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New support for separating families

Relate Greater Manchester South (GMS) is providing services recommended by a new Government campaign to help separating families.

The Ministry of Justice has launched a Government campaign on which aims to coordinate and promote information and resources available to separating families.

This comes in response to Relate’s new national report, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, which reported that divorcing and separating families are being let down by a complex support system which is hard to access and even more difficult to navigate. The result is families trapped in a cycle of conflict, leading to poor outcomes for children. Relate called for an interactive online portal where people can access all the support they need before, during and after separation, as well as a national helpline.

The Ministry of Justice have worked closely with Relate, National Family Mediation, Citizens Advice and other organizations to develop a campaign aimed at signposting those going through separation to sources of information and advice that will benefit them, and help them to put the wellbeing of their children first.

The campaign identifies 3 key areas:- Family Mediation, The Separated Parent’s Information Programme (SPIP) and the use of an online resource, The Parenting Plan. Relate GMS offer both family mediation and the SPIP, as well as encouraging and supporting separating parents to access the online Parenting Plan.

Mediation is a confidential process that assists separated couples in making arrangements for their children and/or finances, with the help of a trained and impartial Mediator. It is an avenue through which clients can receive legal information and be given the opportunity to openly discuss matters with each other, which, upon reaching agreements, can subsequently be formally recorded. Mediation is available in a wide variety of situations; a few examples are married couples, cohabiting couples, grandparents, same sex couples and couples who separated some time ago. Relate GMS offer publicly funded Mediation to those who qualify for Legal Aid and are always available to be rung for further information regarding the process.

Victoria Hill, a family mediator at Relate GMS says:
“The aim of the game with mediation is compromise, and to focus on moving forward as amicably as possible. I have found that this takes a combination of looking at the best interests of the children, family law and thinking outside the box. Mediation can be an incredibly challenging job, but helping families through what is probably one of their hardest times of their lives makes it worth every effort! Interestingly, I find that remaining impartial has become an easier part of my job. I do not have the right, nor any reason, to take sides and make judgements in any situation that comes through our door.”

The Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is a short course for separated parents, aimed at helping them understand the impact of any ongoing conflict on their children. The course provides advice and support on how to support their children and make sure that any issues in their and their ex-partner’s relationship aren’t negatively affecting them. Relate GMS SPIP providers recommend the online Parenting Plan as well as the ‘Oneplusone’ website and ‘The Parent Connection– Getting it right for children when parents part’.

Chris Hall, a SPIPS provider at Relate GMS says:
“This course helps and supports parents to focus on their love for their children at a time of heightened emotions for them. By concentrating on their children’s needs and using the skills taught on the course, parents can find new ways of communicating with the other parent. This reduces conflict and helps the whole family.”

Further information on the MoJ campaign can be found here.

Relate GMS offers information, advice and counselling for all stages of your relationships, including family counselling which can include support for families and parenting. Call us on 0300 003 2331 or click here for more information.

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com