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Keeping the whole system in view: join us to test a new relationship support pathway model

Can you name all the relationship support services and interventions that are available in your local system? EIF associate Sue Chapman and senior research officer Dr Virginia Ghiara introduce our new EIF relationship support pathway model – and we're looking for local areas to help us test it.

According to recent data from Tavistock Relationships, couples with children are almost twice as likely as childless couples to consider splitting up as a result of the pandemic, with 68% of separating and separated parents reporting that the pandemic has caused additional family difficulties. Parents and children need the right kind of support at the right time, which means they need local services to focus on providing a range of relationship support.

If local areas are going to offer effective relationship support, this is about more than commissioning some evidence-based programmes. It relies on understanding what families in different circumstances need and how they experience support. What are the first services that parents turn to when they're struggling with relationship conflict? What interventions are available to help them, and where are the gaps in support? How specific is support to their particular needs, for example if they are separated or still in a relationship, or from different community groups?

Families themselves often find it difficult to understand and access the local offer of support. In every local area there are various services and interventions that can help parents to build and maintain healthy relationships, but it is not always clear how they work together, who can access them, and which one is best for a specific family.

Information about services and family experiences can be used by local leaders and commissioners to design a relationship support pathway, which shows how services and interventions fit together to prevent and address parental conflict and the impact it has on children. This kind of pathway, like a map of local support, helps local stakeholders – including parents and practitioners – to understand what support is available and where improvements need to be made.

EIF is developing a relationship support pathway model to help local leaders and commissioners with this work. To test how this might work, we have published our beta version of the model. This is by no means a comprehensive support pathway, and includes only some of the available interventions. Local areas will need to adapt the pathway model to their local context and create their own, local version of the model.

Now we are reaching out to local areas to help us to test and refine the pathway model. If you think it is something that would be useful for your local planning, or if you have done something similar which we can learn from, please do get in touch – we look forward to hearing from you.

About the author

Sue Chapman

Sue is a local development adviser at EIF.