Derry families strengthening relationships

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In a first for the North West, a number of local families are taking part in a unique project aimed at improving relationships between parents and children.

To date, 29 families have benefitted from the ‘Strengthening Families’ programme in the Western Trust area.

Family Strengthening first emerged as a concept in the United States in the ‘70s in response to the growing burdens placed on families.

In response to the announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron last week of his intent to progress learning supports for parents in England, local charity Derry Healthy Cities has asked that the focus in NI remain on evidence based interventions that are proven to make a difference.

Leona Scott, Strengthening Families Manager with Derry Healthy Cities said;

“There is no doubt that parenting is one of the great, untaught skills that exist in society today, and we know that early intervention, both early in childhood and early in times of crisis, are critical to ensuring family stability. However, whilst we welcome the attention the Prime Minister is bringing to the issue, we are concerned that the offer of parenting class vouchers, a website for information and e-mails on parenting skills will not impact on the hardest to reach and most in need.”

Ms. Scott added:“In these stringent times we recognise the additional pressures on parents. We also recognise the potential stigma that can be associated with seeking help. Whilst we welcome the Prime Ministers efforts to normalise the use of family support programmes but emphasise the need for programmes to be properly evaluated and tested to ensure best outcomes for parents and their children.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about Strengthening Families can contact Leona Scott at Derry Healthy Cities, 028 71611384.

The Strengthening Families Programme, a 14 week skills development programme has been endorsed by the British Home Office as a valuable support programme for families. The programme is a pilot in the Western Health & Social Care Trust area and is funded by European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme through the cross border health partnership Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) and the Public Health Agency.