Truce for family at war

Daughter’s story: Living with parents isn’t
easy at the best of times. Two years ago, when I was 13, things
took a turn for the worse when it came to arguments and tantrums
with my parents. It had started well over a year earlier with my
mum having to deal with smoking, drinking and curfews already, not
to mention parties and me running away.

Three days before the new academic year at school started, my
mum threw me out and took me to my dad’s. She said I was “his
problem” now. Being an eager student, I desperately didn’t want to
miss out on the first day so I rang my friend who was in the sixth
form at the time. Her mother agreed to let me stay there for a few

But my mum wanted to teach me a lesson and she thought this
would be achieved by putting me in “care”. She contacted social
services who then referred our case to Sands, a residential project
set up by the Children’s Society to give parents a break while also
trying to work with the family to fix the problem.

On the Sunday I was driven to the house with my little suitcase
of clothes and schoolbooks and was welcomed with a huge smile and
cheery hello. Although I was there against my will, they tried to
make my stay a happy one. Even the family meetings progressed – so
quickly, in fact, that I was there all of a week! I’m still in
touch with the workers at Sands and I was sorry to hear that the
project was faced with closure. Others should have the chance to
use this service too.

Mother’s story: Have you ever been in a
position where you have had to come to terms with a situation in
your life and then forced to make a decision that you did not want
to make? I have three children, all girls, and all with different

On the whole my two older girls have accepted that I no longer
live with their fathers and acknowledge my husband as the male
parent figure in the house. Then my eldest daughter Cheryl went off
the rails in a big way. Finally, I couldn’t take her behaviour any
more and I told her to leave. She went to stay with a friend.

I fought with my conscience long and hard. I had to make a
decision. How could I keep this family together, not lose my
marriage and help my children?

I soon came to accept that social services would help only if I
hurt one of my girls. What a sad situation. But they did put us in
touch with the Sands project.

Initially I felt terrible because I felt that I had abandoned my
daughter. My daughter’s daily routine remained as normal as
possible. She went out during the week at home and also went out at
Sands. There were rules and regulations to stick to and timetables
to keep. It was not easy at first. But the project workers visited
regularly and I had 24-hour telephone support, which was

The closure of Sands will deny other families the benefits that
we enjoyed.

Sally and her daughter, Cheryl, from the West Country,
were service users during a family crisis. Their names have been


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