The NSPCC has 38 parenting and family support projects spread across England, Wales and Northern Ireland that help parents cope with the pressures of bringing up children. The NSPCC’s parenting and family support projects focus on early intervention with families and can help parents avoid losing it by giving them someone to turn to in times of difficulty and by offering alternative ways to manage their child’s behaviour. Services available to families include positive parenting sessions, behaviour management programmes, drop in support, and one to one advice clinics for parents who need extra support.
Some projects also offer support and services in response to domestic violence and substance misuse. Many services operate in partnership with other key agencies, such as health, social services, education, Sure Start and Children’s Fund. Several projects run innovative volunteer programmes where local volunteers are trained and supported to go out into their communities and give struggling families that extra helping hand. Parents who have benefited from help often go on to become helpers for other parents.
The work undertaken by volunteers is varied and ranges from providing practical support through to adult company and listening. The aim is to reduce stress and isolation, help build self-confidence and keep depression at bay. There are over 100 volunteers providing this support. Many parenting and family support projects are located in disadvantaged areas where there is very little other support available. Others are tightly focused on the needs of the neighbourhoods and communities in which they are based.
Examples of these targeted services include the Family Alcohol project in London which supports youngsters in Camden and Islington who are affected by a parent’s alcohol misuse and also the Catterick and Ashdown family centres which work specifically with military communities. Parenting and family support services are one of the most popular services with people asking the NSPCC for help. There was an increase of just over 40 per cent in the number of families these projects worked with in 2003/2004 (source: SCYP Annual Statistics 2003/2004). Parenting and family support projects help thousands of families every year.
The majority of these families access parenting and family support projects directly, with most of them making their first contact by dropping into a service. Mothers are most likely to seek help, followed by children and then professionals. Social workers and health visitors are the professionals most likely to access NSPCC parenting and family support projects. Parenting resources: The NSPCC has produced a new guide to help parents to cope calmly with the stresses of family life. ‘Keeping your cool’ is designed to help parents recognise and handle difficult situations that trigger stress and anger.
‘Keeping your cool’ outlines typical scenarios which can be anger flashpoints. The booklet offers advice on how to deal with these situations or, if possible, avoid them altogether. For a free sample copy telephone 0800 801 837 or visit the ‘Keeping your cool pages. The Grimsby team carries out family support work in partnership with the local Sure Start and Children’s Fund initiatives. They offer an innovative Video Interaction Guidance service in the local Sure Start area. This involves filming parents interacting with their children and building confidence in their parenting skills by feeding back what they do well.
Weekly drop-in sessions for parents who need advice and a parenting group run alongside this. Their Children’s Fund work involves supporting children whose parents misuse drugs. Youngsters attend a group called ‘FEDUP’. Scarborough and Selby Family Support projects These projects provide a number of support services to families. These include drop in sessions, parenting groups and working with children who have experienced domestic abuse or substance misuse in their families. They aim to provide these services in a non stigmatising and supportive environment. Ashdown Family Centre, Wiltshire
Provides family support services to young children and their families in Tidworth, an army garrison town with a population that is largely made up of young soldiers with young families. Tidworth has been strongly affected by the war in Iraq and by deployment of troops there. Almond Tree Project, Catterick, North Yorkshire Provides support to families at the Catterick garrison who are isolated from extended family and can also be separated for long spells through partners being posted abroad. A range of services are offered including drop-in sessions, play sessions, a crihe facility and school holiday and after school activities.
Hayle Family Support Service, Cornwall Offers a wide range of services to families aimed at encouraging positive parenting. Work includes drop-in advice sessions for parents, positive parenting groups, play groups and home visiting. The project also has a domestic violence programme, working with children who have witnessed or suffered violence in the home. Surukhia/ New Links Family Support Team, Coventry Volunteers are central to the work carried out by this project. They provide an outreach befriending service to parents of children under 12 years old. North Swindon Family Centre
A community family support service that provides a range of services to local families, with a particular emphasis on involving fathers in their children’s lives. There is a weekly drop-in group for dads, a father’s fun day and individual support for fathers. Play and Learn Scheme (PALS) PALS is a home based play service for families with babies and toddlers. Play workers visit with carefully selected toys and together with parents create fun play opportunities that promote interaction, boost the parents? confidence and support the child’s development. This project reaches many children and parents in the remote areas of East Kent.