Advice & Inspiration

Published on December 8th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


DWP announces new projects to help separated couples

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced it is funding 10 new projects to assist separated parents.

The DWP says the ‘pioneering projects’ have been chosen to help couples ‘resolve long-standing grievances’, and work out their own financial and parenting arrangements in the best interests of their children.

The projects – which are worth £3.4m – will reportedly ‘test new ways for separated parents to overcome conflicts that may have become entrenched over many years’. They include court-based ‘shuttle mediation’ sessions, practical family activities including painting, gardening and homework clubs to motivate change, and access to experts for relationship support.

The scheme is part of a £10m investment through the Innovation Fund.

Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb called the projects ‘groundbreaking’ and said they provided ‘new ways’ to help separated couples put aside their differences.

“We are investing £20m to help separated parents through these innovative projects and a web app signposting relevant services,” he said. “We know it can be tough to negotiate with an ex-partner, but we want to help more parents break free of deadlock and sort out their own arrangements, rather than fall back on the state or resort to the courts.”

In the first round of bidding in April, the government awarded £6.5m Innovation Fund money to seven projects, including Relate and Resolution. The new projects announced today are:

Children 1st
A bespoke online, telephone and face-to-face family decision-making service, based on a collaboration between Children 1st, Scottish Child Law Centre and One Parent Families Scotland.

Family Lives
Working with the Barefoot Institute, an Islamic relationship support organisation, the project will provide emotional support before encouraging joint working and parenting agreements.

Family Matters Mediate Ltd
The service uses conversational analysis and response methodology and the principles of restorative justice will be used to engage and motivate parents so they address the issues identified by the children.

Headland Future
Trained therapists work with individual parents individually to identify blocks to change and triggers for conflict, and help the children express their views through art to help motivate their parents to change.

Mediation Now Ltd
Provides support in communication and conflict management skills, incorporating expertise from a programme used by over 3 million couples in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America.

National Association of Child Contact Centres
For families where the conflict between parents is so entrenched that the non-resident parent is required to see their child on neutral ground at a supported child contact centre. Help for parents in 6 regional hubs and a new online screening tool.

National Family Mediation
Parents in the court system will get help through a new programme including ‘shuttle mediation’ to change attitudes and behaviour.

Pinnacle People Limited
Practical activities for parents and their children with a dedicated family coach to encourage parents to communicate and collaborate, including through painting, pottery, horticulture and homework clubs.

Sills & Betteridge, LLP
Face-to-face or webcam and telephone support for families who struggle to get help because of low income, poor facilities and limited transport links. Assisted by Dr David Briggs, a leading psychologist who has developed programmes for behaviour change.

Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships
Free therapeutic services for parents caught up in intractable conflict and litigation, including the first UK trial of a risk assessment tool devised in Australia, working with the London Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

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About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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