Families in Bucks getting the right help to turn their lives around

Families across Bucks are getting better, more coordinated, help earlier and only have to tell their story once, as the Council puts Families First.

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Families First project has been praised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for the ‘high quality work that Buckinghamshire is carrying out with families.’

The project works with the whole family, across all the issues they face, ignoring service and organisation boundaries, to make a difference and build their resilience so that they can cope when problems occur in the future.

Amanda, mum of three in the Aylesbury Vale area has found the support invaluable in helping her to make long term positive changes for her family.

“I came to the team for help when my son was becoming difficult to handle. He has ADHD and Asperger’s and I’d always made excuses for his behaviour when he was little. But as he got older he started to use this to manipulate me and then started to become physical too. It all became too much when I was pregnant with my youngest boy and he became even worse towards me.

I was at such a low point. I needed to take control of my life back.

I’d always been dubious of social services so I’d never asked for help before. I had no idea what to expect apart from the bad stuff you might hear.

I’m so glad I changed my view. My support worker helped me to build a relationship with my son. She gave me such good advice I would never thought of as I’d become so self-destructive. We built up such a good rapport and she put things in such a way to help me think for myself and not tell me I’m a bad parent.

I want to let mums and dads know that they’re not on their own. Don’t let pride get in the way of asking for help. I know what it’s like to not want to let your guard down and admit defeat. You feel like you’ve failed as a mum. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but it’s better to ask for help earlier than when there’s no other option. I wish I’d done it earlier. I’m not a bad parent, I know that now, I just needed some guidance and ideas. Having someone to talk to outside of my friends and family has made a huge difference to our family life now.”

Since 2012 Families First has supported over 3000 families across Buckinghamshire, helping them access the right services at the right time. The end goal is always to build resilience within the families so that they can deal with their own problems when they arise or at least know where to go to get that early help.

The project supports families through all sorts of challenges they are facing including parenting advice to tackle behavioural issues and improve school attendance, and support for mental health, substance misuse and domestic violence.

Lin Hazell Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:

“Everyone wants the best for their children and to be good parents. Our aim is to ensure we can keep families that are struggling together and get them the help they need at the right time to get back on track.

We know from our own lives that often one problem in a family impacts on the whole family dynamic. And people only want to tell their story once. This approach allows us to listen and respond in a way that is best for the family, whilst helping to improve things like school attendance and behaviour, and support families to get the right support for mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse.”