Family Links

Family Links News Archive

Explore the sections below to read some slightly older (but still interesting!) news stories:


Pregnant parents feel baby kick

Parents give their babies a warm welcome (Mar 2017)

Children & Young People Now (CYP Now) has published a case study of our ‘Welcome to The World’ antenatal programme that helps parents improve attachment with their babies, enhance their coping skills and boost children’s wellbeing.

Read the case study

(Article first appeared on the CYP Now website. Link to original article )

Preview image of the Theory of Change diagram - click to view & download the full version

New report: Developing a Theory of Change for an evidence-supported design (Feb 2017)

This report from the Colebrooke Centre helps commissioners and parent group leaders and their managers understand the connections between the design of the 10-week Nurturing Programme and the expected outcomes for parents. The paper describes the links between the programme specification and the evidence base about what works in parenting support.

The Colebrooke Centre for Evidence and Implementation logo

Download the full Theory of Change paper

See the full Theory of Change diagram

Find more papers in the Why it Works section

Pregnant parent feel baby kick

Welcome to the World Programme helps mums bond better with babies and improves psychological wellbeing (Jan 2017)

Family Links’ antenatal programme focussing on emotional health significantly improves expectant and new mothers’ psychological wellbeing and bonding with their babies, according to new research from University of Hull, released this week.

Positive outcomes from the programme include:

  • A more positive attitude to the baby – while in the womb and as a newborn
  • An increase in psychological wellbeing
  • An increased ability to cope with the demands of parenthood

The 12-month study evaluated the impact of the Welcome to the World programme run by Family Links, and monitored 131 parents (96 women and 35 men) nationwide. 54 of these (43 women and 11 men) completed the evaluation booklets at all three time points. The Welcome to the World Programme has been accessed by over 2,600 parents since 2015 and runs in children’s centres, schools and nurseries around the UK.

The study’s principal investigator, Catriona Jones, Senior Research Fellow at the Faculty of Health and Social Care for the University of Hull, said: “Family Links’ Welcome to the World programme appears to play an important part in preparing parents for parenting and brings significant benefits.

“Many new parents are not aware of the importance of forging a connection with their baby even during pregnancy. The programme increased their awareness of how to start to connect with their baby while still in the womb, by talking or encouraging other family members to feel the baby’s movements. In turn, this led to stronger connections which characterise the bonding process once the baby was born.”

The study identified specific improvements in 5 areas: bonding and attachment, parental wellbeing, breastfeeding, practical care and improvements in attunement.

Julie Jomeen, who is Professor of Midwifery at the University of Hull and has an international reputation for research into maternity care, said: “We know the importance of parents bonding well with their baby – not just to the successful development of the child but to the wellbeing of both parents too. By evaluating the ‘Welcome to the World programme’ we have been able to establish that there are significant benefits to this antenatal initiative offered by Family Links.

Download the full Welcome to the World Evaluation Report

National and regional news outlets gave coverage to the research findings, including BBC Look North, Sky News Radio, Go Q Radio, U105 Radio – Northern Ireland, Telegraph & Argus Features and News – Bradford, BBC Oxford, BBC Somerset, BBC Humberside, BBC Solent, Children & Young People Now, Viking FM, Oxford Times, and Mummy Pages.

Nick Haisman Smith (Family Links CEO) at Canterbury Christchurch University

Pioneering postgrad course launches for teachers to create emotionally healthy classrooms (Jan 2017)

This Thursday teachers and education professionals from the UK and Italy will begin a new postgraduate certificate in Social and Emotional Learning. The course was developed by Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network in partnership with Canterbury Christchurch University. The course looks at relationships and the impact of emotional health on school staff, leaders, parents and children. Nick Haisman-Smith, chief executive of Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network, who is also a doctoral researcher in SEL, commented:

Last week, the Prime Minister set out plans to ‘transform the way we respond to mental illness in young people in schools’. As a young teacher myself, I found myself poorly equipped to deal with the emotional health challenges that arose in my classroom on a daily basis, as well as looking after my own emotional health.

This certificate tackles these important issues through a preventative, assets-based approach, which seeks to support teacher wellbeing, and helps schoolchildren to build skills of resilience, self-esteem, empathy and social skills, meaning that later in life they will be well equipped to deal with and understand challenges that they may come across.

It is my hope that many more teachers and education professionals will access this course in the future, to engender a world where we have emotional health for all.

What makes people happy? Education policymakers must prioritise emotional health (Jan 2017)

Nick Haisman-Smith, Chief Executive of Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network, has blogged for the Huffington Post on why education policymakers must put emotional health first.

Read now on Huffington Post

Why improving mental health support in schools is top of PM's agenda - Nick Haisman-Smith's response on Sky News
Why improving mental health support in schools is top of PM's agenda - Nick Haisman-Smith's response on Sky News

Response to Prime Minister’s mental health announcement (Jan 2017)

In response to Theresa May PM’s plans to transform mental health provision, chief executive of Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network, Nick Haisman-Smith commented:

To improve and support the emotional and mental health of the next generation, it is essential that schools take a whole-school approach to developing strong social and emotional skills in our young people. I welcome today’s announcement from the Prime Minister, particularly the focus on prevention and not just treatment of mental health issues.

