Parentline is a line that offers information and support, and the chance to talk through the issues facing parents.
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Estelle Matthews: Dorit, perhaps you would explain exactly what Parentline does? Dorit Braun: Well, we provide a 24-hour helpline for any parent or carer of a child. We have an email helpline, we have got a website with loads of information and we also provide courses and workshops for parents on parenting skills and topics of concern, and those are either face to face where we have got an office or you can do them via the telephone if you look at our website. Estelle Matthews: Now, what kind of calls do parents tend to make here? Dorit Braun: Well, there's a whole range really, because we are bit like going to your doctor. People can ring us about anything and everything, and they do. And roughly 10% of people are ringing about babies and very young children, but roughly half are ringing about teenagers and difficulties with teenagers. A lot of people ring about relationship difficulties with the other parent. They may have with split-up, they may have be in a new relationship. They may be together, but not getting along very well, or disagreeing about how they are approaching being parents. And then there is sort of everything else that you can think of in between, school, child-care, nurseries, the lot. Estelle Matthews: Now, this has actually being going a long time now, and whose idea was it and how successful has it been? Dorit Braun: Whose idea is really interesting, because it's being going for 25 years, it's a bit longer actually in some parts of the country. And the idea was generated by a numbers of groups of parents in different parts of the country, thinking that parents actually when things got really tough needed to have somewhere, anonymous and confidential that they could talk, rather than having the sort of heavy-handed the state and the formal social services intervening. A lot of local groups and local helplines were set up in the 1970s, and those have sort of persevered and grown and become one national free phone 24-hour service. In terms of success, well, we have had external evaluations; I have gone back to parents and asked them what they make of the service or the services actually, because all of them have been evaluated and how they feel about them and all the indications are that actually they hugely successful. In terms of the helpline, people feel that they have are being listened to, sometimes the very first time, and that they had an opportunity to think about what needs to happen in their family and to rehearse how they might do that, and to regain some of the confidence that they have often lost in themselves as parents because we very much trust that they know their family and themselves best of all. But in the groups and workshops that we run, very similar stories from parents about feeling that they have been understood, they have been able to support each other, they have been able to think about strategies that might work in their family, they report much reduced levels of conflict at home, increased confidence and feeling that they understand their children better and they understand their children's needs better. So and again the external evaluations are showing all of that. So obviously I would say that, but we think we provide some really important and good services. Estelle Matthews: So how on earth do you keep the Parentline funded? Dorit Braun: Nightmare, it is a nightmare. The helpline and website and email service, we are lucky enough to have a large Government grant for that, because they have recognized that parents need somewhere to go that's independent and confidential and anonymous. The local provision that we have got in terms of courses and workshops and all the other work that we do locally is funded from a whole hotchpotch of local grants and local commissions and local contracts and then we get trusts and foundations funding other bits and pieces of work, and we're constantly looking for sponsorship and donations and all rest of it, and like any charity funding
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