Category: Events

For Baby’s Sake wins major national safeguarding award

We are delighted to share the news that, on 24 November 2022, For Baby’s Sake and our partnership with Blackpool Better Start won the Safeguarding Award at the prestigious Children and Young People Now awards.

This award is for the initiative nationally that is making the biggest contribution to keeping children and young people safe from harm.  Judges looked for exceptional teamwork and multi-agency working.  They highlighted the whole-family outcomes achieved through For Baby’s Sake and our partnership with Blackpool Better Start.  The judges praised how For Baby’s Sake Practitioners work therapeutically with both parents, starting in pregnancy, to empower parents to break the cycle of domestic abuse, develop skills for resilience and give their baby the best start in life, especially when they did not have that themselves.

Thank you to Blackpool Better Start for nominating the Blackpool For Baby’s Sake Team, in recognition of the impact of For Baby’s Sake on the families participating in the programme and on wider professional practice and systems, including for engaging fathers and improving support and outcomes for care-experienced families.

It was perfect timing to win the award on the eve of global 16 Days of Activism against domestic and gender-based violence and celebrate the For Baby’s Sake model of whole-family safeguarding and breaking intergenerational cycles of domestic abuse. 

This award comes less than a year after the Centre for Justice Innovation awarded For Baby’s Sake the Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice, with judges praising our innovative whole-family model.

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Blackpool Better Start and Blackpool For Baby’s Sake empower parents to drive system change for parents and babies born into care

The annual Blackpool Better Start conference on 13 October 2022 featured a powerful workshop on Blackpool’s contribution and response to the ‘Born into Care’ initiative to drive system change for parents and babies when the state intervenes to remove babies at birth.

Blackpool has had one of the highest rates in the country of babies being removed from their parents’ care at birth, owing to safeguarding concerns. In 2017 one child in every 46 births was born into care, compared with, say, the London borough of Richmond on Thames, where the figure was one child in 813 births.

This statistic, alongside the strong commitment in Blackpool, delivered through the Better Start Partnership, to transform the life chances of babies and empower parents and families, led Blackpool to play a leading role in a ‘Born Into Care’ initiative.

Nationally, ‘Born into Care’, a collaborative project led by Lancaster University, The Rees Centre at Oxford University and the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has been understanding the scale and impact of babies being born into care, from the perspectives of parents as well as professionals, with the conclusion that national guidance is required to introduce more sensitive and humane practice when the state intervenes at birth.  The complexities and sensitivities led the researchers to produce draft guidelines to be piloted with partner research sites in England and Wales.

Blackpool is one of the partner sites which contributed to the research and has been playing a leading role, through an innovative co-production approach, in responding to the draft guidance.

Two co-production groups were established in Blackpool – one for mothers and one for fathers – and each also involving professionals such as midwives, social workers and specialist service providers.  The Blackpool For Baby’s Sake team were involved in both and were instrumental in particular to the success of the fathers’ co-production group, with most of the fathers in the group also being fathers who were participating in For Baby’s Sake.

All those involved were acutely aware of the sensitivities of bringing together parents with lived experience of their babies having been removed at birth and professionals such as social workers who represented those who had made the decisions about their baby’s removal.

Creative and trauma-informed approaches were used to build trust and understanding between the parents and professionals, to establish the principle that everyone around the table was equal and to demonstrate that success hinged on everyone feeling heard and valued.  Before getting round the table, more informal social events were organised to build those relationships, even including a trip for the fathers and professionals in the fathers’ group to a local boxing club.

The story of this extraordinary co-production is best told by the parents and professionals who took part and they have made a film, Born into Care – Blackpool, which you can watch here

As one of the For Baby’s Sake Practitioners says in the film: ‘lived experience is one of the best resources you’ll ever get.’

The film identifies principles, based on learning constructively from the past and what needed to change and also based on best practice from services currently operating in Blackpool, including For Baby’s Sake. 

