On 25th January 2019 Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham and Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich & West Norwood co-hosted a Family Group showcase event at Richard Atkins Primary School in Streatham. The event was introduced and hosted by Nadia McIntosh, Headteacher at Richard Atkins.
The event was an opportunity for guests to hear first-hand about Family Group, our school-based multi-family therapeutic intervention, and how it supports families, schools and communities in areas of high deprivation. Many of the guests were senior leaders of independent schools in Streatham and Dulwich, interested to learn more about Family Group.
Chuka Umunna talked about the challenges faced in Lambeth, which is the eighth most deprived area in the UK. He stressed the importance of tackling these issues holistically and the key role of early intervention in schools. Chuka described Family Group as a “meaningful and successful intervention”. He said, “I hope from today we can work together to support this intervention to benefit our children and young people”.
Victoria Junior School has run Family Group for the past 8 years. David Lee, Headteacher, spoke enthusiastically about the effect Family Group has had on the school. He explained that they had lost 157 days to exclusions the year prior to having a Family Group in the school: last year they were down to just 2 days of exclusion. He discussed some of the changes Family Group has made to the school community, “the school becomes a listening school, able to support families”. He said, “We have saved lives through this intervention. It is vital more schools have it”.
Mark Turner is Head of King’s House School, an independent prep school for boys on Richmond Hill. Joined by Professor Katie Urch, Public Benefit Governor, Mark explained how King’s House are supporting SFW to provide Family Group in state schools. Katie observed that our work with families facing disadvantage, in state schools, addressing mental health needs, involving parents, children and school, was a perfect match with the priorities identified by Public Benefit Governors at King’s House.
Pam Marshall, our therapist at Richard Atkins, introduced a ‘speed-dating’ networking activity. Our guests were introduced to a number of Family Group ‘experts’ - parents and children who attend Family Group as well as our therapists and independent researchers. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and for our guests to find out first-hand about the support offered by Family Group.
To conclude the event, Mark Griffiths, our CEO, presented our ‘Theory of Change’. He explained how we adapt to our environment, so if we are used to an environment of stress and fear, we get stuck, that becomes normal for us. “So in Family Group, we provide a safe, responsive environment, rich with stimulation, with support and challenge in order to enable new positive experiences - undoing the old patterns, re-setting the pathways and practising the new learnings.”
The feedback from the event was very positive. Everyone went away, understanding how Family Group works and wanting more Family Groups set up in schools. One guest said, “The energy has been amazing!” Another attendee said, “We are all in agreement about the intervention but there is really sound evidence that it works too. On the NHS, you get 6 sessions. In Family Group, on average, 15 months of intervention”.
We hope to be hosting more showcase events like this in the future. If you are interested in finding out more about Family Group then please get in touch with us.