Baseline research conducted in the two communities coupled with a review of the existing evidence base identified significant barriers for service and Pakistani Muslim families in accessing targeted family support, including: language and communication, concerns about the stigma of accepting support, or a sense of shame associated with seeking help. We aimed to improve targeted family support to families at risk of requiring a Child in Need intervention/ Child Protection Plan. Our two main outcomes were to improve the engagement of these communities with early help services and to improve the acceptability and effectiveness of targeted early help, thereby safely reducing the need for a statutory intervention.
This project was delivered and developed in partnership with the Local Authority and an established local charity, Family Friends. Between September 2015 and June 2016, the partnership offered targeted 1:1 family support via community based ‘hubs’, to approximately 90 service and Pakistani families that were showing signs of struggling, sometimes involving the provision of early help. We brought together a range of professional roles across children and family services including culturally matched social workers, family support workers and community engagement workers, to work holistically with families with a range of family support needs.
In regards to our outcomes, we found that culturally-attuned community development activities and significant key worker presence on the ground appeared initially to significantly raise the profile of the new ‘offer’ and build community interest in hearing about or receiving help with family support issues. However, we acknowledge that we did later lose momentum which affected some local stakeholders’ enthusiasm. Culturally-attuned 1:1 family support appeared to have benefitted families because it supported joint family and worker understanding of the issues and an ability to build trust in our work through having a common language shared by the worker and the family and broader, culturally sensitive and empathetic communication, including assessment of needs. Our biggest challenge regarded some of our social workers, who after 6 months, left to gain employment elsewhere.
We discovered that cultural competence is perhaps more important than a shared, lived experience or an exact cultural match.
Click here to read the literature and evidence review undertaken at the start of the evaluation.
Please contact the local authority for further detail
Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University