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Tell us about your good practice

Hampshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (HSCP) is always keen to receive professional feedback on the Strengthening Parental Relationships Toolkit.

If you have any comments or would like to contribute any ideas and/or links to other published material, please email clearly stating which toolkit you are referring to.  We will then review your contribution.

Andrew is a 34 year old dad with young children, who fled a situation where he was the target of domestic abuse and was living in accommodation for abuse survivors, and did not feel supported. He eventually found a route to support through a trusted peer group of other fathers.

Andrew’s social worker introduced him to Getting it right for children, an evidence-based intervention from OnePlusOne. This resource uses videos to help separated parents learn communication skills which can protect their children from harmful conflict. Andrew was so encouraged by it that he shared his learning with other dads in the group, helping to overcome his fear of uncertainty. Sharing his learning in the dad’s group and knowing that they have been through it alleviated the fear of the unknown and encouraged him to keep going, supported by social work.

When Andrew used Getting it right for children, he was introduced to relatable video scenarios with families that reminded him of his own. Despite not agreeing with having to engage with social work and why he was put on the course, he really liked it. In particular Tom’s family, which he saw as a dynamic that “really nailed it”.

By engaging with these clips and the lessons around them, he learned valuable skills for regulating his own emotions or, in his words, “playing it cool”. He is now able to step back and consider how he might be coming across, and he thinks carefully about how to word his messages to his ex-partner.

As well as communicating with his ex-partner and her family, Andrew has found the skills he developed using Getting it right for children useful in his interactions with professional services and has realised how he may have ‘come across angry’ in the past.

Andrew was able to get a new perspective on his children’s experience of his conflict with his ex-partner: “The decisions you make, and the consequences of those actions, last a lifetime for your children.” He also learned healthier ways to communicate: “It’s given me the tools – that moment where you stop and take a breather.” Andrew is now in a new relationship and he and his ex-partner share care of their children.

**It is important to note that Andrew and his ex-partner have no contact and the social worker referred him to GIRFC to support him in developing his communication skills and focussing on the impact of conflict on his children. Our interventions are not suitable for families where there is active domestic abuse, whether intact or separated**

With thanks to OnePlusOne for allowing us to share this case study.

Jess and her partner had been together for fifteen years, with two children. They had been arguing to the point where they were both on the defensive, awaiting the next eruption. They had tried traditional counselling but found that the costs added pressure to their situation. Neither Jess nor her partner have a support network, someone to talk things over with to get a different perspective. Going through lockdown only made things worse.

When Jess found Arguing better – available through OnePlusOne’s package of digital interventions and free on point of service – it provided an opportunity to learn new skills independently. Jess recognised the links between stress and conflict, with thought-provoking content that allowed her to reflect on her own behaviour and how this might be influencing her interactions with her partner. Jess described the resource as more approachable, relevant, and easy to follow than others she had come across.

Jess found the resource very useful, finding that it normalised conflict and reflected how they behaved in their relationship/ how families behave.  She thought that the way it pitched the relationship between partners worked well.

Jess picked up new skills to use when communicating with her partner, including offering emotional support before trying to solve problems. Jess described an interaction in which her husband came home from work and wanted to talk about a bad day, and her reaction was to try and fix it. Later that night she reflected on the fact that maybe he just wanted to talk, and she should have listened “I said to him the next day… which is probably the first time I’ve ever said it and not just thought it… I probably should have just let you talk to me about that thing instead of trying to solve it for you… so that did work quite well.”

Jess practised using ‘I’ statements, expressing how she feels in a disagreement rather than apportioning blame. This allowed her to further reflect on her own emotions, taking time out from a heated discussion to calm herself down, slow her thoughts, and prevent an argument from escalating.

When Jess found support, she felt less isolated. “You watch the videos,” she said, “I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t found the videos and the programmes… it [can] make you feel very trapped and isolated… but you watch the videos and you think ‘everybody’s going through the same thing and I’m not terrible’ and it’s a confidence boost because you’ve found something that can help you.”

Since using Arguing better, Jess has felt more able to share responsibility for her relationship with her partner, rather than shouldering the burden alone. There have been challenges, but their dynamic is slowly adjusting. Jess benefitted from having access to an online resource where she could learn independently without having to attend a face-to-face session.

With thanks to OnePlusOne for allowing us to share this case study.