Parents Aid is a registered charity, serving Essex families since 1989, which offers families both advocacy and mediation. The organisation is dedicated to keeping families together and provides support and assistance to parents who are struggling in difficult circumstances. Parents Aid recognises that people who are in contact with social workers and other professionals in relation to their children may themselves need support. This is not to say that Parents Aid ‘take sides’; rather, they acknowledge the taxing, child-focussed work undertaken by professionals, alongside the proposition that the needs of parents are accordingly sometimes given relatively little attention.
Parents Aid works with parents when child protection enquiries are underway or have been completed, when children have been placed in local authority care, or when the family is otherwise involved with the social services department, and also offers help to a much wider group of socially excluded families who need a helping hand or to talk with someone informed yet sympathetic. The team is experienced and well-qualified, with a blend of ex-professionals and former service-users to call upon. There is a detailed yet user-friendly information booklet, updated in line with current legislation, downloadable from their website parents-aid.org.uk, and over the years they have drawn up a suite of policy documents covering child protection, equal opportunities and confidentiality issues. Their helpline, 01268-763631, receives enquiries 24/7 (voicemail messages left will be returned within 24 hours).
Parents’ Aid is based in Essex but since the pandemic we have been delivering all services remotely, having discovered during the lockdowns that we are by this means able to support a larger number of families with greater facility and additionally to outreach a wider area. Families who for any reason need in person visits will be accommodated at a neutral venue locally or if appropriate at their home address. They depend on volunteers, trained in-house, to deliver these services – advocacy and information, family mediation, anger and aggression management and one-to-one parenting support – and currently their training is also delivered remotely. They make a one-off charge of just £75 to any local authority wishing to refer a family to us for support; this charge is only enforced when the family engages. Families who self-refer are invited to make a donation as long as they have the means to do so.