Research shows that the development of strong social and emotional skills can lead to diverse life outcomes, including improved mental health, academic attainment, employment prospects, relationship satisfaction and good health.

I urge the Government to back up today’s announcements with sufficient resources and professional development to enable primary schools as well as secondary schools to develop a whole-school approach to emotional health alongside high-quality training for teachers.

This week Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network welcomes the first cohort of students on a Post Graduate Certificate in Social and Emotional Learning in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University. This pioneering and innovative course is designed to bringing together research and practice to empower teachers to lead emotionally healthy classrooms and schools.


Stories of successful intervention in the South East (Dec 2016)

Family Links hosted a free event in London to share knowledge about successful and cost-effective interventions for professionals working with children and families across the South East.

Thanks to everyone who came, it was an interestng and lively day. If you missed out, you can still download the presentation slides and register your interest in our future events.

Find out more about our Regional Events

Download the presentation slides

Lively discussions during our South East Regional Event 2016

Making a difference: our 2016/17 Impact Report (Oct 2016)

Our new Impact Report provides an overview of the work we are doing throughout the UK to empower all children, parents, families, workplaces and schools to be emotionally healthy. This year we have reached over 15,000 parents and 31,000 children through our training and resources, and worked in partnership with a wide range of organisations to offer innovative and effective ways to deliver our vision of a world where adults and children live flourishing lives.

Download a copy of our 2016/17 Impact Report – 4MB

Photo of our runners - Oxford Half Marathon 2016

Oxford Half Marathon (Oct 2016)

A massive well done to all our runners who completed the 13.1 mile route around Oxford on Sunday!
The weather was great and it was good to see so many runners and spectators.

Also a huge thank you to everyone who has supported them and Family Links.
We’ve raised an amazing £2971.81 so far.

You can still show your support and donate. Check out our JustGiving page.

Teacher I Want To Be - Teach First 2016
Teacher I Want To Be - Teach First 2016

Celebrating eight years of partnership with Teach First, bringing emotional health to schools (Aug 2016)

We’re delighted to have worked with Teach First for the eighth year as they place their 10,000th teacher in one of many schools around the UK.

Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network have worked with all Teach First primary participants since 2008, and for the first time this year also trained all 1,000 secondary participants. During our partnership with Teach First nearly 2,750 Teach First teachers have been trained to use Nurturing Programme strategies in their classrooms in order to build positive relationships.

Find out more about our work with initial teacher education providers and universities

Preview image of the 10-week Nurturing Programme Evaluation Journey summary

Evaluation of the Family Links 10-Week Nurturing Programme:
The journey so far, and next steps (Jul 2016)

Family Links is committed to research into the effectiveness of all our programmes, including the 10-Week Nurturing Programme. We have a dedicated research and evaluation team, and work with many university-based and independent research partners to ensure rigorous evaluation and continuous measurement of our impact.

Over the last five years, Family Links has developed the evidence base for the 10-Week Nurturing Programme, working in partnership with the Colebrooke Centre for Evidence and Implementation.

A summary of our evaluation journey to date can be found here.

All of the available research on the 10-week Nurturing Programme is available here.

To accompany the publication of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) Report ‘Foundations for Life’, Family Links and the EIF have published this joint statement about the our evaluation journey and the current evidence base for the 10-Week Nurturing Programme.

With all the learning from our work with the Colebrooke Centre and a number of local evaluations, Family Links is now conducting a consultation on commissioning a further major study on the effectiveness and impact of the 10-week Nurturing Programme. We look forward to reporting on these findings soon as we continue on our evaluation journey.

How the Nurturing Schools Network approach helps trainee teachers
How the Nurturing Schools Network approach helps trainee teachers

Celebrating eight years of partnership with Teach First, bringing emotional health to schools (Jul 2016)

We’re delighted to have worked with Teach First for the eighth year as they place their 10,000th teacher in one of many schools around the UK.

Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network have worked with all Teach First primary participants since 2008, and for the first time this year also trained all 1,000 secondary participants. During our partnership with Teach First nearly 2,750 Teach First teachers have been trained to use Nurturing Programme strategies in their classrooms in order to build positive relationships.

Training for Teach First participants includes responding to children, colleagues and parents with empathy; strategies for positive behaviour management; effective strategies for using praise; effective parental engagement; and managing your own stress in the classroom. 96% of 2015 primary participants felt they were equipped with strategies to manage behaviour in a positive way after attending a Family Links session.

Find out more about our work with initial teacher education providers and universities

Hertfordshire County Council promotes #MyTeenBrain campaign (Jul 2016)

Hertfordshire County Council has worked with Family Links and Dr John Coleman to develop the ‘My Teen Brain’ campaign, over 500 practitioners in Hertfordshire have been trained. The programme aims to improve understanding of teenage brain development and the adolescent developmental process. It includes ideas and strategies to help parents motivate and support young people in an emotionally healthy context. The programme is based on the latest understanding from neuroscience and developmental psychology and the principles of the Nurturing Programme, one of the leading social and emotional education interventions in the UK.

