This week, Welcare staff held the final graduation class of the most recent Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities course. Welcare reintroduced the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities in-person course this term, working with a group of 8 parents over 13 weeks in our Inner London Centre.
Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities, or SFSC, is a strengths-based parenting course, meaning Welcare facilitators aid and encourage parents to identify the strengths they already have, and use these to improve the parent-child relationship.
An SFSC course is guided heavily by the experiences participants bring to the group. Presenting issues can include, but are by no means limited to:
- Lack of communication between parents
- Lack of communication between parent and child
- Parents working differently
- Using shouting and chastisement for bad behaviour
- Not listening to children’s point of view
- Children concerned about eating problems/disorders
- Sibling rivalry
- Children threatening self-harm
- Parents/children not able to express feelings and communicate these verbally
“In this most recent group we had a range of families,” says Ayesha Alleyne, Welcare Family support worker who led the class. “There are 8 parents including one couple, and one daughter and mum pair who are currently co parenting. There are also 4 parents with English as their second language, one of whom has an interpreter.”
The SFSC programme currently being delivered is aimed at 11–16-year-olds, although one parent in attendance has a child aged 5, and in this case our facilitators adapt the content accordingly.
“Following the programme has helped this group of parents address, or at least begin to address the majority of their issues,” says Ayesha. “The building blocks for success is a go-to on a weekly basis, especially the 1st block of ethnic, cultural, family and Spiritual roots. We use this to look at the parent-child relationship, and better understand each individual’s unique characteristics, in conjunction with parent modelling.”
Within the group, Welcare facilitators place a large emphasis on parents listening and hearing each other, as well as their children, and using clear concise, easy to follow instructions.
A number of the parents in our SFSC group find it difficult to discipline and, for instance, to say no, because they don’t want to upset their children. SFSC flips this dynamic by putting the focus back on praise for doing the right thing. Parents have seen differences even over a short period of time – children responding to the praise, wanting to do things that mean praise is given back, which ensures more of the parent-child interactions are positive ones. For example one child in the group has made changes with the use of a reward chart. Where previously her bedroom was too messy to see the floor, she now keeps the floor tidy and hoovers her carpet each day.
Families facing the breakdown of a parent-child relationship have also been moving forward positively with the use of special time. All parents have seen difference in their child, however small. “For some parents it’s the ability of being able to sit with their child for 10 mins and not being told to leave the room,” says Ayesha. “Other children are now reminding their parents that special time is tomorrow at 10am.”
One mother in the group who has a daughter with special needs has found it hard to communicate with her child. Since beginning the SFSC course, this mother now routinely asks her daughter how her day has been. Where the daughter was at first reluctant to respond, she now responds daily and they have a 5-10 min chat. “This is huge progress for them,” says Ayesha. “Last week mum got held up at work and hadn’t asked her daughter. Daughter actually called her mum to ask how she was and how her day had been. Mum said she had been so touched that it brought tears to her eyes.”
As well as working personally with the group, Welcare have signposted parents to external agencies, and given them contact details and information regarding daily affirmations and wellbeing strategies, so that they can continue this work beyond the group setting.
“It’s great to see how this group can change and inspire people,” says Ayesha. “One of the parents who has completed the course wishes to complete the training become accredited so that he can deliver the programme within the Latino community – we’re helping him look for course dates already.”
If you or someone you know could benefit from one of our courses get in touch, or make a referral.