Parenting groups and courses

Children undoubtedly enrich our lives, but raising them can be difficult; many parents and carers would welcome advice or help.

Parents want to give their children a good start in life and see them succeed, and we know the quality of parenting has an impact on children, families, communities and society.

Some challenges faced by parents today are very different from those faced by pervious generations. All parents have the right to expect high-quality information, advice and support from public services.

1. How Westminster supports parents

The council runs many parenting courses from helping with teenagers or very young children to giving your child a sense of their community. We are committed to helping parents be the best they can be.

View courses in Westminster

Our courses are held at venues across Westminster and help you to:

  • build positive relationships with your child
  • make parenting and family life more enjoyable and less stressful
  • grow confidence as a parent
  • gain a greater understanding of child development
  • learn new skills and strategies
  • support your child to learn and grow
  • reflect on your own experiences of being parented
  • discover other support and services available to you and your family

Browse this guide to find out more about the free courses available.

    For any further queries, contact Bridie Collins, Parenting Development Manager, on bcollins@westminster.gov.uk or 0207641 3090.

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    View the parenting strategy

    2. Circle of Security

    Circle of Security (COS) groups are user-friendly, non-judgmental and enjoyable. Using the COS parenting DVD programme, they help families tune in and respond to the emotional needs of their children.

    Parents of small children would enjoy the opportunity to tune into the emotional needs of their children. However the programme was designed to be particularly helpful to families where the caregivers find it hard to have empathy for their children or to comprehend and respond to their children’s emotional needs.

    The programme has consistently proven to be successful where parents and carers struggle with organisation and insecurity.

    More information on Circle of Security (PDF, 248KB)

    Find Circle of Security groups in Westminster

    3. FAST (families and schools together)

    FAST helps parents to:

    • better support their children’s education
    • build support networks with other parents and community members
    • take a more active role in their child’s school
    • play a greater role in their local community

    This is an 8-week, after-school programme for parents and children run by trained community members, parents and school staff. Sessions happen at a school.

    Parents and children will enjoy activities proven to improve children’s achievement and behaviour in and outside school as well as build relationships between parents and children.

    Research shows achievement at school can be improved when parents are involved with their children's learning. FAST helps parents engage with their children’s education and build lasting relationships which can benefit the family, school and community.

    Results

    87.5% of participating parents felt more able to support their child in their education after FAST, and there was an 8% increase in the overall academic competence of FAST children.

    Teachers report improvements in children's confidence and behaviour in the classroom, and a stronger sense of community while parents notice greater enthusiasm for going to school, more confidence when doing schoolwork, calmer behaviour and new friendships.

    Get involved

    Teachers looking to run FAST at their school or community members wanting to be involved in a FAST programme should contact Annabelle Narey, FAST Programme Lead, on anarey@westminster.gov.uk or 020 7641 6265.

    Parents wanting to see FAST run at your child's school, speak to your child’s teacher about FAST, asking them to get in touch.

    FAST was developed in 1988 by Dr Lynn McDonald, Professor of Social Work at Middlesex University, London.

    4. Healthy Relationships: Healthy Baby Programme

    The Healthy Relationships: Healthy Baby Programme (HRHB) is an infant mental health and domestic abuse pilot programme.

    The aim is to provide earlier intervention to families to break cycles of domestic abuse and stop unhealthy attachments developing, giving babies the best start.

    HRHB supports the whole family from pregnancy (28 weeks or less) until the child is 2-years-old, and supports the mother and father, regardless of if they remain in the relationship.

    Safety is our main priority so, to manage the risks around domestic abuse, fathers work with a men’s practitioner and women work with a women’s practitioner to support families to focus on the needs of their unborn baby and any other children aged 3 or under.

    Programme criteria

    HRHB’s focus is on earlier years. The pilot is also being research evaluated. For these reasons, HRHB is for families where:

    • they are pregnant, 28 weeks or less
    • they live in Westminster
    • both parents want to share parenting as co-parents, even if they don’t live together or stay together as a couple
    • co-parents won't be excluded if there is bidirectional abuse, however, the father has to be the primary abuser

    How to refer

    If you are working with any families that meet these criteria, please contact us or encourage the service user to contact us on welcome@hrhb.org.uk or 07702 538 100.

    If you have any questions or would like to know more about HRHB, contact Team Manager, Rebecca Vagi on rvagi@westminster.gov.uk or 07702 538 091.

