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Family Support Service

Accessible Support for BCPFE Families


BCPFE’s Family Support Service offers quality support and information to all families, across our schools, who are facing complex challenges. We work with whole families to bring about positive change in a non-judgemental, respectful way. We offer an individually tailored service in a friendly and professional way.

Our Family Support Service was established in January 2014 and has grown alongside BCPFE’s membership. It aims to provide crucial support to families at the earliest opportunity and achieves this through close partnership working with member schools.

Our Family Support Workers can offer support, advice and information on any issue affecting family life. This may include:

  • Concerns about challenging behaviour at home or at school
  • Concerns about yours, or your child’s, physical or emotional health
  • Concerns about your child’s attendance
  • Improved parenting confidence and parental well-being
  • Support in dealing with significant events, such as bereavement or family separation
  • Support with communication between family and school
  • Supporting you to put in place effective and consistent routines
  • Supporting you with access to a wide range of local services

Our Family Support Service offers a varied package of support, responsive to families’ needs.

  • 1:1 tailored support to parents/carers, with a focus on the needs of the whole family, over a period of 6-8 weeks. Visits take place initially at school, then in the family home or at our offices in the centre of town.
  • Brief 1:1 tailored support to parents/carers, over a period of 1-3 weeks, focused on whole family needs or a specific issue eg. separated parenting or transition
  • One-off sessions to talk through a specific concern
  • Kinship Care programme, delivered in BCPFE schools
  • Parenting workshops and courses delivered at BCPFE schools or centrally
  • Separated parenting 1:1 support
  • Supporting transition to secondary school workshops
  • Resilience workshops for parents/carers with a focus on both you and your child
  • Summer programme of support and activities for parents/carers and your children

If you have a child in one of BCPFE’s member schools and wish to access some support for you and your family, please speak with your school SENCo or call the team on 01273 291478. Alternatively, you can email: familysupport@middlestreet.brighton-hove.sch.uk

Summer programme

Please check back soon for more information on what activities will be running over the summer holidays for parents/carers and their children. If you would like a one-off session over the holidays to talk through any concerns, there will be some sessions offered at our offices on Middle Street in the centre of town. Please contact the service to find out more.

Kinship Care programme

The Family Support Service runs a specific programme for Kinship Carers in some of our schools. Kinship Carers are those who have formal or informal arrangements for the care of a friend’s or a family member’s child. Frequently, their situations are both complex and challenging, with little access to support. The group aims to give Kinship Carers a safe place to talk, to build support networks and to feel listened too. Termly coffee mornings can be ongoing following a programme should participants wish to continue to meet.

Parenting When Separated programme

Family separation can put extra stress on both parents and children and brings new challenges. Drawing on the Parenting When Separated evidence-based programme, our 1:1 support identifies practical steps parents can take to help their children cope and thrive as well as coping successfully themselves. See our flyer for more information on this support and how to access it.

Family Store

A growing number of families are becoming aware of and accessing practical support through our family store.  The store is available for all families to access when they have the need.

We collect and receive donations of bedding, towels, winter coats and lots of children’s clothes and shoes, as well as books and games.

We’ve had a great response just before Christmas and will be replenishing the store in the New Year.

Donations gratefully received.

Please see our flyer for the Family Store Spring term opening times.

Our direct work is predominantly with parents/carers however we are developing what the service can directly offer children and young people. At present, this includes:

  • Baby-watching programme
  • Inside Out programme
  • Enrichment programme of annual events for all year groups
  • Increased access to sporting competitions
  • Summer programme of activities for families

Baby-watching

Baby-watching is a school-based programme. A parent and their baby visit a class of children, once a week, for half an hour, so the children can watch the interactions between mother and baby, and their developing relationship. Our Family Support Workers run the programme over a period of 5-6 months, during which time the children can watch the baby grow, learn new skills and interact more with its surroundings. The children are encouraged to observe the mother and baby, guided by the Group Leader. This programme aims to support children’s emotional literacy and empathy and to reduce children’s anxiety and aggression. (Babywatching article in Nursery World)

We hope to run this programme in 4 BCPFE schools in 2017-2018 and have already run it in 4 schools over the past 2 years.

Inside Out

The Inside Out programme has been developed to help children to deal with overwhelming feelings in a positive and healthy way. Its aim is to help children recognise and manage their emotions effectively thereby helping them to thrive and feel successful, both at school and in their social/home lives. The programme aims to equip children with the resources they need to foster resilience and achieve positive outcomes. It draws on evidence-based research from the Emotion-Coaching programme and from other nurture/self-esteem programmes.

