not competent to deal with.
Psychotheraputic training began in ernest to assist with the sole aim of protection of these parents against lethal self harm so that they could recover, adapt to life and in the future, be in a good place for future reunification. A highly personalised Peer Support Programme was created to follow the Crisis Support Programme, matching up parents with similar issues in a one to one mentoring programme so that all parties could support each other.
By the middle of 2017 there was already a steady stream of clients who were benefiting from Back From The Brink.
In May 2018, in response to demand, we have added a bespoke 24 hour crisis helpline for 'suicidal or on the edge of psychosis' parents and concerned parties to be used as stand alone emergency therapy following on from removal of children and the inevitable trauma felt by all parties. This can be accessed 24 hours a day.
This crisis and peer support continues today and the programme is well established and successful. In June 2018 the organisation placed an application to the charities commission and in May 2019 we achieved charity status and are registered with the ICO and Charities Commission. Now, in 2021 we have well over 300 clients that have survived child loss from a number of countries.
Full acknowledgement and thanks must go to over one hundred wonderful people who have either shaped, supported or been part of the creation of the service through its infancy or now, in its flourishing success. We remain a very discrete service but despite this, quietly, the movement has gathered pace and receives huge professional and public support from a variety of people ranging from High Court Judges to service users.
We have spaces for three clients at any one time per counsellor. As soon as these people have moved from crisis support into peer support, the space is taken by another parent. We are never under subscribed and we are always looking for more volunteer professional HG counsellors.
Our sole mission today is, and has always been, to save lives. This is not just for the clients involved but also for their families and the futures of affected children. Our counsellors, volunteers, legal professionals, other professionals and members of the community understand what you are going through. They want to help you. To believe and to protect your future. To educate and support your recovery.
We cannot carry you through this, but we can turn you away from the brink, guide you to the path and together, we can show you how to walk. If you can walk no further, we will sit with you and bind your feet and mind while you rest.
You are not alone.
Back From The Brink – Registered charity number: 1183541