One parent in Hertfordshire commented that My Teen Brain has been insightful and said: “I now find other ways to communicate with my teen and understand that there is a physical reason why teens behave as they do.”

Read more about our Teens programme in What We Do section

Read a full article by Welwyn Hatfield Times

Islamic Values statistics graphic

Nurturing Programme with Islamic Values helps parents feel calmer, seek help and listen to their children (Jun 2016)

A report looking at the outcomes of parents attending the Nurturing Programme with Islamic Values has found that over half the parents were unlikely to have attended a regular parenting programme; parents highly valued the content and helpfulness of the programme. Family Links was awarded a National Prospectus Grant from the Department for Education last year and since then the programme has reached the parents of almost 500 children. Volunteers from the UK Islamic Mission have completed training to enable them to use the Nurturing Programme with Islamic values, a version of the 10-week programme which specifically considers how positive parenting strategies relate to Islamic values. The courses draws on extracts from the Quran and sayings (hadiths) of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) which support the messages in the Nurturing Programme.

The grant also funded training for professionals working in the Muslim community to attend Family Links’ new Working with Muslim Families professional development training. This course is designed to increase understanding and knowledge of Islam and help build positive communication and respectful relationships.

Find out more about our programmes incorporating Islamic values.

Download the Islamic Values Parent Outcomes Report – 2MB

Fair Education Alliance’s State of the Nation Report (Apr 2016)

We’ve been working with the Fair Education Alliance and 50 other organisations on five goals that will tackle educational inequality. The Fair Education Alliance is a coalition of organisations working together to close the education gap by 2022.

The Fair Education Alliance’s Report Card 2015 identifies five goals that will make education fair. Family Links and the Nurturing Schools Network are featured twice in the report and have chaired the working group for Impact Goal Three: Ensuring young people develop key strengths, including character, wellbeing and mental health, to support high aspirations. The report highlights the Nurturing Schools Network’s whole-community approach to social and emotional wellbeing along with Family Links’ range of parenting and family support programmes.

The report was covered by the BBC; Schools Week; TES and the Daily Mail.

“Supporting the social and emotional development of all young people is, in and of itself, an essential goal for our education system – and we also know social and emotional skills are a major predictor of academic achievement, wellbeing and long term happiness.” explains Nick Haisman-Smith, Chief Executive of Family Links.

Download the full report here – 6MB or visit the FEA website and read the executive summary

FEA Report Card 2015 Cover

Family Links partners with Canterbury Christ Church University to pioneer an innovative Postgraduate Certificate in Social and Emotional Learning for teachers. (Feb 2016)

The UK’s leading emotional health charity, Family Links, has announced a new partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University to offer the UK’s first Postgraduate Certificate in Social and Emotional Learning.

Significant research from across the world has consistently shown the positive relationship between improved social and emotional skills and a multitude of other outcomes for children, including academic achievement, mental health, and progression to further study. These modules will advance the pioneering work of Family Links and CCCU to expand social and emotional learning to more schools in the UK.

The PG Cert in SEL comprises three new masters-level modules focusing on the social and emotional dimensions of learning and how to put them into practice in a school. The modules have been developed through the university’s partnership with Family Links’ Nurturing Schools Network, drawing on their extensive experience with professionals and parents to improve the social and emotional climate within schools, classrooms and families.

Download a copy of the full press release.

More information about the modules can be found at Canterbury Christ Church University’s website.

Nick Haisman Smith (Family Links CEO) at Canterbury Christchurch University Jan 2016

Nick Haisman-Smith CEO of Family Links, talking to the Prime Minister about the parent voucher scheme announcement. (Jan 2016)

Welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement of a parenting class voucher scheme as part of the Life Chances Strategy, Family Links CEO, Nick Haisman-Smith said: “We are very pleased that the Prime Minister’s new initiative recognises the central role of good parenting in improving future outcomes for children, families and whole communities.
“At Family Links, we believe passionately that all children deserve the best chance in life. We have helped more than 145,000 families to date and this initiative will enable us to help even more.”
“Our work shows us that if parents feel more confident and capable in their relationships with children it can have a big impact on other aspects of life: making the most out of education, being more prepared for the world of work and helping with mental health issues” says Haisman-Smith. “Over the last few months Family Links has been in conversation with the PM’s special advisors to share our 20 years’ worth of experience in improving outcomes for families through parenting classes. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and look forward to working with David Cameron and the government on developing the Life Chances Strategy”.

Read Family Links’ full press release

Listen to our Director of Programmes Sarah Darton discussing the Prime Minister’s announcement in this BBC interview

Nick Haisman Smith (Family Links CEO) and David Cameron (Prime Minister) Jan 2016
CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Promoting good mental health in teenagers
CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Promoting good mental health in teenagers

Promoting good mental health in teenagers – CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog (Jan 2016)

Nick explains why promoting emotional health in teenagers is crucial, and why we believe that those working with young people and their parents need to have the tools to support good mental health.

