A year ago I spotted a piece in the Hertfordshire local press about a big lottery grant awarded to a new project working with families experiencing child to parent violence. Last week Hertfordshire Practical Parenting Programme celebrated a successful year, and invited me to join them for a reception.
Sandra Ashley, Director (second left), Carole Hassell (right), Geoff Ogden from the Management Team and Carol Lewis (left ), pictured above, were joined by local councilors, Chris Mitchell, Paul Seeby, John Barfoot , the Broxbourne MP Charles Walker. Dunston Patterson from the Youth Justice Board, and representatives from the local Parks Department and police were also present.
Two years work on ASB had made it clear to the Hertfordshire Practical Parenting Programme team that parent abuse often figured in the equation, and so they were keen to develop the work in this direction. Within the last year alone, they have worked extensively with families experiencing such abuse. The current funding from the Big Lottery runs till 2015, and they are already considering what happens after that – a recurring theme of course for initiatives in the voluntary sector.
Partnership working has been a strong feature of the project to date, as witnessed by the diverse group of attendees, and Sandra drew attention to this in her speech of thanks. Just as there is no simple explanation for child to parent violence, the responses needed are complex and dependent on a multi-pronged approach. Sandra’s experience and success means that she is able to call on the support of a wide range of professional colleagues. Indeed, her approach to the work shares much with the model adopted by work with “Troubled Families”: intensive, consistent work over a prolonged period with access to help outside of traditional hours.
The MP, Charles Walker, accepted that funding this sort of work was a real issue, particularly in straightened times, We discussed whether it was possible to find a way to permit it to continue and even to develop nationally, by bringing it within a wider umbrella.
A final point…
The current media interest in parent abuse is both a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness, and a potential source of further pain for families. There are many agencies currently seeking to speak to parents, some offering large sums of money. Sandra has found this to be a huge pressure as she takes on a gatekeeping role. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently published a series of guidelines for journalists reporting on poverty. They make for interesting reading and are a useful starting point for those considering how the media can be involved in our work.