“The workshops encouraged my son (age 12) to talk about his feelings”.
To evaluate the project a combination of questionnaires and interviews were used with the families who took part in the workshop programme. Feedback was also received from social work and family support work professionals working with the families. Here are examples of some of the results we found:
Children had improved communication skills.
After completing the workshop programme with their families, two thirds of the children in the target age group of 10–13 year olds said they had talked to their mum more since coming to the workshops. These improved lines of communication will enable them to be more open about their experiences and emotions with their non-abusing parent. Project workers noticed that the young people’s physical and verbal communication skills had improved by the end of the workshop programme, both with their parents and others around them.
Parents had improved communication skills.
Their willingness to listen, respect and understand their children was helped by working together with them on an equal level during the activities. Many of the parents reported that they were more comfortable talking to her children about domestic violence since the workshops.
Parents and children enjoyed the workshops.
The activities were structured to allow everyone to play a part and to facilitate team working. The positive associations of doing something enjoyable together as a family acted to bring them closer together and enabled them to communicate better. Project workers could see the improvement in the families’ communication and team working capacities over the course of the 10-week programme.
Children’s behaviour improved.
Project workers and parents observed an improvement in the behaviour of the young people during the workshops; they appeared happier, more engaged with others and more positive. Feedback from social workers working with a boy with particularly challenging behaviour was that he had been withdrawn and uncommunicative at home but after taking part in the Let’s Talk workshops he had begun to appear happier and to have a more positive outlook.
Participants felt safe and respected.
A relaxed and positive atmosphere was created in the workshops. Many of the parents involved reported that both they and their children had liked knowing that everyone there had been through a similar situation but many were glad that the domestic violence agenda had not been brought up as this enabled them to have fun with their children and improve their relationship with them in a comfortable environment. This is important for the young people’s understanding of their situation.
All the field-testers of the toolkit said that it helped to improve the quality of their assessment and the majority also said it helped improve communication with the family. All the field-testers were keen to use the tool kit as part of their practice in the future and they also reported that they felt confident using the tool kit from the training given and guidelines supplied.
The success of the workshop programme and tool kit has resulted in wide support for the project within the domestic violence services within Islington enabling the reach of the programme to be extended. The tool kit is popular and well used at Family Action and within the domestic violence team at Islington Children’s Services.
“(My granddaughter and I) have more conversations and listen better. I encourage her to talk more and listen to what she has to say, asking her questions and answering her questions. Before I was worried about talking to her in case she asked difficult questions, now I try to talk better, share and be as open as possible.”
“(The project has) helped the kids to know they’re not the only ones”.
Summary of evaluation results of the Let’s Talk workshop programme:
- 100% of parents (who completed the programme) said they enjoyed the workshops
- 100% of parents said they felt safe and respected in the group
- 72% of parents said they talk to their children about their feelings more often since attending the workshops
- 50% of parents said they found it easier to talk to their children about domestic violence since attending the workshops
Quotes from parents:
- “The activities were amazing and the staff and artists were great.”
- “I feel less isolated and more confident and my son is much more confident in himself and is getting along better with others.”
- “Both myself and my son are more confident and happy about our future and more able to deal with the past.”
- “A welcome safe place where we both enjoyed and had fun.”
- “I got more than what I expected. The best activity either my son or I have done.”
- “The activities were fun, not too school-like and not too like therapy.”
- “Communication with my children improved, they supported me to deal with my son’s behaviour.”
- “Since attending the workshops we understand one another and do more things together and going out.”
- “Me and my son have become a lot closer and I feel comfortable to allow him to ask me anything.”
- “I spend more one to one time with my son and daughter.”
- 100% of children said they enjoyed the workshops
- 83% of children said they have been talking to their mum and having fun with their mum more since attending the workshops
Quotes from children:
- “What I liked most about the workshops was spending time playing with my mum, getting to meet people, playing games and creating.”
- “Things are different at home. I am talking more and spending time with my family. Me and my family are always happy and safe.”
- “At home things are a lot more fun and I am kinder to my little sister.”
- “At home we are more relaxed and free to talk to each other.”