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Case study

Leicester City: Using local evidence to drive integration and sustainability of the reducing parental conflict offer


24 May 2024

This case study tells the story of Leicester City’s reducing parental conflict (RPC) needs assessment process and the development of a support pathway which outlines the services and interventions available to families to support parental relationships. It considers how this information was used to integrate discussions about parental relationships into the planning for both the Supporting Families Programme and Family Hubs to ensure an ongoing focus on parental relationships.

This story is told by Esther Jones, supporting families coordinator; Adam Billson, consultant RPC coordinator; and Di Robertson, senior local development adviser at What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care.

Find out more about our series of case examples or submit your local area's story.

Our starting point

Leicester City was still in the early stages of developing a support offer for families around reducing parental conflict. Before the latest DWP grant round, there had been little capacity for sustainable planning and engagement with partners, which were seen as priorities to making progress. The Council wanted to better understand the nature and extent of parental relationship distress in Leicester City and to use this to improve the support available to families, creating an RPC support pathway. The decision was made to appoint an external consultant RPC coordinator due to recruitment difficulties and a desire to get started as soon as possible once the reducing parental conflict grant was awarded. Leicester City was closely involved with a similar regional project across the East Midlands and collaborated particularly closely with Leicestershire and Rutland due to having many shared providers.

Action taken and impact

The first step was to collect demographic and other data on risk factors for parental conflict in Leicester City. This was completed as part of the wider regional project (see the East Midlands case study). It provided useful insight into the challenges facing families in the city and provided focus for deciding on priority activities going forward. The data highlighted, for example, higher numbers than the average of teenage pregnancies and the need to better understand how this could impact relationship distress. It was a reminder of the substantial number of diverse communities living in the city and the challenge of meeting the needs of the 59.1% of people who are from minority ethnic groups.

A survey was then used to collect data on how services in Leicester City currently supported families experiencing relationship distress. Using EIF’s Support Pathway Model, this provided a detailed representation of interventions and support available across the spectrum of need, and identified where there were gaps in support for families. It enabled a more informed discussion with colleagues in the Council about how to prioritise resources and plan for the longer term. It was also a mechanism for engaging partners and establishing key relationships which had been lacking before.

“We adapted the Support Pathway template slightly to suit the way that services are organised in Leicester City. It was a useful way to see what relevant services are out there and what the potential touch points are for providing relationship support.”

— Adam Billson RPC coordinator

Leicester City appointed eight relationship leaders earlier this year: six hold team leader roles that are embedded in the existing cluster structure in the city; one has a role in Early Help assessment; and one in the Youth Services Team. They offer expertise and support as well as providing training and briefings on reducing parental conflict across their networks. A planning workshop took place with the relationship leaders to ensure that they had a good understanding of the project outputs and to engage them in contributing to the next steps. This project has provided them with a more indepth understanding of relationship support needs and an additional resource to take out to teams.

“Getting feedback from our relationship leaders means a lot. They are excited to be involved and think it’s important. They are passionate and energetic and want to take the work forward. The project has helped us to see how important it is that these are outward facing roles.”

— Esther Jones, supporting families coordinator – lead for reducing parental conflict

Learning from the project

Carrying out this work at this time enabled Leicester City’s RPC project team to use the further two years of funding to focus on how they could embed sustainable approaches. The project supported careful thinking about joining up relationship support and other programmes such as Supporting Families and Family Hubs, which was a significant step forward.

Collaborating with Leicestershire and Rutland, and with the wider East Midlands regional work, was a key element of the project. These relationships continue, go from strength-to-strength, and will support the work required to communicate with and engage wider stakeholders in future.

Leicester City planned to deliver a multi-agency workshop to launch the needs assessment but partners found it difficult to engage fully due to competing priorities, and the workshop was postponed. Although this was disappointing, stakeholder mapping was completed which provides a useful starting point.

Collecting, sharing and analysing data was interesting and a source of discussion that would not have taken place otherwise.

“It raised questions about the different communities that live in Leicester and it made us keen to dig deeper and understand more.”

— Adam Billson, RPC coordinator

This piece of work was closely linked to the development of Family Hubs in Leicester City, and the data collected contributed to the Family Hubs needs assessment. Integrating conversations about parental relationships into the planning for both Supporting Families and Family Hubs made sense to colleagues in the Council. It made it easier to see how the different pieces of the services jigsaw fit together.

A key piece of learning was around the importance of looking for interesting ways to communicate with different stakeholders, and we used both the needs assessment and support pathway summary to do this.

“This project has given us a stronger sense of direction and purpose and enabled us to focus on data and how to use it to inform priorities. The right people have been involved and we have focussed on what was achievable and manageable. Realistic hopefulness and persistence is a big part of this work.”

— Adam Billson, RPC coordinator

Next steps

Leicester City is committed to understanding the needs of its diverse communities, raising the profile of relationship support for parents, and understanding what difference this support can make to children. Leicester City will be contributing to an East Midlands evaluation which will provide an opportunity to hear directly from practitioners and parents about what is making a difference.

The Leicester City Reducing Parental Conflict Steering Group will prioritise activity which supports the integration of relationship support into all work with families. This will include raising awareness among key partners about this work on needs assessment and the support pathway, and further developing communication to support ongoing engagement.

Leicester City will look for opportunities for learning from the lived experience of children and parents. This will inform the ongoing plans for reducing parental conflict, contribute to the self-assessment process, and support and motivate practitioners and partners.

About the author

Di Robertson

Di is a senior local development adviser at EIF.