Published On: 20 February 2024Tags: , ,
Chantel Antoine, is a Programme Officer at the Race Equality Foundation, working with parents of older children who are at risk of becoming involved in violence and crime. Her parenting programme aims to improve family relationships, boost parenting skills and competence, and support children to avoid risky behaviours.

I run a 13-week anti-violence Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities (SFSC) programme that supports parents whose children have witnessed or been involved in serious crimes. Funded by the Youth Endowment Fund, the goal is to help rebuild and sustain parent-child relationships, which are often damaged when people engage in gangs and violence.  

By working with Youth Offending Teams in three London boroughs, I can access families in greatest need – where children may already be offenders or at risk. In my groups, parents share similar struggles. This reduces judgement and increases mutual understanding within the group. SFSC provides meals, childcare, travel cost assistance and thank you vouchers to facilitate attendance.  

Sessions do not include young people, but we gather data on impacts to their home behaviour. Drawing from my therapy training, I have seen first-hand the trauma families experience amidst youth violence, whether as perpetrators or victims. Early intervention is best, so I incorporate learnings on child development, cultural values and the false glamour of “gangster” life into community building efforts.

Despite enthusiasm and working with Youth Offending Teams, parent recruitment poses challenges. Work schedules conflict, existing involvement of other services causes overload, institutional distrust, and a parent’s belief that their child alone needs support, have limited engagement. However, recruitment is ongoing, and our current attending parents report positive changes at home and effective strategies learned.

As sessions continue, recruitment and flexibility around complex circumstances remain key. I will also continue to follow up with youth participants on parental relationship impacts. My co-facilitators are doing tremendous work toward our shared goal of strengthening families to provide stability and prevent violence.

Running these groups is so rewarding. To see openness and growth in vulnerable parents committed to ending cycles of violence inspires hope. By rebuilding relationships with their children, they model positive change from within to create safer, more supportive communities. There is still much work to do, but equipping willing parents through programmes like SFSC is a powerful start.