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Father Figures – Brinsford Pilot Parenting Programme

Father Figures is a unique and progressive-thinking parenting project set in Brinsford YOI, funded by NOMS.

Young fathers are encouraged by an experienced facilitator to consider their relationships with their partners, ex-partners and families. They explore ways of communicating and building on their own strengths through one to one sessions and a one off group programme.

The FIP model of intervention is used during the programme as part of the BRFC (Building Resilient Families and Communities).

The young fathers’ partners, ex-partners and families are concurrently worked with and supported out in the community, utilising outside partner agencies.

Programme:
The programme is geared to young fathers and their partners, ex-partners and families out in the community to build on their existing relationships and form strong links to enable smooth transitions back into society. The intention is to eliminate the reoccurring of offences by the young fathers by giving them purpose and a sense of belonging with their families and community. The pilot parenting programme has been designed to offer core elements which include the ‘Outcome Star’ assessment tool, yet it also has the capacity to accommodate individual needs of the fathers. The Pilot Parenting Programme is run in Brinsford YOI only.
Programme length:
The one to one sessions are on-going, The facilitator uses core elements with the young father and then ongoing sessions relate to the individual needs of the father, offering them a tailor-made programme. A group programme is held after 5-6 one to one sessions have taken place. This allows the young fathers to communicate with each other and discover the concerns and positive attributes others fathers bring. Depending on the sentence lengths and ages of the participants the programme continues outside when the young father is released.
Staff required:
Facilitators who run the programme should be experienced in working with complex and intensive families and have knowledge of the BRFC Agenda. The facilitators are often faced with fathers who for whatever reason don’t have contact with their child/ren. They therefore should have a good understanding of Child Protection thresholds and legislation and an understanding of Parental Responsibility. For the group programme two facilitators are required. The facilitators for the group are required to keep the young fathers focused and at the same time create a warm and safe environment where fathers feel accepted, valued and do not feel judged.
Materials/resources:
The programme has been designed and developed by Safe Ground in conjunction with Sallyann Ploughman (Programme Manager). Worksheets have been devised for the one to one sessions. Details regarding child development have been sourced from a selection of recognised parenting publications including ‘Future Childcare Training Limited’ and ‘Positive Parenting’ . The group programme is more art-based using role-play, tableaux and games to express feelings, enhance the bonding process of the group and enable those who struggle with literacy to be involved.
Methodology:
A mixture of worksheets, discussion, challenge, role-play and activities throughout the one to one sessions and the group programme are used. Facilitators take into consideration the literacy standards and any learning difficulties of the participants to enable the best possible learning outcome for the participant.
Delivery options:
This is a NOMS granted Pilot Parenting Programme being undertaken solely at Brinsford. However it’s anticipated that at some stage in the future the programme could readily be used in a number of areas.
Aims of the Programme:
  • To provide intensive interactive sessions within a structure framework of individually targeted support work
  • Encourage the participants to thoroughly look at their own strengths, values and beliefs
  • Support participants to reflect on the past to enable change for the future
  • Working within the BRFC strategies and meeting Local Authority Agenda’s of the ‘Trouble Families’ Government Initiative
  • Working concurrently with young offenders and their respective partners/ex-partners/families in the community
  • Provide ‘through the gate’ support for the prisoners upon release
  • Reduce re-offending by working with participants to form warm and strong relationships with their families out in the community, giving them a sense of belonging and purpose.
Early Findings:
Excerpt from transcripts (Prof. Rosie Meek). (Response by Partner in the community)
I: To start off with, can you tell me a little bit about what the Safe Ground programme was about?
S: I can’t really say from the inside because obviously I only know what I speak to my partner about, but I know he’s done work with Sally-Ann. I think it was a year he was working with her. It’s done him really well. It’s helped him keep focussed whilst he’s in there, it’s shone some light and given some perspective on what he wants to do when he’s out whereas before he’d always struggled to communicate as to what his gains are for when he is out because he was doing quite a lengthy sentence of 3 years and I’ve just recently had a baby—well, he’s 15 months now, and he’s still my baby. It was just basically– for us, I think it helped him to have a better idea of what goes on out here and also for me to know more about it in there because you have a perception of how you think it is but until you’re with somebody or you’re going through that experience with somebody, you don’t really know. It just seems like they were in prison and that’s it. You don’t think of the family or anybody that’s left on the outside unless you go through it yourself, really. I think it’s done great for [partner’s name]. It’s helped keep him focussed, we’re communicating a lot better than before he started working with Sally-Ann so I think in that sense it’s helped us a lot. It’s keeping him grounded and giving him some focus.Note written by Mother of offender states that the support has helped her and her son to focus and feel more settled, which helped her feel better in herself
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