Our work with families is a key part of our agenda, as family breakdown or relationship breakdown is the most common reason for homelessness. Whilst there will be a number of other contributing factors to result in homelessness, we firmly believe in the need to support families to keep the family unit together and ensure that people are supported within their family environment.
In the first instance, we would provide this support through a floating support programme, such as Crichton House in Cardiff, which works directly with the family unit to support any individual within that home with their support needs. This can often be extremely complex and will mean addressing multiple needs within the home. However, with the ultimate goal of avoiding homelessness, this work is vital and engagement with the whole family is key.
Our residential family services involve supporting the whole family towards issues identified at the point of referral and any other needs that may be discussed and assessed throughout their stay. While the primary need may be homelessness, there will often be a number of additional needs that may need support. One key area of work for our service at Catherine Booth House in Portsmouth is parenting skills. While working alongside the family to address additional needs, the staff help parents understand behavioural issues and how to discipline or praise children. This can often be a sensitive subject and requires a fully trained and engaged staff team.
Our services in Thorndale, Belfast are particularly unique in that part of the support offered within the service us funded by the legal and/or state social care system and involves the assessment of families within its care. Thorndale provides holistic, evidenced-based parenting assessments that can prevent the need for further costly interventions and delays in the process of permanency planning for children. Thorndale ensures the best interests of children are paramount in all they do. The emphasis is on identifying difficulties and seeking solutions through skilled intervention.
This monitoring and assessment is compiled and used as part of the courts' decision-making process in the future care of the child and can result in the removal of the child from the family in extreme circumstances. The role of the support and social work staff in Thorndale is imperative in supporting people to improve their parenting skills with the ultimate aim of every family resettling together as a unit and keeping the family together. We work with families to help them set and achieve their goals by assigning them a key worker and putting together a support plan that is reviewed regularly with the family. We will look at areas they may find challenging with the aim that they will move on from the centre and be able to live in independent accommodation in the community.