News & Events

Childhood Adversity - Let’s take action

Jane
06.03.2019 - 15:50

Conference March 2019

 “Childhood Adversity - Let’s take action”

Home Link Family Support would like to invite you to ½ day conference,

7 March 2019

Please come and join us to hear about and develop a city-wide approach to trauma informed practice in Edinburgh.

We welcome a keynote address from Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People.

Guest speakers include: 

  • Cheryl Brown, CEO of Midlothian Sure Start, presenting her research finding on Early Years Trauma Informed practice from Australia and US.
  • We shall hear from a service user of Home Link Family Support, about her experience of trying to overcome generational adversity.
  • We shall also have speakers from City of Edinburgh Council, sharing their vision about addressing adversity.

After the presentations we will invite you to participate in round table discussions for each locality lead by key panel members.

On the 7th of March 2019, 08.45-12.30, at the Faith Mission, Gilmerton, Edinburgh.

 Open to the public.  Tickets £15

Registration via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/childhood-adversity-lets-take-action-tickets-53722452301

Systemic work

A week in the life of a systemic practitioner for Home Link Family Support

Jane
21.02.2019 - 14:50

Home Link’s Systemic Practitioners visit families at home, to provide a form of therapy for them all together. It helps relationships and makes sure everyone’s voice is heard.

The work of a Systemic Practitioner is full of variety.  I might be out and about in the community, in family homes or doing  1:1 sessions with children in schools.  One of the things I like best about Systemic Practice is that you take time to get to know the families, and for them to get to know you, before you start to work together.  Creating a shared understanding of their past, present and hopes for the future.   Helping them to make sense of their family’s story, to see patterns that occur across generations and think about how this might be affecting them and their children now. 

We think about roles that we play and who defines these roles, for example, what does it mean to be a mother, how should mothers act and according to whom.  We also think about scripts (story lines) that we might consciously or unconsciously act out, for example, we might find ourselves saying things or behaving in a way that is like someone close to us -  that moment when you realise you sound just like your mother!  By thinking about these things people become more aware of their role and their scripts, which ones are useful and which ones they might want to change.

I might find myself in a house on the floor with the family drawing out their family tree or working on a timeline from when they were born, listing all of the significant events in their lives and helping them to think about how this impacts on their current situation.  Then we think about what they might like their timeline to look like in the future.  Sometimes I do this with adults and children separately and sometimes all together. 

One of the things I like most about holding a systemic perspective is that the problem never resides in one person, it is always considered within the context of the system and therefore we don’t just focus on the problem.  Being able to draw out and to focus on strengths rather than ‘the problem’ can help to motivate people to identify and to make the changes they would like.  It can also help to put problems in perspective and stop people feeling so overwhelmed. Playing games with families and engaging in activities that they enjoy, helps us all to learn more about the family dynamics and relationships and at the same time improve them. 

It’s not all fun and games though, and sometimes I find myself having very difficult conversations with families.  Practising and engaging in systemic work is an emotional journey for the family and me so as part of the work I do, I have regular supervision with my peers, my manager and a systemic therapist.  This makes sure that I pay attention to the feelings I am left with as part of the process and reminds me that we’re all part of the wider system.

It is a privilege to be able to offer therapy in the heart of the community, by doing so we are reducing  the barriers to access support,  and ensuring that families in need get the opportunities at a time that is right for them, in surroundings that are most comfortable and convenient for them, which promotes  equality  and sustainable change.

How a co-ordinator worked to help a mother with a disabled child

Jane
25.01.2019 - 16:42

We were referred a family whose son was disabled.  The mother acted as sole carer and felt she was the only one responsible for his care.  His needs were complex and she cared for him 24/7, which was exhausting for her. But she regarded it as  her duty and didn’t want to burden anyone else, even her family, with the task of looking after her son.

As the Midlothian Family Support Co-ordinator I contacted mum and arranged the first Initial Visit to discuss what a volunteer could offer and how this could help mum.  Mum was initially hesitant about accepting support, she was very anxious at the thought of allowing a “stranger” into her home to spend time with her son, as she felt this was her own duty and responsibility. Mum said her own needs were not important and that she felt very guilty if she spent time doing things for herself, such as arts and crafts, dishes, cooking, relaxation sessions etc. I explained that she was important to the family and that taking care of her health and well being was vital so that she could care for the others.  Although she was reluctant, she said she would try it, but didn’t feel this would make a difference to her.

After some consideration I introduced a volunteer who I thought would be a good match for the family.  I took the volunteer to meet them and we all discussed the support mum would like from our service. Mum said that she was happy to try weekly visits, but that she was still a little unsure.

After a month of visits, I saw the family for a usual first month review to see if the support from their Volunteer was helpful and if the family felt it was working for them. And this is what she said:

When my health visitor referred me to Home Link to see how a volunteer could come and help me with my son at home I was very skeptical about it working out.

My son has long term condition and has complicated needs with regards to handling, feeding, medication and communication. As his full time carer, I convinced myself it was my job and my job alone, but this only resulted in me feeling isolated and incredibly tired. I felt anxious about allowing anyone to help with him, even my own family.

When our volunteer started we spent the first session chatting over a cup of coffee, I felt if I got to know them better I would feel less anxious.

As the weeks went on I consciously pushed myself to create a greater physical distance between my son and myself. I started to feel a little lighter after each session, buoyed by my son clearly enjoying our volunteer's company and the sky not caving in afterwards! I started to look forward to the next week. It was a big step to ask someone else to help with the tube feeding, which now feel I can do. Now I am planning the next step - to let someone else care for my son while I leave the house, which I haven’t done before but now feel is achievable in the near future.

Ultimately, I have come to realise that sharing my son's care not only benefits my physical and mental health but also provides a safety net for him. In the event of the unthinkable, I know that someone else could care for him. It has been a tough journey of accepting my son's lifelong disability and letting others in to share his care but slowly with the help of Home Link we are making changes together as a family (including the wider family circle) to safeguard our future.

I also met the family volunteer to discuss how they were feeling about how the visits were going and plan activities to do with the little boy.  I took the Volunteer to visit Midlothian Playbase, a toy library that we are a member of.  We are able to borrow books and toys for 6 weeks. The volunteer borrowed some unusually large books because they felt that A1 size books would perhaps be different for him and easily accessible. The little boy loved them and the Volunteer enjoys spending time with the boy sharing the books, and said "his wee face lights up when we read together".

This support has had a massive impact on the family after only a few weeks and transformed mums feeling about having to take sole responsibility.

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