A 220-mile trip to see ill daughter

Tara Palin, of Duke Street in Chorley, faces huge expense and a long journey every time she wants to see her daughter Rachael, who is being treated in a Middlesborough hospital for mental health problems.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-10-2015
Tara Palin, of Duke Street in Chorley, faces huge expense and a long journey every time she wants to see her daughter Rachael, who is being treated in a Middlesborough hospital for mental health problems. PIC BY ROB LOCK'2-10-2015

A mother has to make a 220-mile round trip on public transport – at a cost of £100 a time – to see her mentally ill teenage daughter.

Now Tara Palin is calling for better mental health services in Lancashire for young people.

Mrs Palin, 38, of Duke Street, Chorley, visits the 15-year-old, who is in a specialist unit in Middlesborough, usually once a fortnight for a maximum of two hours.

The teenager, a former pupil of Southlands High School, Chorley, has severe depression and has been sectioned.

Mrs Palin said the unit is just one of two in the country - the other is in Northamptonshire - suitable for caring for her daughter.

Mrs Palin, a teaching assistant at Duke Street Nursery, Chorley: “It was last July when school noticed it first. She was down and self-harming.”

That is when the girl’s treatment journey began.

“We took her to the doctor hospital after ringing social care,” said Mrs Palin. “She tried to kill herself and went to A and E.

“She was in a normal children’s ward and had cuts all over her arms. She ended up staying in there, I think, for a month.

“When a bed became available they moved her to Fairhaven in Warrington.

“She was doing horrible things to herself, ripping her clothes off and trying to hang herself with her clothes.”

“They couldn’t control her and she became violent.”

She added: “Her relationship broke down with me.

“They sent her to the Hartley Unit at Huntercombe in Staffordshire.

“She just became zombie-like.

“They said she needed to move to a low secure unit and she moved to Middlesborough.”

Mrs Palin continued: “We get no help, no financial help, no emotional support.

“Leyland CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) are the only people that have helped.

“It’s been a year now.

“It does take a while for you to come round and get your head together.

“I don’t have a car, I have to use public transport.

“On one journey I had to get a taxi from Middlesborough which cost £25 and than a train which cost £60.

“Sometimes she doesn’t want to see me.

“It’s just horrendous and my other children (two sisters and three brothers) don’t get to see her unless I take them.

“It’s just a ridiculous journey to have to make

Mrs Palin and her husband Stephen, 37, an IT worker, have been put under a huge strain.

“It’s been hard. I took six months out of work which I couldn’t get paid for.

“I had to travel to see her, there was always something happening.

“One of my other children dropped out of college. I thought everything was falling apart. It’s been really hard.

“You just don’t know what’s going on. You just want your little girl home and family back to normal.”

The mum does not know for sure whenher daughter will return home.

“They don’t know. By law, they have to give a discharge date, They’ve given Spring 2016, but it doesn’t really mean she’ll come out.

“I want to see more of these units built.”

Mrs Palin has organised an online petition to Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, calling for more localised mental health services.

Mr Hoyle said: “I have not been directly contacted about this petition.

“However I have deep concerns about the provision of all mental health services in the local area.

“I was opposed to the closing of the beds at the Oakfield Unit in Chorley Hospital and have taken up individual cases.

“I have and will continue to take up the issue of the reopening of the local mental health unit.

“I look forward to meeting with Ms Palin in order to discuss this matter further.”