DDN May 2022 May 2022 | Page 8



Oasis Project was established in Brighton and Hove over 24 years ago by four women who felt their needs were not being met by mainstream substance misuse services . Since then , the service has vastly grown to provide a range of gender-responsive services to women , children and families affected by substance misuse across Brighton and East Sussex . Oasis is part of the commissioned structured drug and alcohol treatment delivery partnership in Brighton and Hove .

Gender-responsive service provision is more essential than ever at this critical point in the sector ’ s development , say Francesca Carpenter and Laura Ward
Unfortunately , women ’ s needs are rarely met by generic substance misuse treatment services , which are known to be male-dominated environments accessed mainly by male opiate users . For women who have experienced trauma including domestic / sexual violence perpetrated by men , male-dominated settings can be threatening and overwhelming . Whilst it is widely recognised that experience of trauma is a contributing factor in the prevalence of substance misuse across all populations , there are specific connections between women , domestic abuse and
Alongside adult treatment , Oasis also delivers :
YOUNG OASIS THERAPEUTIC SERVICES to children / young people affected by a parent or family member ’ s substance misuse
A FREE CRÈCHE to provide childcare where families are accessing recovery support and parenting programmes including Mellow Parenting
POCAR , an intensive psychosocial intervention for parents whose children are in contact with social services due to risks around parental substance misuse substance misuse . Women who have experienced domestic abuse are eight times more likely to develop a substance misuse problem when compared to the general population and may experience specific forms of abuse in relation to their substance misuse , such as control being exerted over their access to substances and prevention of access to support services .
Oasis ’ approach includes delivery of treatment in a women-only building , providing a physically and emotionally safe place for women to access support in an environment which recognises the prevalence of
TAILORED SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 18-25 including a Young Women ’ s therapy service and dedicated support to young adults new to treatment
LOOKING FORWARD , for mothers who have experienced child separation following involvement from family courts
SWOP , a specialist sex workers ’ outreach service trauma and actively seeks to prevent re-traumatisation and promote recovery . Women report feeling more comfortable in a setting they know is women-only , sharing space with peers and drawing on shared connections , without risk of being in groups and settings with a partner , or ex-partner .
Women who misuse drugs or alcohol are often judged more harshly by wider society than their male peers , leading to greater experiences of stigma and shame which can make accessing services more difficult . These experiences are exacerbated further still in the context of parenting , with many women fearing a disclosure of substance use will lead to separation from their children .
Services often work with either adults or with children , which can lead to age-centric thinking and approaches . The context of family at Oasis Project runs through the whole organisation and bridges gaps through wraparound family support for both parents with drug and alcohol misuse needs and children affected by familial substance misuse .
Staff are well-trained and confident in exploring children ’ s needs with parents and potential risks associated with substance use , and Oasis has an organisational strength around child safeguarding through our work . Our approach is to sit alongside parents to proactively reduce shame , listen to their worries and provide targeted support to reduce risks in the family including delivery of POCAR , a programme for parents whose children are in contact with social services . The relationship established with parents continues through any involvement from children ’ s social care , and we support parents to understand local authority processes and their rights as parents .