Southwark: Strengthening families, strengthening communities

SFSC is led by the Race Equality Foundation, and had an excellent reputation locally. In Southwark, the SFSC programme had been adapted during Covid-19 lockdown to offer online sessions which parents found very useful.


The challenge

To provide parenting support where children are at risk of becoming involved in offending or antisocial behaviour, school exclusion and/or going missing from home, or where there are difficulties in the relationship between parents and their children. Between 300-450 referrals, including self-referrals, are received by the Family Early Help team each year.

The approach

Previously situated within the YOS, the parenting team now sits within Family Early Help and receives referrals from schools, health visitors, children’s services and self-referrals, for children from birth to 18.  A wide range of different targeted programmes and interventions are offered, on a termly basis, depending on the needs of the child and family, and their ability to attend sessions (either online or in person). Of particular relevance to the parents of 8-13 year olds, the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) programme is an inclusive evidence-based parenting programme, designed to promote protective factors that are associated with good parenting and better outcomes for children.  The programme focuses on the ‘Building Blocks’ of healthy, violence-free lifestyles; childhood characteristics and lifestyles; parent modelling; family and community; parent teaching and relationships; parent-child relationships; and ethnic and cultural roots.

Local implementation

 

SFSC is led by the Race Equality Foundation, and had an excellent reputation locally. In Southwark, the SFSC programme had been adapted during Covid-19 lockdown to offer online sessions which parents found very useful. With the end of national lockdown, they are now able to offer the usual thirteen-week programme, with 3-hour face-to-face sessions each week, alongside the online programmes. Participants who complete at least 70% of the course, and who the facilitators judge to have engaged fully, are awarded a framed certificate that is presented in a graduation event, recognising that many of those involved may not have received certificates before. 

The team are also providing a Spanish SFSC programme to meet the needs of the community within the Borough. 

Both face to face and on-line programmes are run by two facilitators.  Refreshments, childcare (where necessary), interpreters and transport costs are provided when needed. A manual is also given to participants for future reference.  Good liaison between services is seen as essential, alongside having a range of programmes to suit different needs and circumstances. 

Evidence of impact

A national evaluation of SFSC is ongoing. There has been no formal evaluation of SFSC in Southwark, although anecdotal evidence suggests it has helped parents in multiple ways. Many of the participants have referred friends to the service and/or been trained as SFSC facilitators, indicating that they found the course beneficial. SFSC has an excellent reputation and is in the process of becoming an approved intervention. 

I had problems with my son’s behaviour at school a lot from primary school to secondary school and early this year it came to a head and it really got too much … I used to feel alone, its only me, it’s only happening to me and coming here I know that I am not the only person who has been doing things wrong and wants to change. …There have been many positive changes. My son was in trouble at school daily, calls, emails, meetings and had a managed move. He started his new school in September. He has not been in the same trouble and I receive cards and messages about how well he is doing at school"

- Parent