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'I'll never see my grandchildren again'
A GRANDMOTHER at the heart of a legal tug-of-war over the future of two young children claims she may never see them again – due to social services.
As reported by the Daily Echo, the two children will be separated and placed into adoptive homes after their grandmother lost a lastditch appeal to look after them.
London’s Civil Court of Appeal heard how the youngsters, aged three and five, had grown up in a volatile home with a history of domestic abuse and neglect, and have complex problems that need extra care.
But the case led one of the top judges in the country to deliver a scathing verbal attack on Southampton City Council after the children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were left without a permanent home for more than two years. Now their grandmother has expressed her disappointment at losing the appeal and says she would “give her life” for her grandchildren.
She said: “I haven’t been treated fairly from the beginning.
“Social services are saying I saw the children three times a week and I must have known what was going on in their house.
“My answer to that was I have never been to their house, they were visiting me at my house.
“I have spent the last two years trying to prove the truth and I have done everything I have been told to do.”
She told the Daily Echo she quit her job and moved 150 miles away to distance herself from the children’s parents to prove she had no contact with them.
She added she also met with social workers once a month to discuss the case.
She said: “They have disregarded me from day one.
They are not giving families a chance and you cannot get the advice you need.
“I am debating whether I can take it to the Supreme Court but I cannot get legal aid because of the new legal aid system.
“I would give my life for my kids and my grandchildren and I have proved there’s nothing I would not do for them.
“I fear I may never see them again, unless they come looking for me or after they turn 18.”
As previously reported, the grandmother applied to look after the children but was told that, despite being able to offer a good standard of care, it would not be enough to deal with the problems they face.
The court also heard the youngsters had not had a permanent, settled home since the council took them into care in 2011, after one of them was admitted to hospital with symptoms of developmental delay due to neglect.
Lord Justice Ryder and Lord Justice Tomlinson dismissed her case at the appeal hearing in London, despite saying they “well understood” why she felt she had not been treated well by the council.
Lord Justice Ryder said the youngsters had waited “long enough” for stable homes and that no further delay in deciding their future could be tolerated.
Expressing sympathy with the grandmother, L o r d Justice Tomlinson said: “I know this will be of no consolation to the grandmother, but I would stress that our decision reflects no adverse assessment of her parenting skills – quite the reverse.”
Referring to the council’s handling of the children’s case, he said: “However, one may characterise the performance of this local authority as one of drift, delay and a failure to get a grip – there is no evidence of either bad faith or unfair process. “I regret, with a great deal of sympathy for the grandmother’s position, there is no real prospect of success in this appeal.
“These children have waited for long enough for decisions and a placement to be made.”
Southampton City Council said it would not be commenting further on the case, but reiterated a statement issued by Councillor Sarah Bogle, the council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, which said: “The council takes all matters relating to children’s welfare very seriously, and we are working extremely hard to improve the outcomes for all children in the city.”