Why we need a Healthy Relationships Week
As Covid-19 continues to create and increase pressures on families, Ben Lewing outlines the reasons why we've created Healthy Relationships Week.
There is a daily barrage of headlines about the effect of the pandemic on family relationships, mental health and intimate partner violence. Three-quarters of local authorities that we surveyed over the summer felt that parental conflict was increasing. The strain on families is evident.
But there is more to this story than a series of negative headlines. Every local authority area in England has been part of a national programme over the past 18 months focused on reducing parental conflict and reducing the negative impact on children. The programme has struck a chord with local leaders, practitioners and families, and now feels more like a movement which is owned by local areas.
This momentum underpins how local areas are responding on a daily basis to support families in stress and relationship conflict. They are rising to the challenge by reaching out to families in new and innovative ways using social media and new helplines; they are adapting support to work online, while sustaining face-to-face relationships with those for whom virtual interactions are just not enough; they are collaborating in new ways across organisations, services and teams to adapt the local support offer and share issues and risks.
This is the new world of public service innovation which we will shine a light on in Healthy Relationships Week. It’s an opportunity to share ideas about practical solutions and celebrate where we are getting things right, despite the pandemic challenges. We will also hear about local practice on embedding a focus on healthy relationships in everyday support for families, and approaches to supporting separated and separating parents and their children. The week combines some planned online events, blogs and publications from EIF and our friends in the Relationships Alliance, along with local action and ideas from up and down the country which you can track on Twitter using the hashtag #healthyrelationshipsweek.
So, why do we need a Healthy Relationships Week? We can’t take this nascent movement for granted – it needs to be nurtured and developed, which means sharing learning and celebrating progress. There’s more work ahead on addressing conflict between parents and reducing how this affects children. Healthy Relationships Week can give us some new, more hopeful headlines and show us the path forward into 2021.