actionforchildren
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How reactive funding helped Parent Talk to scale and meet the increasing needs of parents

When Advent International mobilised their resources to support those in need during the Covid-19 crisis, the partnership with Action for Children began.

Why the partnership works

Pre-pandemic, Parent Talk already existed on a small scale. Demand for the service soared overnight so we had to scale rapidly. We brought forward our plans to develop our integrated 0–19 service and went from 3 to c.30 staff members to support parents via 1:1 live chat. You can read more about exactly what we did and how in this blog, ‘Parent Talk: a rapid response to the needs of parents [in a pandemic]’.

To scale like this we needed funding. And quickly. Advent International had begun their response already. They recognised how we were responding to the crisis and the needs we were meeting. The partnership began almost immediately, which was critical to our ability to support parents desperately looking for support with nowhere else to go.

The partnership gives us a lot of flexibility, as well as generous funding. This way we can meet parents’ needs and respond to new challenges families face.

What we’ve done so far

We recruited a Digital Parenting Support Co-ordinator so we could scale safely. We’re now better able to follow robust safeguarding processes, offer a quality service to parents and look out for the wellbeing of our staff.

We hired an education specialist to give parents and children pastoral support in school. This was an increasing need because of lockdown. Lockdown 3 means that the majority of children are home learning again and exams are cancelled, this education role is more important than ever.

We scaled and launched our existing service into the new integrated service. Parents of children aged 0–19 can find information, advice and guidance in one place for the first time and access 1:1 chat more easily.

Our parenting team created 15 pieces of content offering education advice. This helped meet families’ most pressing needs — both in lockdown and as children returned to school. Parents still face many challenges with school refusal and changing guidance or restrictions. In 2021, we’ll continue to identify and create content that can support as many parents as possible.

The difference the Advent International partnership has made

In the first seven months of the partnership, we supported an extra 95,000 parents, including 2,300 1:1 conversations.

Education and school was a need identified in 880 of these 1:1s. Other issues include: child emotional wellbeing and mental health, resilience, behaviour, child development and parent wellbeing. The Advent International partnership may focus on supporting parents with education, but the impact goes far beyond.

The education based information, advice and guidance we have created as a result of the partnership has supported almost 10,500 parents.

What parents have said about the service

“Thank you for helping me a very difficult moment. Your response was exactly what I needed to help me keep going when I was ready to give up. The links you shared are also very helpful.”

“I really appreciated how reassuring she was and how she put me at ease that I was doing the right thing for my son and I, she was understanding and just to hear that I’m doing the right thing being brave and by asking for help made me feel a little better as I’m very anxious at the moment so I really appreciated her advice and the help she gave me.”

“Another cracking idea that has gone so well. Thank you so much. You are literally saving my sanity right now at the same time as helping my little one cope with her anxiety. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“Absolutely incredible suggestions to help my anxious daughter who is refusing school. A brilliant listener. Genuinely felt warmth and compassion even through text. Thank you. You may have just saved my day from becoming an emotional disaster.”

“She was amazing, she offered more help to me in our short conversation than I’ve had in years of trying to get help for my son. I cannot thank her enough”

We’re grateful to have a funder who is flexible, reactive and passionate about our cause. As we approach the end of their generous funding of Parent Talk, we’re grateful to have the continued support from Advent International to allow us to help families through this third nationwide lockdown. Whilst the partnership may focus on education, the impact for families across the UK goes beyond this.

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Service Design, Digital & Innovation at Action for Children

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Rachael Gilthorpe

Rachael Gilthorpe

Digital Services Lead (Parenting) at Action for Children

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