OU on the BBC: Protecting Our Children - 2. Expecting Trouble

Updated Monday 6th February 2012

Can Annie keep a family together through a challenging pregnancy?

Shaun, social worker Annie and Marva Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Sacha Mirzoeff Shaun, social worker Annie and Marva What happens to the most vulnerable people in society – the ones who fall through the gaps in the social care system and are not in a position to receive help for them and their children? Shaun and Marva live life right on the edge. Their story is a challenging one that will touch any heart.

They’ve already had three children removed after social workers decided they were not fit to be able to care for them appropriately. ‘Expecting Trouble’ follows them through their next pregnancy and shows the unexpected outcome for their newborn.

We discover what a complicated job Annie, the hospital social worker, has. Her role is to protect Shuan and Marva’s unborn child, as best as she is able. To do that she needs to engage with the couple. However they pose such a risk, that she’s only allowed to visit them with two security guards in tow.

Normally we only get to hear about the mistakes in social work (Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter Connolly being the obvious examples) and due to the sensitivity and confidentiality of cases we rarely get to see the complexity of the work from the inside.

After a year and a half of setting up the right access with Bristol City Council, the police and NHS trusts we are able to watch Annie working directly with one of the most defiant couples in Bristol - a couple who play by their own rules. Although they’ve had problems with violence and alcohol in the past and during this pregnancy their vulnerability is shown in a new light.

And yet Marva makes progress that no one thought possible. She stops drinking, splits up with Shaun and is housed in a woman’s safe house up until the birth. But would she be able to bring up her own baby?

Protecting Our Children is on Monday nights on BBC Two and the BBC HD Channel at 9.00pm; That's except for viewers in Scotland who can see this episode at 11.20pm.

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