We work as part of four major partnerships in Hartlepool.
We joined two of these in 2019. We host the Healthy Relationships Partnership. We set this up in 2015.
Five top tips for changing how organisations work are:
- Design change in partnership with the people who work in organisations. We worked with Health Visitors to develop and to test out resources. Health Visitors and practitioners used these to help strengthen relationships between new parents.
- Work with people rather than ‘do to’ or ‘do for’. We gave consultancy to help workers help parents to strengthen the couple relationship and reduce conflict. We learned how:
- there is more to workforce development than training
- organisations need to give workers permission, support and encouragement to do things differently
- Collect and use real people’s stories. We used social media to shine a light on success stories from the workforce and from parents’ perspectives.
- Collect, analyse and manage data well. We used data to tailor our messages to better influence how organisations work.
- Communities have strengths and are a real resource. We worked with parents who have trained to deliver Empowering Parents Empowering Communities (EPEC). They now also focus on reducing parental conflict. They can reach people practitioners often can’t.
Some people who live in violent relationships want the relationship to continue but want the violence to stop.
A new couple’s therapy for couples in conflict, and sometimes living with violence, was delivered in London. It was delivered by Harrow Council and the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships.
We offered this in Hartlepool. We found:
- The therapy can make the most vulnerable people in the family, usually women and children, safer; it can help reduce violence and improve how couples manage conflict
- It works best where it’s well understood and supported by other agencies working with the family
- It can engage couples who will not engage with domestic violence services, or haven’t found the help they’ve had before to be helpful enough
A carefully risk assessed and risk managed couples’ therapy can help and should sometimes be considered.
We suggest that anyone delivering this work should be very experienced. They should work with their local domestic violence agency and local council or health authority to make sure it is as safe as it can be. They should work with them to screen out people who might be put at more risk by couples’ therapy.
Organisations thinking and working together and sharing learning make a bigger difference than acting alone. We share our learning widely:
Case studies or discussion about our work has been published in ‘From Tiny Acorns: Communities shaping the future of children’s services’ by the New Local Government Association in 2019.
In the last few years, we have shared our learning with:
- Barnsley Early Help service
- Leeds Reducing Parental Conflict programme
- Northumberland Reducing Parental Conflict contract area
- The National Early Intervention Foundation Reducing Parental Conflict Conference
- Agencies involved in Hartlepool’s Healthy Relationships Network, Healthy Relationships reference group, Children’s Strategic Partnership
- Hartlepool’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy Group
- The New Local Government Association
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Strengthening Couple Relationships