Conwy Family Centres – Survival, Acceptance, Growth

Ten weeks into the Covid-19 pandemic, we recorded a second video with Deborah Job of Conwy Family Centres. The first video focused on introducing the service and their initial reaction to the physical limitations imposed by the reaction to Covid-19.

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During her presentation Deborah referred to the three stages of pandemic response as described by Gabrielle Treanor, and presented to the Conwy Family Centres team by their local Child and Mental Health Service.

When we recorded the first video, we were firmly in survival mode, looking at the wreckage of our plans for the next few months. By now, Conwy Family Centres are accepting of the situation, continually working and adapting their approach to carry on supporting families.

Successes and challenges

A notable success of their work is shown by the fact that a sewing group of families have been making bags for staff at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. This group was brought together by Conwy Family Centres to support each other at Canolfan Dinorben in Abergele. The network has carried on independently of Conwy Family Centres, creating a virtuous circle of support and helping others, which is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing

Deborah also touched on the challenges that they have faced, one of which is enabling staff to be available to offer support to families whilst also giving the same staff the time and space to look after themselves and their own families. They have achieved this by establishing a rota system, making sure there is always someone at the other end of the phone. This also enables staff to have a break from their work and to look after themselves.

Another challenge they have faced is the difference between responsibilities and needs that the IT departments of large organisations work with, compared to the varying devices, infrastructure and abilities out in the community. The business IT support that Conwy Family Centres have enabled them to work effectively in normal times, but the imperatives of the Covid-19 situation has meant that they have had to work differently, in ways that business focused IT has sometimes struggled to support.

Further developments

As we remain in the Covid-19 situation with the challenges that it poses, very little stays still for any length of time and there have been a few developments since the video was recorded.

A couple of things that were mentioned which have now become operational and are working well.

The Play Spaces scheme has been a real lifeline for some families who don’t otherwise have access to a space to play and spend time with one another in the outdoors. The first family who took part was a family of six children who hadn’t been out of their house / small garden since the 18th March. It’s also been a great opportunity for Conwy Family Centres to see some families face to face at a safe social distance.

They have also since found a solution for the online groups, and have set up a timetable of activities based on feedback from families. These include informal chats, baby massage live sessions, and informal parenting groups.

Their next challenge is to begin to slowly reintroduce more face to face work with families in a safe way. As with grief and change we will feel and adapt differently, but hopefully we will keep moving forward move to the growth circle of the response model. This extraordinary situation has brought communities together and made connections, even though we are apart. It has also forced public services to adapt and innovate as mentioned in the video and led to developments which will enable them to provide an even better service in future.

Here’s a link to the video

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