The contributions from the For Baby’s Sake Blackpool team and parents who are engaging with For Baby’s Sakehighlight the importance of being trauma-informed and strengths-based. For Baby’s Sake is especially designed to meet the needs of parents with unresolved past trauma.  When that unresolved trauma arises from the parents having been taken into care, or having had a baby previously removed, this can be especially triggering when those parents become parents again and prepare for the birth of their baby.

One mother reflects on her relationship with her For Baby’s Sake Practitioner:  ‘she supported me and listened and was there from the get-go for who I was at that time and not who I used to be’.

Being trauma-informed is at the heart of Blackpool Better Start and this shared commitment is at the core of the strong partnership between The For Baby’s Sake Trust and our Blackpool Better Start partners. The essential requirement to be authentically trauma-informed is a key recommendation from Blackpool to all those with a role to play, locally and nationally, in implementing the guidance and driving system change to avoid and reduce the incidence and impact of babies being born into care.

As one of the For Baby’s Sake Practitioners says in the film

‘You can say you are a trauma-informed service but unless you offer a really authentic response to that trauma and you understand that underpinning all of the challenges, all of the difficult behaviours and the risks that you are concerned about, unless you understand that trauma is at the root of that, you aren’t going to get very far’.

The film is full of practical recommendations to support parents, starting in pregnancy, when they have previously had babies removed or are on a journey to their baby certainly or possibly being removed at birth. These include planning ahead, providing clarity, being inclusive to fathers and understanding and responding to the feelings of parents.  As a member of the For Baby’s Sake Blackpool team says, ‘the answers have come from the lived experiences of the parent….we have to listen to their voice’.

To watch the Born into Care – Blackpool film, click here

To watch the workshop at the Blackpool Better Start conference, including the film plus presentations from Claire Mason, Research Fellow at Lancaster University and Pauline Wigglesworth, Co-produced Research and Transformation Lead at Blackpool Council, click here

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Webinar recording, 17 Sept 2020. There is another way – breaking the cycle of domestic abuse

We are delighted to share a recording of our webinar held on 17 September 2020, when over 400 delegates joined us for the premiere of our animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby.

In this powerful film, parents tell their stories, in their own voices, of what led them into the For Baby’s Sake programme and the life-changing difference it has made to them and their baby.

The event included a discussion on new approaches to breaking the cycle of trauma and domestic abuse in families and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life.

You can watch the webinar here. Lasting just 60 minutes, you will hear from:

· Stelio Stefanou, Chairman, The For Baby’s Sake Trust

· Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner

· Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and our first For Baby’s Sake ambassador

· Dr Jill Domoney, Research Clinical Psychologist, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London

· Emma Lazenby, Director of the For Baby’s Sake film

· Amanda McIntyre, CEO, The For Baby’s Sake Trust

All speakers highlighted the lessons from the For Baby’s Sake programme and the value of working with the whole family, and doing so during the precious time when babies are developing, in order to break cycles of domestic abuse and childhood trauma.

In her speech, Amanda McIntyre said that The For Baby’s Sake Trust is calling for the recent amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill currently in Parliament, which recognises children as victims in their own right, to be amended further so it is explicit in covering babies, including those still in the womb. Otherwise, those babies risk being overlooked, despite domestic abuse being particularly harmful to them and often starting in pregnancy.

She also said that the For Baby’s Sake Trust is keen to play a growing role in turning the tide on domestic abuse, through the expansion of its services, including by launching For Baby’s Sake CONNECT, which will provide remote access to the ground-breaking For Baby’s Sakeprogramme to families across the UK who do not yet have the benefit of a local dedicated team in their area.

Please share our video with anyone you feel would be interested. You can find us on Twitter @forbabyssake

To view our press release click here

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The For Baby’s Sake Trust urges a shake-up of how we tackle domestic violence

The For Baby’s Sake Trust (formerly the Stefanou Foundation) is calling on government, local authorities and charities to look at what new approaches can be taken to break the cycle of domestic abuse, such as the whole-family approach of the pioneering For Baby’s Sake programme which seeks to address the trauma that often sits at the heart of the issue.

