NCB Now: Comment -- Building resilience in vulnerable families

Friday, March 16, 2012

Most would agree, that in hard economic times, any help should be given to the most vulnerable. But any comfort that might be derived from achieving this consensus is often short-lived.

Not least because agreeing who fits into this category is far from straightforward. Discussion can rapidly become polarised and initial agreement tends to become more equivocal and conditional as notions of personal responsibility, choice, dependence, deservedness and fairness enter the fray.

These are undoubtedly very tough times for most, particularly so for those families with additional vulnerabilities such as parental mental health or substance misuse problems, or both.

In these families stress factors such as high inflation, rising unemployment, decreasing or stagnant incomes, and benefit and service changes are likely to exacerbate existing difficulties. In these challenging circumstances the consequences for children’s welfare, should families not receive the right support, are likely to be severe.

Moreover, as attitudes harden and stigma and fear of being judged as "not coping" or being "poor parents" increases, so might the tendency for vulnerable parents to withdraw, increasing the social isolation of themselves and their children.

It is precisely in times like these that caring professionals are most required to be resilient and to resist such trends when responding, non-judgmentally, to need.

It is this argument that forms the basis of a new edition of NCB’s book, Building Resilience in Families Under Stress, which helps provide professionals with practical assistance in translating the concept of building resilience into reality.

Sheryl Burton, programme director of vulnerable children at NCB

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