Skills for Life
Frimhurst Family House
Many of the parents with whom ATD Fourth World UK is involved consistently voice their willingness, and their need, to learn the basic parenting skills necessary to keep their family together and to offer a better future to their children. A recurring theme in these discussions is that confidence is a vital prerequisite for parents taking part in local parenting courses and that Frimhurst Family House has a role in building and fostering that self-confidence.
With its emphasis on providing families with an environment in which to relax, to spend quality time together, to think clearly, to learn new skills, to meet other families in the same situation and to learn together in a respectful, non-judgemental environment, Frimhurst is more than just a house; it is home. Parents continually tell us that Frimhurst is where they come with their children to take a break from the stresses of their daily life. In the words of one father, “When I’m at home, if my son is playing outside I watch him from the window all the time, and if I can’t see him I start to panic and react. But when I’m at Frimhurst, even if I can’t see him, I know he is safe and I go and make a cup of tea.”
Supported by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, the ‘Family Learning’ residential weekends held throughout the year offer residential support to many families living in poverty, thus giving them a break or respite away from these everyday pressures. But they also aim to create the right conditions in which families could learn the skills they want and need. Working closely with parents and children, professionals are invited to facilitate workshops such as early child bonding, budgeting, accessing rights and healthy eating. “It is hard to work with professionals when we don’t trust each other. It is important to build trust,” one mother said during a recent residential stay.
Having always believed that, with the right conditions, people living in poverty and professionals can work together and learn from one another, ATD Fourth World UK makes every effort to ensure the participation of very disadvantaged families. Visiting families at home or in their communities in preparation for these learning weekends is fundamental to the success of this project, as is continued support once the families have returned home to encourage them to put these newly discovered skills into practice.