As a significant signal of radical change, the Trust wants to see the recent amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill currently in Parliament, which recognises children as victims in their own right, to be amended further so it is explicit in covering babies, including those still in the womb. Otherwise, those babies risk being overlooked, despite domestic abuse being particularly harmful to them and often starting in pregnancy.

The call comes as the Trust launches a powerful new animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby, featuring the raw testimony of a mother and father who are on the For Baby’s Sake programme, which works with the whole family to deal with the trauma and complex needs that are so often unaddressed for the parents, breaking the cycle and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life.

The For Baby’s Sake programme has been running since 2015 and an evaluation of the first four years, led by King’s College London and published in May 2020, identified it as the first programme of its kind to ‘fill an important gap in provision’ through its ‘unique approach’, working with the whole family and starting in pregnancy, when babies need protection and parents are motivated to change.

Stelio Stefanou, Chairman of The For Baby’s Sake Trust, said:

“Trauma in infancy devastates lives and it can start even before a child is born. Left unresolved, it can lead to dysfunctional relationships, domestic abuse and more harm to children and families for generations. It affects the whole family – baby, mother and father. The current prevailing approach to domestic abuse is too narrow, practitioners are effectively being asked to tackle it with one hand tied behind their backs.

“There is another way. The For Baby’s Sake programme empowers expectant parents with what they need to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their baby the best possible start in life, especially by helping them to come to terms with trauma and adversity in their own childhoods. Adopting approaches like this would reduce the burden on our stretched public services, supporting them to really tackle the issue rather than being left to pick up the pieces.

“We have a huge opportunity with the Domestic Abuse Bill going through Parliament at the moment. We have to use this as a chance to challenge the national ambition and move our system from one that primarily manages the fall-out of domestic abuse to truly targeting the trauma that is at the root cause. The alarming rise in domestic abuse during lockdown has made this even more urgent.”

The For Baby’s Sake programme adopts a unique three-way approach, with a specialist working with the father, another working closely with the mother, and both focusing on the overall wellbeing and development of the baby and any other children, starting before the baby is born. As a result, it deals with the entire cycle and history of domestic violence and abuse, identifying and directly addressing the trauma or traumas that lie at the heart of the problem. The end result is both parents play a positive role in raising their child, whether together or apart, turning one, two, three or even more lives around, and breaking the cycle caused by trauma in childhood.

The film was launched at a virtual event on 17 September, supported by a discussion on new approaches to tackling domestic violence, with speakers including Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and the newly appointed first ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme.

Speaking about the need for new approaches, Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, said:

“With so much concern for those subject to domestic abuse during lockdown, plus the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through parliament, we have a once in a generation opportunity to explore and take forward new ways of dealing with this pernicious issue. We owe it to all those affected by domestic abuse to challenge our current thinking and approaches, which is why it so important that we evaluate and learn from programmes like For Baby’s Sake.”

Frank Mullane, Founder and CEO of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and an ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme, said: 

“I am proud to be the first ambassador for the For Baby’s Sake programme which is doing something now about the life chances of babies. It recognises that to give the baby the best chance in life, we have to work with today’s reality. It is a courageous, evidence-based project, breaking the cycle of domestic abuse and it is informed by values that surely most of us share.”

Later this year, the Trust is planning to launch For Baby’s Sake CONNECT, providing remote access to its ground-breaking programme and giving more families the chance to benefit from its pioneering approach to tackling domestic violence.

The programme currently operates in Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and west London (Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham).

For Baby’s Sake CONNECT was developed during lockdown, when parents across these four sites kept up their one-to-one sessions with practitioners by phone and video technology, some actually found it easier to work through painful issues in this way and new families continued to join.

Using technology makes it possible to deliver the programme to families located anywhere in the UK, working directly with mothers and fathers and contributing effectively to local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements wherever the parents live. The charity is intending to roll out For Baby’s Sake CONNECT this autumn, using existing resources to engage a small number of families initially, while building on experience and raising additional sources of funding to build capacity. The addition of For Baby’s Sake CONNECT service will reach families that do not yet have the benefit of a dedicated local team and scale up the For Baby’s Sake programme across the UK more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.

