All families living in the rural area face deprivation of access to services. On top of this many also experience poverty.
Prior to 2011 there had been a successful Surestart Service operating in Rural Conwy but when the grant funding ceased, this was closed. There was strong feeling from the community, who campaigned for the continuation of this support service, led by young mothers in Llanrwst.
A successful bid to Families First funding created the opportunity to design a bespoke service with a multi-agency holistic family based approach.
The service hub operates from The Llanrwst Family Centre, and provides one to one, group and community support to families in a setting they feel comfortable with.
The Rural families First model co-ordinates, facilitates and provides direct intervention for families, with an emphasis on joint working. The focus is on supporting parents of under 12’s in the rural area, with a variety of support that is able to adapt to changing and emerging needs and is therefore family focused, bespoke, integrated, pro-active, intensive and local. Particular attention is paid to enhancing parenting skills through a variety of methods to suit all families.
Crucial to the success of this project is the multi-agency joint working partnership model. Support services have an opportunity to be seen in different settings/situations, making them more appealing and accessible to the community.
The wide knowledge and experience of the staff help families to engage with and form trusting relationships.
- Increased the age range to under 12s and their families, whatever their makeup.
- A part time Family Support Worker for families with a child with additional needs. Also, established satellite groups in more remote rural areas.
- Produced an annual parenting plan showing parents/carers and professionals a menu of parenting group interventions available.
- Trained staff in ante-natal group work delivered jointly with midwife and Health Visitors, thus enabling a more preventative approach to working with parents.
- Initial focus on staff forming a ‘professional relationship’ with families and becoming their ‘professional friend’, building confidence and raising aspirations.
- Developed social media options to widen the methods parents can use to be in contact.
What difference has it made?
Increased number of partners and therefore accessible services in the rural area eg. Health Visitors, School Nurses, GP’s, Community Dental health, Social Services, Education, Women’s Aid, Revenue and Benefits, Leisure Services, TWF, New Work Connections, Mentre Iaith, Golygfa Gwydir(Job Club), Libraries, Gingerbread, Domestic Abuse Service, Mydiad Ysgolion Meithrin, Relate, Fire Service, Revenue and Benefits, Ty Gobaith, Afasic etc.
Compared to 2013/14 there has been a 35% increase in the number of parents and children accessing the service. This includes focused support for 57 parents/carers and their children, who have additional needs. 100% of feedback received from parents/carers was positive. Parents/carers are more confident and comfortable to attend a range of support, shown by the 27% multiple attendance increase. The number of parents completing closed/structured groups remains consistently high, as is the number of multi-agency staff working through the family centre. All staff are now trained in recognised, evidenced based parenting programmes and have achieved QCF Level 3 National Occupational Standards for work with Parents. Multi agency staff have attended accredited training to further develop a well trained workforce who work with parents and families in Conwy.
As well as the group to support parents who have a child with Additional Needs in Llanrwst, a further 2 satellite groups have been developed as the need has arisen. We have organised training in Recognising signs and symbols and Makaton for parents/carers and local multi-agency staff.
Case study 1 A parent with serious health issues, with 2 teenage daughters and a 3 year old girl, had only attended baby club very occasionally and seemed very reserved and withdrawn. With gentle encouragement she started to attend other groups and sessions. This gave members of staff the opportunity to lay foundations for a meaningful relationship. This in turn enabled the parent to confide the difficulties she was experiencing within her marriage.
Emotional support was offered as well as parenting advice during this difficult period. As her trust in us grew, she divulged further issues such as financial problems, which had not been addressed. These issues are slowly being resolved.
She is now attending 4 sessions per week, including the Nurturing Parenting Programme, as well as feeling confident and comfortable enough to come in when she needs to talk about her problems. She is also thinking of attending other community groups and projects which she would not have previously considered due to her lack of confidence and self-belief.
Case Study 2 A lone parent with 3 children aged 7, 4 and 1. History of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse within immediate and extended family circle. This parent has been known for 4 years and a good relationship had developed with all staff.
Issues that have arisen with this parent and supported by the Family Centre include:
- Domestic Violence and emotional abuse: liaised with Aberconwy Domestic Abuse Service and encouraged her to go to a refuge for a short period of time.
- Emotional support given to help her through numerous relationship difficulties eg break up from partner, volatile relationship with own mother and siblings.
- Financial and housing advice given due to debts she incurred with an illegal money lender. Helped her to clarify her position within the benefits system.
- Education and parenting: liaised with local primary school regarding behaviour difficulties with middle child. Incredible Years parenting course attended.
- Health: Parent’s emotional health has been supported by staff and we continue to stress upon her the importance of nurturing herself as well as the children. We have liaised with the local Health Visitor and arranged appointments with the community paediatric doctor on her behalf.
- Practical support: provided transport to and from appointments.
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