Watch Nick’s video blog playlist on YouTube


CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Why relationships matter and how to improve them
CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Why relationships matter and how to improve them

Why relationships matter and how to improve them – CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog (Nov 2015)

Nick explores the importance of relationships in all areas of our lives and gives two practical ways you can improve the relationships in your life.

Parent who attended a Nurturing Programme parent group featured on BBC’s Radio 4 programme Bringing up Britain

Radio 4’s Bringing up Britain is a series focusing on parenting hosted by Mariella Frostrup and featuring discussions with families, experts and policy-makers. In the third and final episode about good manners and discipline in young children, Jennifer explained how attending a 10-week Nurturing Programme parent group has helped her with her parenting and improved her family’s relationships.

You can hear Jennifer’s interview between 8:00 to 9:57 and 29:25 to 31:44 in the third episode in the series.

Hear the programme by going to BBC iPlayer Radio

10-week Nurturing Programme results in improved mental health for children and parents

Two new reports researching the impact of the Nurturing Programme have found positive results for child and parent mental health and improvements in parents’ self-belief.

A study of more than 700 parents taking part in 10-week Nurturing Programme Parent Groups found significant shifts and improvements in child mental health and behaviour.

Download the full report as a PDF

Cardiff Flying Start measured over 300 parents’ levels of parenting self-belief before and after attending a 10-week Nurturing Programme Parent Group. Parents’ self-efficacy greatly increased after attending a parent group.

Download the full report as a PDF

Stories of successful intervention in the South East – Regional Event in London (Nov 2015)

On Tuesday over 50 professionals working with children and families in local authorities, London boroughs, children’s centres, schools, prisons and voluntary organisations met to share stories of successful interventions for parents and children in the South East.

Download the slides from the event here

If you’d like to find out more about this or other regional events please contact Lucy

Family Links Impact report 2015 Release

Our new Impact Report provides an overview of the work we are doing throughout the UK to empower all children, parents, families, workplaces and schools to be emotionally healthy.

Click here to download a copy of our 2015 Impact Report – 2MB

CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Building social and emotional health in schools
CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog: Building social and emotional health in schools

Building social and emotional intelligence in schools – CEO Nick’s 3-minute video blog (Sep 2015)

The start of the school year is a time of change and opportunity. Nick shares some practical ways to improve the social and emotional health of children and adults in schools.

The Nurturing School Network logo

Family Links launches the Nurturing Schools Network (Sep 2015)

Family Links is delighted to launch the Nurturing Schools Network. From September 2015 the Nurturing Schools Network will be the new overarching name for all Family Links’ education programmes, linking schools and ITE providers and encompassing our innovative range of training courses and resources for schools.

Our aim is to build an active community of schools and teachers who are committed to promoting emotional health and wellbeing; where everyone can aspire, flourish and achieve.

Schools, teachers and other professionals who have trained in the last two years you will automatically become members of the network. If you’d like to find out more please contact Claire:

Children and Young People Now Awards 2015 Finalist logo

Family Links’ Islamic Values partnership shortlisted for national award (Sep 2015)

Family Links is delighted to have been shortlisted for the national Children and Young People Now Awards 2015. Family Links’ Nurturing Programme with Islamic Values has been selected for The Partnership Working Award celebrating the partnership between Family Links and UK Islamic Mission. “This is a tremendous achievement against extremely tough competition this year, in which we received a record number of entries from across the country.” Sam Dewey, Children and Young People Now Events Executive.

Children’s Society finds children in England among unhappiest in the world at school (Aug 2015)

A study released by the Children’s Society has found that English children come 14th out of 15 countries surveyed about happiness at school. Low wellbeing caused by bullying and poor relationships with teachers are believed to have contributed to 11% of English children surveyed stating that they were dissatisfied with school life.

Nick Haisman-Smith, Chief Executive of Family Links: “We believe emotional health is a human right. We must ensure every pupil and teacher feels supported, safe and confident at school. Equipping teachers and school staff with preventative and early intervention approaches gives every child the best chance in life.”

Money Advice Service logo

Family Links working with Money Advice Service in Big Lottery funded project (Aug 2015)

The Money Advice Service and Big Lottery Fund in Wales have announced a collaboration on a new pilot project which aims to better equip parents to teach their children money management skills. The pilot will include children’s centres running Nurturing Programme Parent Groups and we were delighted to be invited to be included in this innovative project. Read more about the new pilot project.

Teach First 2015 Summer Insitute logo

Family Links at Teach First Summer Insitute. (Jul 2015)

Family Links is delighted to be working with Teach First as part of Summer Institute 2015. Every primary participant will get a half day taster session focused on creating a positive and emotionally healthy climate in the classroom, staff room and whole school community. They also each get a copy of our essential guide for all school staff: The Teaching Puzzle.

Follow the action on Facebook and Twitter (#TFSI2015)

CPD certified logo from the CPD Certification Service

Family Links announces CPD certification for additional training course.

