Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Developing evidence into action

Our About Families project has developed an innovative 'evidence to action' process which supports voluntary and statutory organisations to use research when they are developing services. Topics are selected with project partners, based on the challenges facing the parents they work with. We gather and present the evidence and then work with the organisations to create and implement action plans to develop services based on this evidence. The involvement of service users is a central element to this approach.

Key findings from our reports have been published in previous blogs (Is Scotland the best place to bring up children; Two-thirds of families worse off compared to last year) and are available from our website (www.aboutfamilies.org.uk), but as we progress we wanted to share some examples of what we and our partners have achieved during the 'action' phase.

The About Families evidence topics:
Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart provide confidential support to men and women who have been affected by divorce or separation. About Families worked with Heart to Heart to help them develop services which were more responsive to the needs of parents who have experienced relationship difficulties. We worked specifically on developing a toolkit which volunteers and staff at Heart to Heart will use to support parents. Together, we developed an online survey to gain more understanding about the views and experiences of parents and held a focus group with parents who had used Heart to Heart services. We took the key themes which came out of this work, issues such as anger, communication, forgiveness, anxiety and looking forward, to link them to the key findings from 'Together and Apart: Supporting families through change', within the toolkit.

Mentor provides support to kinship carers and their families in Edinburgh and the Lothians. About Families worked with Mentor UK to explore how the evidence from 'Parenting teenagers: relationships and behaviour' and from 'Together and apart: supporting families through change' related to kinship care families. We discussed the key findings with families to learn how they relate to their experiences, and to explore coping strategies. A booklet was produced - each section within the booklet is based on research findings and explores the findings in relation to kinship care, as well as giving example coping strategies for Mentor volunteers to share with the families they work with.

Scottish Book Trust
The Scottish Book Trust early years programme delivers 'Bookbug', Scotland's national book gifting programme. The Trust is currently rolling out an assertive outreach programme to reach vulnerable children and families and those living in the most deprived communities across Scotland. About Families worked with Scottish Book Trust and You First to explore how evidence from 'Parenting on a low income' could help develop training for practitioners working with vulnerable families. Young parents were asked to reflect on Bookbug, as well as to talk about some of the key findings from the report. They discussed issues such as, the lack of choice facing families living on a low income; stigmatisation; the practical difficulties in accessing services; not knowing what is available or what to ask for; being labelled as inadequate parents. As a result of considering these issues and finding out the views of young parents, the Scottish Book Trust has developed the training they give to professionals working in local communities.

For more information on the About Families project please contact Karen Mountney, k.mountney@ed.ac.uk 

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