Tavistock Centre calls for new family hubs to support couple relationships
Conservative conference hears that embedding relationship support in a new model of children centre service delivery is fundamental to tackling the £47 billion cost of relationship breakdown.
Speaking at a CSJ fringe event with the Relationship Allinance, at the Conservative Party Annual Conference in Manchester, Susanna Abse, Chief Executive of The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships emphasised the importance of ensuring that relational approaches to working with parents and families become central to the work of children's centres, the role of which is being consulted on this autumn.
“In reality, though we apply considerable resources to supporting families, only a tiny proportion of these resources are specifically aimed at strengthening family relationships,” Abse noted.” The ambitions of The Relationships Alliance and indeed the APPG on Supporting Couple Relationships is to develop the whole gamut of relationship support activity encompassing the entire spectrum of need. At one end of that spectrum comes a wide range of activities and approaches which we believe should be embedded in this new model of children’s service provision. These include ensuring that frontline practitioners are trained so that the work they do with individuals and groups is relationally focused.”
Further important areas of focus were outlined, including: making sure that the parenting work which takes place in Family and Relationship Hubs focuses specifically on the quality of the adult couple relationship, rather than on what goes on between mother and child, or father and child – due to the importance of the quality of the adult relationship, which research indicates is critical to children’s outcomes. Relationship education and marriage preparation classes should also form part of the core offer from these new family and relationship hubs, as they provide a space for people to reflect on and learn skills to help them negotiate the challenges that they may face during their relationship and also during the transition to parenthood. Equally importantly there should be readily available couple counselling services, and signposting to online source of information and help to support people’s relationships.
The meeting heard of TCCR's substantial experience in this area, exemplified by the delivery of couple counselling, of which just two examples would be anoffer via GPs surgeries in areas such as Hackney'and a project Greenwich, which has demonstrated that providing a couple focus adds significant value to the effectiveness of parenting support in community settings. In making the case Abse surmised the next possible steps, which included investment and support from UK Government and local implementation:
“The final decision, will of course be up to local authorities to determine the ultimate shape of this new model of delivery, I don’t think the local authorities can do it all by themselves. Rather, we would urge the Government to create the conditions – through the measurement of relationship quality by locality, for example – such that there is an expectation on local authorities to include this kind of support as standard in their offer.“
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Notes to Editors
- About TCCR
Established in 1948 The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR) is a registered charity internationally renowned for delivering and developing advanced practice, training and research in therapeutic and psycho-educational approaches to supporting couples.
At TCCR we place couple relationships and their impact on mental and physical health, children’s outcomes and society at the centre of service provision. We provide affordable couple counselling and psychotherapy and deliver professional, accredited training to the next generation of couple therapists – from introductory courses to doctoral qualifications. Our innovative projects – Parents as Partners, Parents in Dispute and Living Together with Dementia have been researched and developed to support and improve the quality of our relationships when they are most challenged. Our evidence based research aims to:
- illustrate how couple relationships shape our whole society
- overcome the cultural and systematic barriers to couples receiving the support they need to build and maintain healthy relationships, both as a couple and as parents
- develop effective and innovative relationship support interventions.
The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships, 70 Warren Street, London W1T 5PB
Registered Charity Number: 211058. Company number: 241618 registered in England and Wales. The Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology
- Full speech is attached here
- Image of Susann Abse is attached