Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities


A programme designed to strengthen families

Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is a parenting programme designed to support you to raise happy and successful children by getting access to information and strategies for bringing up your children, meeting other parents, and making sure your voice is heard.

Watch our video on the programme

Access to SFSC is available as a 13 week face to programme, which is delivered in a group setting. The SFSC programme is also accredited through the Open College Network. This means that you can gain credits for taking part in the programme, which you can use when you apply for a job or if you want to go back into education.

  • Is this right for me?

    SFSC is for all parents. The programme is run in all communities with parents from lots of different backgrounds, including:

    • Mums and dads, grandparents, foster carers, and teen parents
    • Parents from different ethnic minority communities and faith backgrounds
    • Parents who speak different languages
    • Parents with disabilities or learning difficulties
    • Individuals with very different qualifications and jobs
    • People like you!
  • Who will be there?

    SFSC is a group-based programme, and you will usually take part alongside 8-12 other parents. The programme will run by two ‘facilitators’, who have undergone extensive training to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the programme.

  • How long is the course?

    It lasts for 13 weeks and each week you will attend a 3 hour session. Many groups will also provide refreshments, childcare and transport to make it easier to attend- there is no charge for these.

  • What do I have to do?

    Get involved! Although the facilitators will give information and techniques to help you, SFSC works best when everyone takes part fully.
    The programme will help you to think about your own experiences, and about how your culture and family background have shaped your parenting style.
    Each week you will also be given activities to do at home. Previous attendees have found that if they do these, they get more out of the programme.

  • What will SFSC give me?

    SFSC will help you to answer these important parenting questions:

    • How can I motivate my child to try their best at school?
    • How do I build a better relationship with my child?
    • How do I stop my teenager getting involved in drinking, drugs, antisocial behaviour or truanting?
    • How do I encourage my partner to participate in my child’s life?
    • How do I put boundaries in place with my child?
    • What youth and parent services are available in my community?

    The programme will provide:

    • A safe space to share your views and be listened to
    • An opportunity to get information and ideas to help with decisions about bringing up your children
    • New skills, and support in developing your confidence
      connections with the wider communities and services in your area.

The classes were excellent. The facilitators ensured that everyone was included. They listened to, respected and valued each person. The sessions were always varied, well-paced and interesting. I would recommend this class for every parent.

Parent / on SFSC course


of parents rate facilitators skills and knowledge


of parents feel good about their relationship with their child after completing the course


of parents recommend the programme to others

Sign up for a programme

If you live in London Boroughs of Brent, Camden, Islington, Westminster and Waltham Forest, you can sign up for a programme by filling out   our SFSC referral form

Interested and would like to know more?

If you do not live in the areas mentioned and would like to express your interest so we can help you locate a programme near you…
Register your interest

Still unsure this is right for you? Let’s talk

  • Before the programme I was under the impression that all that could be done had been done, and that there was nowhere else to turn. But from the guests on the programme and the handouts that were given out I know that there are other services that I can access, like the Family Information Service.

    Parent of child with ASD after SFSC programme
  • I attended a Drug and Alcohol Education conference last week where there
    was a  discussion about recent research into 'what works'.   Strengthening
    Families scored high for successfully changing lives. I can totally understand

    Sexual Health and Relationships NurseLondon Borough of Lambeth
  • I have been accessing the support of the REF since 2007 when I started working on running SFSC programmes. The REF are very helpful, efficient and the staff are great. It’s great to know you can always ring on the helpline number for support. They have worked hard on the support package they offer in the last couple of years and it’s good to know someone will always get back to you if not be able to answer your question immediately. One of the best things about the REF is their vision for the future, commitment to research as well as their drive to support facilitators to use and share best practice. As a facilitator and project worker/Coordinator I feel really supported

    Rachel HornsbySFSC Project Worker, Bath and North East Somerset Council, speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
  • We have been impressed by your commitment to this project and that you have delivered that which was required within the tight timescales. You rose to every challenge that was encountered and we are therefore grateful to you for the dedication that was shown

    Bekah LittleHead of Programme at the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
  • As a Policy Officer for the African Health Policy Network, I find the Better Health Briefing Papers of great use. They are brief, coherent, logically argued and well-referenced. The range of topics covered by experts in the field are both interesting and contemporary. The policy implications and ways to move forward on the topics in question are made explicit. There is also a real sense that the authors truly understand the issues affecting ethnic minorities in relation to health inequalities in the UK.

