A mum who was reunited with her children after working through her drug and alcohol problem says she is a "totally different person".

Mum of five Deanna had substance abuse problems and was stuck in an abusive relationship when her four youngest children, all under 10, were taken away.

The 38-year-old from Croydon said she had become “isolated in a toxic relationship” when she lost her children.

But she says her life was transformed after her case was dealt with in a groundbreaking new way.

The Family Drugs and Alcohol Court (FDAC) was pioneered by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which works with partners including Camden Council to support vulnerable people like Deanna during proceedings.

Instead of simply punishing her, she was given access to psychologists and people who could support her.

She said: “FDAC sent me on courses, and taught me all about boundaries, how things should be and how to manage my emotions in a healthy way.

“All of it helped, how it was put together, they went into my whole childhood.

“They were there with me holding my hand throughout the whole process. They don’t make you feel like you’re in an intimidating court.”

In standard court proceedings, a local authority typically orders an assessment, and their parent meets a social worker, who submits a report and recommendations to a judge. 

The FDAC is designed to deal with complex problems such as drug or alcohol abuse and mental health struggles. It provides a case worker and offers therapeutic support to get to the root of the problem.

In Deanna’s case, she met the same judge every two weeks over several months, and was given the chance to work with a range of specialists including a psychologist.

According to the Tavistock and Portman, the FDAC’s approach is far more effective, with 52% of parents reunited with their children afterwards, compared to 12.5% elsewhere.

Deanna was one of these, having been reunited with her children in April last year.

Deanna said: “I’ll never get into a drugs and alcohol problem again… I’m a totally different person.”

She added: “I’m so much happier now, my children are happy and I owe it all to social workers, the judge, and FDAC.

“I never thought I could have a happy, good life and now I think everything is possible.”

There are now 15 FDACs serving 36 local authorities across the UK, but proponents of the court, such as FDAC Judge Kenneth Grant, say it should be rolled out across the country.