Family Links is delighted to announce another of our training courses, Talking Teens, has become accredited by The CPD Certification Service. This course gives Parent Group Leaders all they need to deliver the Family Links four week ‘Talking Teens’ workshops to parents of teenagers and pre-teens. The programme is based on the latest research on adolescent development and parenting.

Find out more about our CPD accredited courses for parenting practitioners.

Find out more about our CPD accredited courses for teachers.

A special message from a dad

This single parent has just finished a Nurturing Programme Parent Group and was keen to share this message to encourage other parents to join a group.

Any parent with concerns as to how your dealing with parenthood take a look at this course, we had concerns as to how we were dealing with our daughters behaviour, mainly tantrums, we were looking at books for a long time trying to find out how to best deal with it, the best for us and obviously our daughter. This course was offered to us and we gladly enrolled….

Before you go any further understand that this course is designed for parents what ever your ability/experience, I have 3 children from a first marriage all in their 30’s, and 2 from my present marriage, my older children are well adjusted, happy successful individuals so my concerns weren’t as to how I dealt with parenting in the past but how I was going to deal with it in the future, I have a 5 year old and 3 year old now and I wanted to feel safe in the knowledge that I was doing the best I possibly can for them.

This course offers the parent a wealth of information second to none, no-one is born with built in parenting skills so relax in the knowledge that you are not alone, we are all parents and thats where we connect, thats our shared interest. we are currently putting into practice what we learned on the course so writing now is so easy, we are not at all where we would like to be in terms of being totally satisfied we are doing everything right, but I don’t think anyone can say they really are, all we can do is our best and enjoy the journey, we are without doubt enjoying family life more now with this knowledge. As well as learning a new set of skills you will gain the confidence required to move forward and progress, you wouldn’t take on caring for animals without re-educating yourself so stands to reason that you would want to educate yourself as a parent.

Don’t hesitate, if your looking at this course it’s because you had that spark of interest, go for it.

Family Links featured in guide for teachers

Family Links is delighted that our work with teachers and schools is featured in the Teach First Cross-Phase Toolkit. The toolkit is a practical guide to support teachers and school leaders to establish stronger links across the Early Years, Primary and Secondary Phases.

It is designed to address the risk of disadvantaged pupils falling behind as they transition between Early Years, Primary and Secondary environments. By collaborating across these educational phases, teachers and schools can support pupils to have a smooth transition and to make consistent academic progress.

Download the Teach First Cross-Phase Toolkit

Family Links recognised for high standards of CPD training

CPD affiliate memberFamily Links is proud to have become an Affiliate Organisation of the CPD Certification Service, an independent accreditation authority that aims to increase standards of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Family Links’ Parent Group Leader training, Parenting Puzzle Workshops, CPD Refresher Days for Parent Group Leaders and Transforming Learning Workshops (now known as Developing Emotional Resilience) for schools have all been accredited by The CPD Certification Service and can be found on their website.

Find out more about our CPD accredited courses for parenting practitioners.

Find out more about our CPD accredited Transforming Learning Workshop (now known as Developing Emotional Resilience).

Black and white photo of Nick Haisman, Family Links CEO

An exciting day for Family Links: Nick Haisman formally takes over as CEO (Apr 2015)

As of 1st April, Nick Haisman, who was Family Links’ Director of Education, formally starts his new role as the charity’s CEO. Nick was one of the original Teach First graduates, which he joined straight after leaving Oxford. Since then he has worked in the UK and USA, leading organisations dedicated to improving social and emotional health in schools and the broader community. Nick holds Masters degrees in International Education Policy from Stanford University and Educational Psychology from The University of Bristol.

Nick’s dynamism, integrity and commitment will ensure that Family Links continues to develop as a thriving and successful organisation.

National Prospectus Grant awarded to innovative project focused on parenting with Islamic Values (Mar 2015)

Family Links is one of the voluntary organisations sharing a windfall of around £25 million, the Education Secretary has announced today (Wednesday 25 March).
Read the full press release here.

Woking Young Parents’ Group at Horsell and Sythwood Children’s Centres receive their certificates having completed their OCN studies. (Mar 2015)

Congratulations to Annie, Chloe and Zoe from the Woking Young Parents Group (photo below) who recently completed their OCN studies – all gaining Level 2. They attended a Parenting Puzzle training, run by Horsell and Sythwood Children’s Centres, and were all thrilled to get their certificates. Their training was funded by the European Social Fund and Skills Funding Agency.

Annie, Chloe and Zoe from the Woking Young Parents Group with their OCN certificates

Article in The Journal of Health Visiting about the work of one of our Parent Group Leaders in Northern Ireland (Feb 2015)

The Journal of Health Visiting has published an article we’ve written about Mary Duggan’s work in Northern Ireland using the Welcome to the World Antenatal Programme. Mary is one of our PGLs and has been a health visitor for 27 years.

All Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age 2 – The First 1001 Days ‘Building Great Britons’ Report. (Feb 2015)

Family Links are proud to have contributed to this important report highlighting the need for improved perinatal mental health. The 1001 Critical Days Manifesto Coalition looks forward to a society where every baby receives sensitive and responsive care from their main caregivers in the first years of life – and parents feel confident to raise their children in a loving and supportive environment.

