"We are keen that all services are as trauma-informed and trauma-responsive as possible so that children and families receive the best support and are not re-traumatised by a system that is there to support them."
Sharon Colvin, CEO of 3D Drumchapel
What is your organisation working to achieve?
We journey alongside families to help create strong family relationships at an early stage. A lot of what we do is work that supports children and their families together, to establish strong attachment and bonding. We also offer peer support to create connections between families, emotional support for parents, perinatal support and workshops around people’s self-esteem and how they can pass on positive self-esteem and foster good mental health in their children. It can often be quite intensive support in terms of the time we spend with each family. Establishing relationships with the family and then working with the family to support their own family relationships is key to what we do.
Where are you focusing your support right now?
Much of our time is focused on resourcing at the moment. When COVID first broke out, our priority was to change our service to online and offer support through telephone calls. We also provided and delivered food parcels and food vouchers which were in high demand and we delivered arts and crafts and wellbeing packs to families. We are currently facilitating outdoor play sessions although this is limited as we still have to reduce the number of people who can attend. We are also doing weekly buggy walks and we continue to deliver online, telephone and 1-1 support which is crucial throughout this time. It has been a real shift in our service delivery. We used to have lots of families coming through our doors every week and now we can only support small groups in outdoor sessions at a time. We have seen increased need for support but our capacity to deliver is actually less due to current restrictions and limitations so there is a disconnect there at the moment that is frustrating. We will keep doing the best for our families with the resources and time that we have.
How do poverty and trauma figure in the work that you do?
Poverty is an issue for so many families and a high number of the families that we support have experience of poverty. I don’t think that families necessarily identify or relate to themselves as living in poverty as most of the people that we support are working but often for low pay and still having to make hard decisions about what food they can put on the table. Throughout COVID, there was a high demand for food parcels and food vouchers and our ‘Bairn Necessities’ service which provides basic baby and child goods to families. We know that poverty has an impact on people’s mental health too; not being able to buy things for your family, lack of opportunity and lack of control over your situation can have a massive impact on your own wellbeing.
Everybody has their own story. All of us. We support parents to articulate their own story to themselves and to process their own journey and what has happened to them. Often their feelings about themselves go back to their relationship with their own parents in their childhood. Many of our parents have experienced adverse childhood experiences. We are currently working with other agencies to ensure Drumchapel is a ‘trauma-informed community’. We are keen that all services are as trauma-informed and trauma-responsive as possible so that children and families receive the best support and are not re-traumatised by a system that is there to support them. We are keen to raise awareness around the impact of trauma, mitigate against the effects of trauma and also prevent future trauma from taking place. Our message is that everyone is valuable.
How can funders support your work?
Longer term funding would really benefit organisations like us. The most we normally get is three-year funding from funders, which is great, although it can take three years to build up and really establish a new project or piece of work and then that funding stream will come to an end. We want to be as diverse as possible with our funding so we are not reliant on the one funder, although this does mean that it can get quite hard to manage lots of different funding streams. If we lose funding for a specific post for example, it can be hard to replace and that can be frustrating. It almost feels like we are a victim of our own success as we have secured many different funding streams, but it just gets harder to keep them all going.
We really appreciate when Funders also support our work by building a relationship and connection with us. We believe that a simple message to say ‘Hi, how are you getting on? Is there anything further that we can do to support you?’ really goes a long way. The financial support is great, but it is also important to take it that step further and build genuine relationships with organisations so that funders can see the bigger picture.
What changes would you like to see in your area of focus over the next five years?
I would really like to see a collective vision with everyone working together as one team to see improvements in outcomes for children and families. We need to see the system as a whole and make required changes to ensure our services and supports are more effective. Services need to be co-ordinated with a whole systems approach across each locality. We have begun this approach in Drumchapel via the Drumchapel Early Years Network which brings all services together to share, reflect and test new approaches. I also think it is really important that children and families are at the heart of this process and the ones who drive the vision and are involved in these conversations.
What long term system changes would best address the issue?
I think testing new approaches is essential and seeing what their impact is and scaling it up if it is appropriate to do so. Sharing key learning with each other is vital so that we can all learn from it and work together to make our approach better.
I also think that when a family has a baby, there should be an automatic assumption that there is a community of support around them that is effective, accessible and there are people who genuinely care. I’m not sure that the system provides that at the moment, there is a lot of bureaucracy and regulations that prevent people from building genuine relationships on an individual basis. There needs to be the resource in place to allow people to build relationships but also having those in the system who care, make time for reflective practice and are genuinely curious about how we can do better.
For the full article, visit: https://www.therobertsontrust.org.uk/news-and-blogs/voices-3d-drumchapel/