    Abdus ShumanPolicy and Public Affairs Officer, African Health Policy Network, speaking about the Better Health briefings
  • We only worked with you for a short time, but the impact has been more than we expected, and the Race Equality Foundation's support has been very much appreciated. We really hope we keep the good partnership going and achieve more together. We will ensure that we keep in touch, you know where we are and you are welcome anytime to Liverpool!

    Joint organiser of Liverpool Forced Marriage conference
  • Greatly appreciated the level of critical information and strategic discussion linked directly to practical and direct advice and information about action possible.

    Delegate from Exeter JSNA training
  • I know I have a really quick temper but I like it here and I am relaxed because it’s interesting and not like school

    Young Parent in Waltham Forest
  • I just wanted to thank you and all your colleagues at the Race Equality Foundation for organizing the After the Riots conference on Saturday.
    It was indeed a great event, inspiring and uplifting. I feel that it was a very creative event offering much to think about. So much care had clearly gone into organizing everything from the selection of the panels to the mix of those who attended, to the excellent catering for us all.
    I am sure you must have all been heartened by the energy and dynamism of the afternoon.

    Meena SharinDelegate at the After the Riots conference
  • From an equality of access point of view, a very useful set of resource tool kits to help and empower practitioners at all levels gain access to vital information about the health & housing needs of black minority and ethnic communities. We found these briefing papers to have been of particular interest to our Diversity Ambassador Programme, a network of 75 organisations (made up of both voluntary and charities across all equality strands) who advocate and lobby on behalf of their respective minority communities

    Yasir MirzaHead of Diversity at Guardian News & Media, speaking about the Better Health and Better Housing project
  • I found the conference really interesting and well-organised. It was particularly interesting to note the often contradictory narratives in terms of causes. Certain parts of the media seem to want to paint the riots as "race riots" (whereas, apart from the initial trigger event in Tottenham, this doesn't seem to have been the case), whilst at the same time playing down any class/poverty aspects (e.g. the constant reference in certain papers to a "millionaire's daughter" being arrested for looting). I thought it was good to hear the differences between rioting and looting being so clearly spelled out - now that's something I haven't seen in the Daily Mail!

    Adrian JonesDelegate at After the Riots
  • SFSC is more than a parenting programme. It really made me think about the values and beliefs that exist within my family and what I want to pass on to my children. I'd recommend it to any parent.

    Parent speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
  • It was a rare opportunity for me to meet in one place commissioning professionals, procurement representatives and small businesses specialising in providing interpreting and translation services across England. It was apparent that commissioners did not fully understand the procurement role and procurement looked puzzled by the commissioners' approach to the market place. Furthermore, it was obvious small interpretation and translation services providers were dissatisfied with the many obstacles to access public contracts

    Renata TowlsonSpeaking about the In your own words event
  • I thought that the training you offered was outstanding, the best I have had in many years, both in content and delivery. I cannot wait to get started – which is good really as the group begins this week!

    Project Manager, Coram Family
  • Just a short note to thank you both so much for attending and contributing to the conference last week. It was deemed a great success, and your contributions were a key part of that. The evaluations were excellent, and there was mention of both of you as being a very important part of the event. I hope we can work together again before too long. Thanks a million for your help and support.

    John ColemanUniversity of Oxford
  • I was referred by my daughter’s social worker because there were some areas I was
    lacking behind in my parenting; my social worker was worried about my daughter. Since
    I started on the course I’ve been gaining loads about how to promote my child’s social
    and emotional development. And it’s really helped me so much. I’m very very
    thankful for these people and our teachers for the support and encouragement through
    these sessions. And I say a very big thank you to everyone.

