How to deliver parent/carer workshops

Delivering workshops for parents/carers:

Many parents/carers will want to talk to their children about their relationships and to keep them safe from abuse and violence. You can provide workshops and information sessions to support parents/carers in their important role.

Staff can also deliver short workshops for parents using the title ’’Am I worried about my child’s relationship?’’  Using this type of language can hook parents/carers in participating in workshops or contacting the organisation for additional information.  Offering workshops at different times of the day will encourage more parents to attend. If childcare will be an issue for your parents ask the local children centre if the workshop can be delivered there and they may let you use the crèche facilities for free or at a reduced cost.  Contact the local refuge as staff there may come and deliver the session or co deliver it with someone.  There are many local and national organisations that want to work within education and parents around the issue of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

The needs analysis in the staff training page can be adapted to be used with parents/carers.

Top Tips for delivering parent/carer’s workshops:

  1. Group agreements: Ask the parents to each give one group agreement for the workshop, this is to build a safe and supportive space for discussions. Focus on the limits of confidentiality, that if you feel that a child is at risk you are under duty to report this to the child protection lead, and building respect within the group.
  2. Support: Make clear how parents/carers can access support. It is also important to give parents a warning that some of the material could bring up personal things for them.  If they wish they can miss any activity or leave at any point.  Should they wish to speak to a facilitator at the end or in the break they can.  Facilitators should have information available that details local and national organisations that can offer support and advice about any issues that could potentially arise.
  3. Confidentiality: This should be a core component of the group agreements to ensure everyone is kept safe.  Facilitators should emphasis they have a legal duty to safeguard families.  Using a media example of when this has not happened i.e. Victoria Climbe/ Baby P can give parents more of an insight of why confidentiality is vital.
  4. Resources: Provide parents with tips and hints on how to talk to their children about Violence Against women and Girls. You could give them some of the resources for talking.
  5. Survivors: Using survivor’s stories is a great way to educate parents/carers as they can often relate more to parents than other professionals.  Just check that the parent is confident in addressing other parents and young people before they agree and has recovered from the violence they have experienced.

For more information read What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse.
For more advice on how parents can talk about Teenage Relationship Abuse read this.
For more advice on how parents/carers can talk about healthy relationships read this.
For more advice on how parents/carers can talk to their sons about sexual violence read this.

Case Study from Limes College in Sutton:

Cherelle is the mother of three children, the eldest of which attends the Limes College Pupil Referral Unit. The younger two children attend local primary schools. Mark is in Year 8 and was excluded from his mainstream school for persistent disruptive behaviour. Cherelle was a victim of domestic violence for many years with her children’s’ father.  he is no longer in the relationship but the father continues to have contact with all of his children. Due to the violence Mark saw his mother as weak. His father continually put her down and undermined her parenting at every given opportunity. Mark began to copy his father’s violence and was physically and verbally abusive to his mother on a regular basis, this led to a breakdown in the relationship between Mark and his mother and he moved in with his paternal grandmother.

Mark’s behaviour affected the younger children who started to show behavioural difficulties in home at school. Due to the previous domestic violence and her son’s behaviour, Cherelle had a mental health breakdown and she became unable to care for her family. This caused Cherelle to move in with her mother and children living in overcrowded accommodation. The family was referred to Social Services by a Limes Outreach Worker who also tried to support Mark, the children were subject to a Child Protection Plan under the category of emotional abuse, however Mark was reluctant to accept any help at the time.

The Outreach Worker met with Cherelle and her mother regularly. They listened to Cherelle’s story and validated her experiences of the violence she had experienced.  Limes worked with other agencies including health, education, voluntary and statutory services. With a lot of outreach support, Cherelle agreed to attend the Limes ‘Bridging the Gap’ parenting programme in which she engaged fully. Mark then started to engage with the outreach worker and do work around consequences, responsibility, accountability and feelings. Once this work was completed, the worker began work on the effects of domestic violence.

Cherelle’s mental health improved radically over a period of time. Cherelle was able to reflect on her past experiences and recognise and acknowledge that the abuse had caused the breakdown.  Cherelle went on to attend the ‘Gaynor Survivors Domestic Violence Project’ facilitated by Sutton Women’s Aid, referred by the outreach worker. Her relationship with her son improved over time. The family was able to move out of her mother’s house and live independently in their own accommodation. Mark returned to mainstream school where he was supported by the Limes Reintegration Worker.

Mark continues to live with his paternal grandmother and is still engaged in mainstream education.  Now Cherelle and the children are safe, services are working with the father so he is held accountable for his actions. Cherelle volunteers her time at Limes to speak to parents and young people about the effects of domestic violence when she is needed.