Read more about The 1001 Critical Days coalition of which Family Links is a partner.

Cardiff University evaluation of the Islamic Values programme. (Feb 2015)

This independent evaluation was undertaken by Jonathan Scourfield (Cardiff University) and Qurratulain Nasiruddin (freelance researcher) and reports on the findings of a process evaluation of the Family Links Islamic Values course.

Designed as an in-depth qualitative study, data collection included analysis of programme content; twenty-five hours of participant observation; and thirteen semi-structured interviews. Important factors the report informs on include the development of the Islamic content of the programme, group facilitation, the acceptability of the adapted programme to participants and changes in parenting behaviour and attitudes. For this evaluation only the fathers’ group was observed, although women’s views of the acceptability of the programme were also sought through interviews.

Family Links and Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) Partnership Project (Jan 2015)

A Family Links & CCCU partnership project group has been established to develop further opportunities for long term collaboration with on-going outcomes linked to research and knowledge transfer. Project members include lecturers, students, family practitioners, teachers, researchers and Family Links leadership.

The collaboration aims to build on and further develop expertise across CCCU, Family Links and wider partnerships, to build a beacon area of excellence in the fields of social and emotional health and family partnerships. It also aims to integrate teaching excellence with conducting research and knowledge exchange including building on existing and proposed Family Links research partnerships aimed at improving systems and services for children and families.

A 2-Day workshop exploring “Communicating with Families and Creating Emotionally Healthy School Communities through Research Informed Partnerships” will be held at Canterbury Christ Church University, on the 16th & 23rd June 2015.

Since establishing the project group partnership outcomes have included:

  • Training for trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers
  • Partnership workshops for students, teachers and tutors
  • Parent Group Leader Training for schools and CCCU staff
  • Whole school Transforming Learning INSET
  • Conference presentations
  • Partnership action research workshops and follow up case studies
  • Staff self-study research and linked programme development
  • The development of Masters Modules to run alongside Family Links training opportunities including Leadership for Emotional Health

Canterbury Christ Church University logo


Putting social and emotional health at the heart of our work with children and families: Family Links’ commitment to reducing educational disadvantage as part of the Fair Education Alliance challenge (8th Dec 2014)

Poor social and emotional health and wellbeing are among the most significant contributors to educational underachievement in UK schools. This is especially true for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without the essential skills of emotional self-awareness, empathy and resilience, children are unable to learn effectively, make progress and thrive.

There is however growing consensus, based on an international body of research, that these skills and competencies can and must be developed in young people. Emotionally healthy school communities provide a calm and focused learning environment for children and a nurturing and empathic foundation for positive relationships between children, teachers and parents. Children who learn to understand and manage their own emotions and build positive relationships with others, also develop a positive and resilient approach to school and learning.

The development of these competencies is too important to be left to chance. Our education system must act to put social and emotional health at the heart of all our work with young people.

The launch of the Fair Education Alliance’s Report Card 2014 highlights the scale of our challenge – to reduce educational inequality across the UK. Among the many excellent recommendations, the report calls for an increased focus on social and emotional health, in particular through in school support and improved parental engagement.

Family Links is delighted to have been a founding member of this Alliance – and welcomes the recommendations contained in this Report Card.

Family Links has worked to support school communities to improve the social and emotional health of young people since 1997 – providing professional development and curriculum resources to over 300 schools and 3000 trainee teachers. Many of our school partners also have staff trained to run Family Links parent groups – to help create a community-wide, consistent approach to emotional wellbeing. Through these school and university partnerships, and through our sponsorship of the Blackbird Academy Trust in east Oxford, Family Links is committed to breaking cycles of educational disadvantage and create school communities where everyone can aspire, flourish and achieve.

For more information on our work, please contact the Education Team.

Teenager with speech bubble saying 'Understand development; understand behaviour'

Family Links introduces training to deliver Talking Teens Workshops: a one-day training for Parent Group Leaders (Nov 2014)

A fantastic opportunity to extend your successful use of the Nurturing Programme to the parents of teenagers. The one-day training will enable you to deliver four 2-hour workshops which will explore the highs and lows of parenting teenagers. Based on the most recent research on adolescence, and consistent with the principles of the Nurturing Programme, the workshops will provide a positive view of teenage development and focus on relationships within the family, communication, negotiating, decision-making and strategies to reduce conflict.

We’ve responded to your requests for a Nurturing Programme for teenagers. You can book this one-day Talking Teens training for a team of up to 16 trained Parent Group Leaders, or you can book places on our individual trainings throughout the UK – dates to be published very soon. Please contact Lucy for more information and to register your interest.

