Amira - a story of isolation  

Amira came to England from Bangladesh, three years ago, unable to speak English and with little support from other people.

With two children under three years and pregnant with a third, she had little idea of services in her area and how to get around. A court order was also in place to prevent her husband from entering the family home, so she relied on his family to help her. 
 
Isolated in her new family, she found it difficult to bring up the issue of her husband’s drinking with her in-laws because of the cultural and social taboo. It was only after she ended up in hospital with a fractured jaw from her husband while he was under the influence of alcohol, that she was referred to Breaking the Cycle (BtC) from Children’s Social Care. 
 
Amira’s Tower Hamlets BtC practitioner said: “It was quite clear that she was isolated and had never previously encountered anyone with alcohol problems in Bangladesh.”
 

Recovery 

BtC focused on getting Amira support by increasing her knowledge and understanding around alcohol use and the impact it has on people.
 
Her BtC practitioner said, “We had extensive discussions about the behaviour associated with drinking excessively such as the aggression, unpredictability, loss of control and slurred speech. Amira was shocked to learn about the health risks with excessive drinking. She had no prior knowledge that alcohol could damage the body and seriously affect health. 
 
We also discussed safety issues and how Amira could keep herself and her children safe. With little understanding of the child protection plan in place, she would have been given a well-informed account of what the plan includes. We also gave her step by step instructions on how to call the police, what that would entail and what information she had to communicate to them in any emergency. These sessions gave Amira the confidence to keep her family safe, when her husband returned home.  
 
She was also taught to discuss her husband’s drinking openly within her family, to protect her children from being left with him, if he drank. This was a vital step in ensuring that she did not burden herself with the problem alone and isolate herself again.
 
We also told Amira about other services whenever she needed extra support and I often helped her take her two small children to the children’s centre as she could not cope. I also signposted a grant she could apply for, to get a much needed washing machine.
 
BTC also tried to get help for her husband to deal with his drinking.

Case Closed

The case has now closed but Amira still phones BtC to ask for advice. Recently, she called about an incident that occurred over a weekend. She said she felt comfortable talking with us because she could explain everything in her own language and would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by social services. 
 
Amira reported that her husband had turned up and she could tell he had been drinking as she knew what signs to look for in his movement, speech and aggression, so she called the police. Amira said she reflected back on the BtC discussions on how to call the police. She said knowing the steps helped her confidence to cope with things. 
 
Key to providing a thorough service was for BtC to liaise closely with Social Workers, children centre support workers, health visitors and the key worker at the local Alcohol Team (THCAT) on this case. 
 
Today, Amira says she wants to learn English in ESOL classes.