    5. Mellow Bumps

    Stress, anxiety and depression in pregnancy can have bad, long-term effects on a child. A mother’s general and mental health during pregnancy is a prime indicator of the wellbeing of their baby. 

    This 6-week programme helps mothers relax by focusing on what the baby can already do and how to make him or her welcome.

    Pregnancy can be hard for mothers who haven't had a good childhood, are under stress or experiencing health problems. Meeting other mums and sharing ideas offers support and opportunities to address issues in the mother’s life as well as preparing for her baby.

    Groups are:

    •  small and held in a non-threatening environment
    • designed to help mothers feel welcome and respected
    • based on the Mellow Parenting principles
    • targeted to families with additional needs and 
    • for mothers between 20 and 30 weeks gestation (when the pregnancy is likely to be secure and mothers are likely to have felt foetal movements but before mothers become preoccupied by the impending delivery and pain relief)

    Run by experienced practitioners, the structured programme introduces mothers to baby brain development and the social capacities of babies from birth. Mothers will also identify their own needs and how to get support in pregnancy and after the birth.

    Users include families with intensive levels of need, including addiction issues, previous child protection concerns, teenage parents and mental health concerns including the effects of trauma, domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

    Engagement has been good with even very troubled mothers finding confidence and support in the Mellow Bumps group.

    6. Mellow Parenting

    Mellow Parenting is a 13-week programme which supports families facing relationship problems with children aged 5 or younger.

    Meeting once a week, the programme combines personal support on parenting problems through videos and direct work with families.

    The programme consists of:

    • an emphasis on parental engagement and empowerment
    • separate groups for parents and children
    • shared lunch time for children, parents and staff
    • lap games and songs to promote mutual enjoyment
    • individual analysis of video tape showing family mealtime
    • activities and outings to practice and build up new skills
    • structured parenting workshops
    • homework practice to reinforce new skills
    • built-in objective and subjective measures of change

    7. Parents as Partners

    Parents as Partners in collaboration with the Tavistock Centre for Couple relationships (TCCR) is a 16-week programme for parents looking to improve their relationship to benefit their children. 

    Information for referrers

    8. Strengthening families, strengthening communities programme

    The Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) programme is a 13-week programme for parents with children aged 3 to 18-years-old. Sessions are 3-hours long, once a week.

    The course empowers parents and carers, helping them to forge positive relationships with their children and others.

    You'll learn strategies and develop tools to:

    • build close and warm relationships with your children
    • foster self-esteem in your children
    • deal confidently with risky situations
    • avoid the dangers of inconsistent parenting
    • manage anger

    The group shares their experiences and work together to find solutions with the support of the facilitators.

    Information is provided for further support after the course has finished, and they will also be connected to community resources to further reduce the risk of isolation.

    SFSC also provides a cultural framework to validate the historical and family experiences of different ethnic groups.

    Prevent Parenting Programme

    Find out about the Prevent Parenting Programme.

    9. Triple P parenting programme

    The Positive Parenting Programme has been proven to enhance parents’ abilities when managing their children’s behaviour. It does this by promoting understanding of children’s development and gives tools and strategies on increasing respectful behaviour and how to manage misbehaviour.

    Triple P is a multi-level intervention programme and parents can be invited to attend a series of seminars (3 90-minute workshops), refer for group sessions or individual one-on-one interventions.

    Triple P courses help you to:

    • encourage your child’s development
    • manage your children’s behaviour in a useful and caring way
    • recognise causes of common behaviour problems
    • encourage desirable behaviour in your children
    • increase your self confidence.

    Once you’ve completed a Triple P course, it should be easier to:

    • build positive relationships with your child
    • set rules and give instructions your children will follow
    • build upon your skills and techniques for dealing with difficult behaviour
    • praise and encourage behaviour you like.

    All Triple P course aim to build positive relationships between parents and their children. 

    Triple P 2 to 12

    An 8-week programme (including group and phone or drop-in sessions) offered to parents with children aged 2 to 12 years old who live in Westminster or attend a school in Westminster.

    Triple P teen

    An 8-week programme (including group and phone or drop-in sessions) which helps parents develop different ways of coping and strategies for dealing with a variety of adolescent problems within a supportive group atmosphere.

    Triple P group stepping stones

    A 9-week programme (including group and phone or drop-in sessions) for parents with children who are aged 2 to 12 years and who have disabilities.


    Last updated: 2 November 2017
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