Family Links supports ‘The costs of perinatal mental health problems’ report released October 2014

Family Links is proud to be part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business campaign. More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. A report released as part of the campaign today finds that the cost of mental health problems among women in pregnancy is far greater than previously thought:

• The long-term costs to society of perinatal mental illness are more than £8bn for each annual cohort of births in the UK
• Nearly three quarters of this cost results from the adverse impacts of perinatal mental illness on the child
• The cost to the public sector of perinatal mental health problems is five times greater than the cost of providing the services that are needed throughout the UK

Family Links is working with over 50 local authorities to build practitioners’ confidence and skills in parental engagement. We train practitioners to support expectant parents as they make the transition to parenthood by promoting secure attachment and reflective functioning. Our eight week Welcome to the World antenatal programme also supports and encourages breastfeeding and contributes to improved parental wellbeing and it meets UNICEF Baby Friendly initiative stage 3 standards on relationship building. Parent groups give both mums and dads the opportunity to explore mental health problems and discuss the importance of asking for help. Watch our video below and find out more from practitioners and parents who have experienced the programme in Cardiff.

Welcome to the World Programme in Cardiff
Welcome to the World Programme in Cardiff

Welcome to the World has been awarded the CANparent quality mark and aims to:

• Give an opportunity for expectant parents to explore their roots, traditions, hopes and fears for the future
• Increase parents’ understanding of their baby, and how their baby is growing including brain development
• Help parents understand the need to nurture themselves
• Increase parents’ understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding and the practical tasks of caring for a new baby including healthy eating
• Think about managing anger, domestic violence, perinatal depression, dealing with stress and communication

UK Implementation Network (October 2014)

Family Links is delighted to be joining the new UK Implementation Network. The network aims to build capacity, share learning, and connect professionals in implementation, improvement and innovation in services to people. This is a really important development in this important sector and Family Links is fully supportive of the network’s aims.

New Family Links Work with Parents (WWP) Level 4 (C&G 3599 Award). Unit 400 Accreditation Workbook (Sep 2014)

Family Links is delighted to have very positive feedback from the learners who took part in the pilot of this qualification. We were very grateful to their contributions which have enabled us to make final amendments. We can now add this qualification to our menu of online City & Guilds Work with Parents qualifications, for practitioners who have undertaken the “PGL 4-Day Training“what-we-do#parent-group-training or the Work with Parents 2-Day Training.

The Level 4 WWP Unit 400 Build & Maintain Relationships with Parents offers the opportunity of an analytical approach and also supports your CPD and covers assessment and planning, theory related to your own knowledge and practice, reflective practice and the principles and values of work with parents.

Family Links are working with MACTAC to provide an electronic platform whereby the Level 4 Workbook can be accessed to suit the availability of the learner during their work schedule. The qualification of the single unit is expected to take 12 weeks to complete.

Welcome to the World Antenatal programme has been awarded a CANParent Quality Mark (Aug 2014)

Following our assessment day in Hull, our Antenatal Welcome to the World programme has been awarded the CANparent Quality Mark. CANparent is a network of organisations that provide universal parenting classes and advice. Organisations that belong to the CANparent network have proven that each of their classes makes a real and positive difference to parents and families.

Family Links provided such a thorough array of evidence to support the requirements of CANparent, that the assessor said we will provide the benchmark for other programmes when they are assessed.

CANparent Quality Mark logo

The CANparent Quality Mark ensures that organisations running universal parenting classes are:

• evidence based, monitored and evaluated to improve parent / child relationships and to make a positive difference
• recommended by other parents
• responsive, warm and relational, engaging with parents and building on these effective relationships to meet parents’ needs
• run with integrity and have the appropriate professional systems in place

Family Links supports the Everyone’s Business campaign (July 2014)

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance launches its #everyonesbusiness campaign – Tuesday 8th July. Pregnant women and new mothers in almost half of the UK do not have access to specialist mental health services, potentially leaving them and their babies at risk. Maps highlighting the gaps in provision are published on

Family Links is delighted to support the #everyonesbusiness campaign which aims to improve the lives of all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems, and will provide the key information and tools to support commissioners and service providers to make the necessary improvements.

Centre for Social Justice logo

Family Links highlighted in Centre for Social Justice’s Report: Fully Committed? How a government could reverse family breakdown (July 2014)

Family Links recognised as helping schools develop a culture that understands and values relationships and enables teachers to become more confident and effective. “Following their (Family Links) training with Teach First, 98 per cent who attended follow-on workshops agreed that the programme helped them support the emotional needs of pupils and effectively manage challenging behaviour.”

Read about us on Page 43/44 of the full report

Fair Education Alliance logo

Family Links among 25 organisations to launch landmark bid to create a fair, world-class UK education system (June 2014)

Family Links is one of 25 leading organisations taking part in a landmark bid to reverse collective failure to end education inequality through the Fair Education Alliance. The aim is to work towards ending the persistent achievement gap between young people from our poorest communities and their wealthier peers. The Alliance is calling for urgent action to find long term solutions that can address the collective failure to end educational inequality.

