Parental conflict reduction projects to get £2m in DWP funding

By Joe Lepper

| 16 April 2019

Ten projects are to share more than £2m in Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) funding to help tackle parental conflict among disadvantaged families.

DWP minister Will Quince: “Children exposed to harmful levels of parental conflict often have poorer social and emotional development.” Picture: UK Parliament

Among those to successfully bid for funding through the DWP's £2.2m Reducing Parental Conflict Challenge Fund, is a Relate scheme to support families when prisoners are released.

The charity has been handed just under £200,000 to help integrate ex-offenders across East Sussex and Kent back into their family home. This will involve providing parent counselling and measuring the impact of couple counselling on children's behaviour.

A similar scheme has already been used by the relationships charity with inmates at Ford open prison in West Sussex.

"Good quality relationships are vital for our physical health, wellbeing and children's chances in life whereas frequent and unresolved conflict between parents can have devastating consequences for everyone involved," said Relate chief executive Aidan Jones.

"Evidence shows relationship support can make the world of difference, which is why we're excited to begin working with ex-offenders to help them resettle back into family life and develop healthy relationships as parents."

Another to benefit from the funding is digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, which has received the largest grant, of £650,000, to improve access to digital and online support aimed at low-income families.

The foundation will work with One Plus One Marriage and Partnership Research to develop online content on solving parental conflict. The project includes working with families to establish the content that would appeal to them and find out more about the social media they use.

Exploring which technology engages parents in conflict will be explored through Action for Children's £156,000 grant, with the aim of creating support that can be offered through social media.

Separately, One Plus One Marriage and Partnership Research has also received £250,000 for a separate project to train health visitors to use digital tools to identify couples at risk of conflict and help parents with issues around communication and developing coping skills.

Others to receive funding are South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, to develop and test parenting courses as well as peer-led support. Its £221,000 grant will be used to trial courses in Nottingham, Sheffield, Stockport and Southwark.

Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology's £213,000 funding will help develop therapy for parents in conflict who have learning difficulties or poor mental health in Harrow.

Anna Freud Centre has been handed £110,000 to use multi-family group support to help parents understand the impact of conflict on their children. Mediation Now's £127,000 funding will also be used to help parents better understand how conflict affects children.

Family mediation and counselling to prevent family conflict escalating into court proceedings is the focus of a £153,000 grant to Crewe and Nantwich-based solicitors Hall Smith Whittingham.

Meanwhile, supporting families, in particular fathers, who have drug or alcohol problems is being looked at by Brighton Oasis Project, which will use its £127,000 funding to test its Parents as Partners intervention.

The projects will run until March 2020 and will be evaluated to establish how successful they are at reducing family conflict and supporting children.

The funding is part of the government's wider £39m Reducing Parental Conflict programme, which is being trialled in 30 council areas to find ways to improve support for families in conflict.

The DWP said children most at risk of harm are those in low-income families or where there are physical or mental health problems.

"We know children exposed to harmful levels of parental conflict often have poorer social and emotional development, impacting their performance in school and in later life," said family support, housing and child maintenance minister Will Quince.

"We're committed to changing this, and ensuring that parents can access support to resolve conflict.

"It's encouraging that so many organisations have come forward to help us collect evidence and test different, innovative approaches to support affected families.

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