The Inside Out programme was piloted at Elm Grove in the Summer term 2017 and is being rolled out in 6 member schools over the 2017-2018 academic year for both KS1 and KS2 children, funded by the Sussex Community Foundation.

A significant percentage of our Family Support Service is currently funded by Stronger Families Stronger Communities – one of Our Partners.

Testimonials for our Family Support Service

‘I just wanted to drop you a message to thank you again for the past three weeks! I was reluctant to go ahead with the sessions at first as I felt it took too long from the initial school referral! The problems were ‘old news’ and I was scared I’d be meeting with someone who would judge and not understand or even worse not have my child to be able to relate!  However, my experience was the total opposite and I cannot thank you enough for giving me the techniques and confidence I needed to make a change both at home as a mum and in myself! Last night alone I went to the gym for an hour, made dinner instead of just sticking to toast or cereal, referred myself to the wellbeing service and broke the ice with a friend I fell out with! Our meetings have made me realise it’s ok to ask for help and that nothing is impossible! Thank you.’

‘It’s a very difficult thing to admit that you are not coping and that help is required. What I liked about the service was first, it was self-referral and so easy to access, then my phone-call was returned really swiftly (and with compassion for my circumstances), meaning that I didn’t have to wait. At the book- in session the FSW was both an excellent listener but also immediately offered me some practical advice e.g. mediation services. I have described these sessions as being like supervision for parents, helping you think and parent in more positive ways. I can honestly say that our family life is calmer and happier – it has been genuine family support. What an amazing resource and how lucky we are to have access to such a quality service.’

The Family Support Service is an amazing and invaluable service. For parents who are struggling, this is a total lifesaver! This was a vital lifeline to me at a tipping point in hugely stressful circumstances as a parent and literally made the difference of being able to cope or not.’

 

BCPFE Family Support - Photo from Babywatching reunion at Hertford Infants

BCPFE Family Support includes a Babywatching Programme - This photo is from the Babywatching reunion at Hertford infants

BCPFE Kinship Group - photo from St. Bartholomew's School

BCPFE Family Support includes Kinship Support at some of our schools - this photo shows the Kinship Group at St. Bartholomew's School

 

‘It has been a very positive experience for me and my family. I can look in the mirror now and say ‘you are doing really well’ – I was not able to do this before our meeting’.

‘I would recommend it. I wish I hadn’t left it as long as I did for school to refer me. As a single parent I saw it as a failing. Actually, I think you fail if you don’t ask for help when you need it. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It was a big thing for me to ask.’

‘He is not angry. He has gone back to being my little boy. We are more loving to each other. Everything has stopped being a struggle. I feel like we have bonded and we are tighter.’

‘I’ve told all my friends. It was so not what I expected, in a good way. I didn’t expect it to be all about me. It is nice to know that there is a little safety net there. I would recommend it, if anyone is offered it, to definitely take it up.’

‘This service has kept me going over a few years. I couldn’t have done without the support, the info, the time, the knowledge. You have made a huge difference to my own mental health and mine and my children’s relationship. I couldn’t have asked for more.’

‘I would definitely recommend Family Support to anyone who is feeling even half what I was feeling. It’s the support and positive nature of it that has helped. I have already recommended it to a friend and passed on some of the information that you have given me to others. I didn’t know there was support out there.’

‘My nursery referred us to FSS because my son’s behaviour at nursery had deteriorated since contact with his Dad had re-started.  The Family Support Worker was one of the most sensitive, considered and caring professionals I’ve met. She listened genuinely and put considerable thought into her guidance. Each week we met to review my son’s achievements and challenges, picking it apart to decipher possible meaning, cause and potential solutions. I drank up her advice and followed her tips comprehensively – I figured …there’s a professional here, who really knows and understands children, and she’s giving me quality advice that might help my son feel happier and calmer … why wouldn’t I put my “all” into following her advice? And guess what ?- it worked. Week after week I saw real and positive change in my son. It took time, commitment and a lot of perseverance. Some of it was difficult (breaking old habits) and some of it was intensely enjoyable (love bombing, for example). On another level, I found that the Family Support Worker really empathised with our situation and encouraged me at every junction, really appreciated since I’m a single parent. At the end I didn’t want the consultations to finish!

My son is happier, able to manage transitions better, and gaining in confidence to venture a little further away from me. The nursery keep giving me really positive feedback about his behaviour every day. He listens better, sits more patiently, is less aggressive with other children, and can handle change without such extreme reactions. He and I are better connected, and I’m proud of him and myself for taking this step.  I see friends of mine struggling through tough parenting situations, but they won’t seek help. Perhaps it’s shame at admitting you need support. Accepting help from FSS was the best thing I did for my son and for me. Hands down. You can just call FSS and request the consultations’.