Each member of the Alliance has signed up to work towards achieving 5 Fair Education Impact Goals which are launched today at the Sunday Times Festival of Education. The 5 goals are:

  1. Narrow the gap in literacy and numeracy at primary school
  2. Narrow the gap in GCSE attainment at secondary school
  3. Ensure young people develop key strengths, including resilience and wellbeing, to support high aspirations
  4. Narrow the gap in the proportion of young people in education, employment or training one year after compulsory education
  5. Narrow the gap in university graduation, including from the 25 per cent most selective universities.
This new campaign underlines the importance of our mission to improve state education. Every child should have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background. That is why we are investing in the poorest through the pupil premium, setting higher standards for all children through our new curriculum and qualifications, and helping hundreds of struggling schools. I welcome this new alliance of influential educational, charitable and business organisations to help us defeat the entrenched inequality of opportunity which has been a feature of our education system for far too long.
The Coalition Government is committed to raising attainment for all children and to closing the gap that holds disadvantaged children back. And we are making progress. Poor children are doing better than ever at school, with the proportion of children on free school meals getting 5 good GCSEs including English and maths increasing from 31% in 2010 to 38% in 2013. And we are raising our investment. Next year, the Pupil Premium will be worth £2.5bn meaning that poor children will now receive an additional £14,000 throughout their school career. But we know that there is more to do and that central government can’t do it alone. So, I am delighted that through the Fair Education Alliance such a range of organisations have come together to contribute their efforts to tackle this urgent and important problem.
The Fair Education Alliance have set out a series of bold and ambitious goals for the next ten years. The aim: to end the link between social disadvantage and educational inequality that blights our society. I have no doubt today’s launch, bringing together so many powerful organisations, marks an important milestone in tackling the scar of the country’s education divide. I welcome that the new Fair Education Alliance will seek to find the long-term solutions that will help us close the attainment gap and ensure that every child realises his or her potential. I look forward to working with them to achieve this mission.

Read more about the launch of the Fair Education Alliance on BBC News.

Family Links features on BBC Radio 4 programme Born in Bradford (May 2014)

Born in Bradford was launched in 2007 – one of the world’s largest longitudinal studies with 13,500 babies and their mothers agreeing to be followed. Find out about the impact Family Links’ Nurturing Programme has had on the community. Visit BBC’s iPlayer Radio to listen.

Family Links’ Marathon Man! (April 2014)

This Sunday Rob Smith ran the London Marathon for Family Links. He ran 26.2 miles in an amazing 3 hours 49 minutes! Rob’s been raising money to help give every child and parent the best start in life. If you’d like to support him please click here.

CANparent logo

Family Links received CANparent’s Quality Mark (January 2014)

We are delighted that CANparent has recognised our work with the award of their highly-regarded Quality Mark, endorsing our 10-week programme.


Children & Young People Now awards highly commended logo 2013

The Children and Young People’s Charity award (November 2013)
We are thrilled to have been highly commended as the UK charity that has made ‘the biggest contribution, at a local or national level, in improving the life chances of children, young people or families’

Work with Teach First continues (August 2013)
In our fourth consecutive year of working with Teach First, we have run successful workshops for 300 of their trainee primary teachers. These teachers participated in an introductory workshop focusing on strategies to create a positive classroom environment from the first day and ideas for managing disruptive behaviour.

The feedback from these new teachers was extremely positive, one participant reflecting:

There were lots of practical ideas for praise, empathising, choice and how all these lead to a positive classroom environment. It was genuinely one of my favourite trainings; practical, useful, relaxed and welcoming.
We wish these Teach First teachers all the best for the year ahead.

Teaching Puzzle book now in print (July 2013)
Now available for purchase from our online shop, this is our new book for teachers and schools and, as the title suggests, it complements The Parenting Puzzle book. The Teaching Puzzle supports teachers with a range of ideas and strategies to help promote emotional wellbeing, relationship skills and positive behaviour in children.

We were thrilled when writer Philip Pullman (author of the His Dark Materials trilogy) read the book and sent through his comments: ‘I read it all with fascination. I wish something like this had been available when I was a young, uncertain, short-tempered, impatient and inattentive teacher!”

Impetus announces 3-year investment in Family Links (July 2013)
We are delighted to announce that following a rigorous selection process Family Links has been chosen for a 3-year investment as part of the Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation portfolio. Impetus is actively working with us to help us develop our projects and build capacity, based on a robust business plan.

A major initial focus for us is evaluation through a new partnership with the Colebrooke Centre for Evidence and Implementation – find out more about our partnership with the Colebrooke Centre by visiting ‘Why it Works’.

Minister for Families & Children pays a visit (June 2013)
We were very pleased to welcome Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children & Families, to Family Links. A highlight of the minister’s visit was a trip to nearby Pegasus School and a chance to meet children, parents and staff there.

Parenting Puzzle shoots past 100,000 barrier (June 2013)
Our best-selling guide to family life has just marked a major milestone. Since first publication in 2003, The Parenting Puzzle has sold more than 100,000 copies – making it one of the UK’s most popular parenting guides. Visit our online shop to get your copy.

Family Links extends partnership with UK Islamic Mission (June 2013)
Our partnership with UK Islamic Mission goes from strength to strength. We recently ran a highly successful second course in London for 20 volunteers from the Muslim community to train with us as Parent Group Leaders. The Guardian newspaper sat in on some of the training and filed this story. Please get in touch with Sarah Darton if you would like to know more about our plans for Islamic Values training.