Transforming West Cumbria, mid-term report 2023

PAGE 26 | TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA TRANSFORMING WEST CUMBRIA | PAGE 27 in Barrow as the most deprived in the whole county.” CADAS has used Family Wellbeing funding to expand its services into family support and has employed a specialist worker to help the families of existing clients. Willie says: “This is an important expansion. If there is instability at home, children go into school with problems and impediments to their ability to concentrate and learn. If you can support the child, you will help the whole family.” Howgill Family Centre is using the funding to work holistically with parents and carers to build supportive and compatible services around early communication development, a vital component of early learning. Targeted interventions e.g. Babbling Babies, Toddler Talk, group sessions and one-toone support have resulted in measured improvements in speech and language development, attachment, and bonding. Providing parents with the necessary skills, competencies, and confidence to support their children's education reinforces and embeds learning, ensuring the best possible foundation. "The provision of learning resources to all parents of children in our Early Years settings, and those who attend group sessions, further emphasises the value of home learning," said Willie. Willie is confident the Family Wellbeing projects are making a vital difference. “Over the years we have seen so many good projects dying because of interim funding. Transforming West Cumbria is trying to tackle the short-termism,” he says. “Through the life of this project these children and families will continue to benefit. But it is unbelievably difficult to sustain these kinds of interventions: we need them to be mainstreamed into public services, with the funding and clout of the statutory sector instead of being dumped on the voluntary sector.” “The Family Wellbeing partnership comprises of organisations that deliver creative, innovative and complementary approaches to supporting children and families” Thriving families: Howgill Family Centre used funding to help families overcome the effects of the pandemic Elaine Bidmead Thanks to the funding, Together We CIC has extended its mental health services to children aged five to 11. “It’s a link in the spectrum of support that has been missing and is greatly needed,” says Sam Joughin, Co-Managing Director. “We see a number of people struggling with mental health but generally services are only open to those aged 11 and above – often the whole family including the younger children need support,” she says. Together We, a Community Interest Company, was co-founded in 2017 by Sam and her sister Janine Ward, to provide mental health services across West Cumbria. Its staff includes 15 practitioners, and 20 volunteers, and works both in the community and out of hubs in Workington, Egremont and Mirehouse. Together We sees about 2,000 people per year providing services ranging from talking therapies to exercise for mental health, post-natal support and mental health recovery skills. It has received £105,000 funding over three years from Family Wellbeing and is targeting mental health in young children in two ways; through one-to-one talking therapies, and through workshops in schools. The children Together We helps do not meet the criteria for statutory Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). “It is not always recognised that family members can need support if an adult has a mental health condition,” Sam says. One father was suffering mental health problems including suicidal thoughts. He lost his driving licence and job as a lorry driver, which impacted his wife and 10-year-old daughter. CASE STUDY: Together We The Family Wellbeing programme is being evaluated by Dr Elaine Bidmead, Senior Research Fellow for the National Institute for Health and Care Research, Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria based at the University of Cumbria. Elaine has worked with each partner to develop a Theory of Change and evaluation framework. The mid-term evaluation report (2022) said partners were delivering innovative approaches to address entrenched problems and providing intensive support to children and families. Elaine is now working with each organisation to ensure outcomes and impact are measured in a consistent way across the programme and that they are capturing stories of ‘Most Significant Change’. Elaine says: “The Family Wellbeing partnership comprises of organisations that deliver creative, innovative and complementary approaches to supporting children and families. All recognise that the health and wellbeing of children is inter-related with that of their families. “In collaboration, we have focused on evidencing the impact of their work and we can show many children and families have benefitted. The stories of Most Significant Change demonstrate the difference the partnership is making to families across West Cumbria, and how the projects are helping to give children the best start in life.” See our video online