Baseline research conducted in the two communities (Pakistani-Mirpuri families and army service families) coupled with a review of the existing evidence base identified significant barriers 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.
The project aimed to improve targeted family support to families at risk of requiring a Child in Need intervention/ Child Protection Plan: to improve the engagement of families with early help services, to improve the acceptability and effectiveness of targeted early help, and 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. A range of professional roles across children and family services including culturally matched social workers, family support workers and community engagement workers, worked holistically with families with a range of family support needs.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 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 trust and interest in hearing about or receiving help with family support issues. This evaluation suggests that cultural competence (defined as an ability to engage and work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds irrespective of your own) is generally more important than a shared, lived experience or an exact cultural match, although there were times when such a match worked very well.