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What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

During COVID MPFT have had a number of virtual meetings to learn from the Rollercoaster project, which was a project to support parents and carers, developed from lived experience, to look at how we can replicate this in South Staffordshire. In particular, during COVID, much of the peer support has moved online, including running Facebook live and zoom calls for parents and carers to give and get support from one another, with the support of CAMHS staff to deal with any clinical or challenging issues.  Our one parent support group, which operates in only one district, has struggled to gain momentum due to lock down and we want to be able to offer peer support to more parents at what we know is a challenging time.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Parents of children with emotional and mental health needs often feel isolated and lack support in caring for their child. This has been particularly true and evident during the COVID-19 lockdown.  The MPFT project team believe that supporting parent’s anxiety and mental health benefits children.

Children with emerging mental health problems need to receive support in a timely way to help them develop improved emotional well-being and reduce the need for specialist services where these are not required, in some of our districts there may be long waiting times for support. Empowering parents with the knowledge of how to support their child, and to understand that what they are experiencing is normal, through a support forum the project team believe help reduce demand for services.  This would also develop support/signposting opportunities aligned with the THRIVE model which is being implemented across Staffordshire.

How will the project be delivered?

The project would employ a parent, as expert by experience, to help the organisation develop a wider range of workshops and support groups for other parents whose children who have mental health needs.  This person would work alongside a CAMHs practitioner.  They would work with other parents (whom we would pay for their time) to design and deliver training via video conferencing to provide parents with the information and skills to support their child with emotional needs.

The project would pilot training and continuous support for parents to become peer mentors to other parents and establish an online communication platform for parents to engage with peer mentors and practitioners.

Learning from the PLACE Network, a group developed with the funding support of the Charlie Waller Trust, we would measure impact by parent feedback at the end of every session and via questionnaires. We would monitor attendance at events.

How is your project going to share learning?

Our proposed model is primarily via online delivery. The majority of peer support nationally prior to the COVID pandemic was via face to face meetings.  This project will be able to share learning around delivering support to parents via online media as the primary mode of delivery.

We will share learning via quarterly updates on the project and its outcomes which we would share with Q community and the PLACE Network. The PLACE Network provides a space for parents/carers and professionals delivering support to parent/carers across the UK.  We can learn from this network and share ideas.

How you can contribute

  • We would love ideas from Q community members on how we promote this and how we engage parents to join online discussion.
  • We know from the experience of others that it takes time to create a safe environment for parents face to face and we need to learn how to do this better virtually.

Plan timeline

1 Jan 2021 Development of peer support JD
1 Mar 2021 Confirmation of Award
2 Mar 2021 Commence recruitment of Peer support worker
2 Mar 2021 Identify CAMHS practitioner lead
8 Mar 2021 Comms with local parents
8 Mar 2021 Survey parents on topics of interest
1 Apr 2021 Develop online platforms
19 Apr 2021 Design evaluation tool
19 Apr 2021 Estimated start date of workers
19 Apr 2021 Marketing of workshops
26 Apr 2021 Draft programme of events
17 May 2021 Begin programme of workshops
30 Jul 2021 Evaluation of phase 1 events
19 Aug 2021 Review programme in line with evaluation
6 Sep 2021 Phase 1 evaluation report
13 Sep 2021 Phase 2 workshops/events
7 Dec 2021 Evaluation of Phase 2
13 Dec 2021 Evaluation report phase 2
4 Jan 2022 Identify opportunities to extend project subject to evaluation
4 Jan 2022 Share evaluation with commissioners
10 Jan 2022 Phase 3 workshops commence
31 Mar 2022 Phase 3 evaluation

Project updates

  • 30 Sep 2021

    Update September 2021

    What have you learned so far, either from the successes you have had or from where things haven’t gone to plan?
    Implementing a parent support is a new project for us. I don’t think we appreciated the time it would take to get a job description through the Agenda for Change panel as trying to match the parent support worker role to a national profile proved quite a challenge. Support from the Involvement team was very much appreciated. With this and the pandemic our timelines have been put back by 6 months. However after a successful recruitment our parent support worker is in post and up and running with some great ideas and being supported by CAMHS colleagues.
    Some other challenges have been navigating the world of GDPR but we are learning and networking from other support groups and how they have managed this area. Getting new starters set up on all the systems required – the NHS is a complex world of IT systems – has been time consuming
    What could others learn from your experience of working with a range of stakeholders and collaborating across boundaries (geographical, professional, sector) – including what is working well and any challenges you have faced?
    We are too new into our project to share any learning currently
    What are the next steps for your project over the coming months?
    The next steps for us is delivering the first group on 10th November – this will be a structured session using liberating structures so lots of communication and advertising is being planned. Also looking at running drop in sessions for parent support – the timings for these so far will take place between 1 -2:30pm.
    Exploring the how and what of evaluating our project is a current debate and the evaluation workshops have been very useful for this. Clearly defining the support offer to avoid being too accessible nor too restrictive has been a challenge. 12 months is a short period to get interest and involvement with parents and our workers have limited time for this engagement/communication.
    How can the community get involved in your project?
    Any ideas or suggestions how to get more parents involved or any tips and tricks about what has worked well for any parent groups they have been running


  1. Hi Lyse. Great to see this proposals for providing more support to parents online. I'm working for the Health Foundation to identify opportunities for collaboration during Q Exchange. I think there will be a number of Q members interested in this area and may be able to give some helpful feedback. In particular, you might find approaching the QI in mental health online group for ideas. One area where your idea might need some more refining will be around how you will measure its effectiveness and gain feedback from parents. The online group might be able to help you with this.  I notice there are also a few proposals similar to yours within the current list of idea - it might also be worth having a look at how these are described and are being developed.  Best wishes, Emma

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