Media enquiries:

Peter Gilheany, Forster Communications peter@forster.co.uk, 07798 881180

Molly Downes, Forster Communications molly@forster.co.uk

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For Baby’s Sake – Join us for our film premiere and discussion, 17 September 2020

On the 17 September we will be hosting a screening of our powerful new animated film from BAFTA award-winning director, Emma Lazenby, showcasing the ground-breaking For Baby’s Sake programme. This animation follows one families journey in their own words.

The animation will be followed by a discussion on new approaches to breaking the cycle of trauma and domestic abuse in families and giving babies born into dysfunctional and abusive relationships a much more positive start in life. It will include contributions from Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Frank Mullane, CEO of Advocacy After Domestic Abuse (AAFDA) and Emma Lazenby who collaborated with us closely during the making of this film.

To join us please register on the Eventbrite link below-

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/there-is-another-way-breaking-the-cycle-of-domestic-abuse-tickets-116712427011

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Academic evaluation says ‘unique’ For Baby’s Sake ‘fills an important gap in provision’

For Baby’s Sake, the innovative whole-family programme created by the Stefanou Foundation to tackle the cycle of domestic abuse, is described in a report published on 28 May 2020 as the first of its kind to fill an important gap in provision. The in-depth, independent evaluation of For Baby’s Sake, led by King’s College London, was the result of a four-year study and highlights how the programme’s unique approach, working with the whole family, is overcoming key limitations to responding to domestic abuse.

Professor Louise Howard of King’s College London, who led the evaluation team, said, ‘For Baby’s Sake was developed using the evidence base on domestic abuse, pregnancy, trauma, and infant and perinatal mental health.  The For Baby’s Sake team have worked with local government, especially children’s social care, and engaged parents with multiple complex needs and histories of childhood trauma.  Most of the people we interviewed for the evaluation, who remained in For Baby’s Sake over time, were able to identify specific ways that they had changed their behaviour, and related these to aspects of the programme.’

Stelio Stefanou, Chairman of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘We’re pleased that the evaluation led by King’s College London has confirmed what we already knew from experience; that For Baby’s Sake is ground-breaking and parents are using it to make changes for themselves and their babies. New legislation going through Parliament proves there is a desire to transform how the UK addresses domestic abuse whilst, sadly, the recent lockdown restrictions have created an urgency for achieving it.’

Amanda McIntyre, Director of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘‘Cambridgeshire and Blackpool have already opened For Baby’s Sake sites, building on the experience of the programme in Hertfordshire and London. The evaluation findings, along with the way parents are continuing to reach out to For Baby’s Sake during COVID-19, have made us even more keen to work with partners to expand further, to reach more babies and families to break the cycle of domestic abuse.’

We are very grateful to the co-designers, Roxane Agnew-Davies, Mark Coulter and Christine Puckering who we commissioned to work closely with us on the design of For Baby’s Sake.

We are also grateful to so many partners and stakeholders for their teamwork and support to reach this point.  Some of them have kindly provided quotes to mark the publication of the evaluation.  

To read their reflections, to download the joint summary of the evaluation and register to read the full report click here

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#ReachOut during COVID-19: For Baby’s Sake Practitioner supports dad to understand his newborn

We’re launching a new series of #ReachOut blog posts during COVID-19 on how For Baby’s Sake continues to support families and partner agencies. We’re proud of our practitioners who are making creative use of technology to continue delivering vital front-line work.

Here is our first brief story, from a For Baby’s Sake Practitioner who writes: ‘I was privileged today to video call and speak with a father and his new baby was present in the room. He described his baby as robust and different from his other children. I informed him of my recent Newborn Behavioural Observation (NBO) training and helped him to further observe and recognise that his baby was in deep sleep state and had been protecting his sleep throughout the session. He found it fascinating and stated that he thought all babies were the same!’  

For Baby’s Sake has been supporting this family since pregnancy.  Working separately with mother and father, there is a big emphasis in our antenatal work on supporting parents to increase their own emotional safety and reduce stress for their baby.  It was encouraging to see the father in this family recognising his newborn baby’s ability and being wonderfully curious about it.   

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