    Dad from LB Lambeth
  • I’ve enjoyed coming to this course and always look forward for Monday as new and improved parent techniques were taught. It helped me to calm and control my temper and anger and deal with  stressful situations that sometimes I have to tackle with my child. I’ve liked when parents open up with their family situations and it made me realise that I'm not on my own and I even learned from other parents and prepared me for other situation my child might get to especially when hitting the teenage period. I would recommend this course to every parent and I wish it would be mandatory as it's a good way to learning our day to day basis with our kids. The coordinators were amazing, always listened to our drama and never judged and provide us with nice food and clean environment. Thanks

    Mum from Southwark
  • I thought it was a very good event. Quite thought-provoking stuff from all the speakers. The discussion sessions were also very useful and raised awareness of various key issues relating to housing and its links with health/well-being.The food was excellent too!

    Delegate from Health and Housing Roundtable event
  • Thank you so much for the four week parenting course- it seriously works!! If I have another baby, can I repeat the course?

    It really has helped, I have really noticed a difference in our family. Even when problems arise I feel better equipped; I can access my tool box of information to deal with it: I feel calm, and in control and, best of all, confident that I do know what to do. The best thing is knowing that for every behaviour there is a reason; I can rationalise [my daughter's] behaviour. I really feel empowered and able to deal with behaviours that arise- even in only four weeks! (which is how long it takes to change a behaviour- it's true!) The course was so straightforward, uncomplicated and realistic. The advice given is easy to transfer to the home environment- which is all down to both of you being so friendly and approachable.

    This will make you laugh: you have become my driving instructor! I was never a very confident learner driver, but having had a good instructor I felt confident driving, even now I can hear him occasionally in my head when I drive. I know that sounds odd! That's kind of how it is now, when a problem arises with [my daughter] I can refer to you talking us through situations and it helps- thank you!

    CANparent delegate
  • I have been meaning to write to thank all at REF for so kindly welcoming our students to the excellent conference and for the opportunity for them and me to gain so much. They were thrilled to be able to carry out so many interviews, listen to and be inspired and challenged by the speakers and engage so fully in the event. It was hugely appreciated by all of us and congratulations on such a wide-ranging and thought provoking event. They also gave the refreshments 20 out of 10!
    With my deepest thanks and best wishes to all. I am especially grateful for the ease with which you all facilitated our involvement and were so supportive to us.

    Martin SpaffordDelegate at After the Riots
  • The programme gave me a lot of confidence in what I was doing already. I was doing a good job – I just needed to maybe do some things differently. The bits on behaviour, praise and positive discipline were really useful.

    #CANparent participant
  • I have circulated Claire’s briefing paper widely and feedback I have had from colleagues is that it is extremely readable and useful…. Our new report on how Carers Centres and Crossroads Care schemes work with carers from BME and seldom heard communities refers to the briefing and Claire was involved as a member of the advisory group. It was great to be able to work together and have the benefit of her knowledge, and ultimately carers will benefit as people working with them will have a clearer understanding of the issues.

    Cath BakerPrincess Royal Trust for Carers, speaking about Better Health briefing paper 20
  • My daughter (aged 3) slept through the night and went to sleep for the first time in forever without tears. Thank you for your kindness and time.

    Mum in Waltham Forest
  • REF helped SPAN to introduce SFSC to the South West 6 years ago. They have helped us to train facilitators, set up programmes, deliver peer support, supervise facilitators, chase funding, monitor and evaluate, recruit and retain parents, provided a practitioners’ website, a telephone helpline and invited us to their fabulous annual SFSC conference. Our work in partnership with REF has helped us to establish a network of support for parents right across the South West. With REF's help we have turned parents’ lives around. We are getting the most amazing results with parents, children and schools providing evidence of major improvements in family communication, discipline, engagement in community activities, breaking isolation and parent' progression into further training, volunteering and plans for future employment.

    Annie OliverParenting Support Manager, SPAN, speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
  • Thank you very much for delivering such a provoking presentation yesterday. You really highlighted the challenges BME women face and the different debates and theories. Your presentation was a real eye opener especially to those who have not considered how the factors you highlighted contribute to disadvantage. Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule.

    Kau BellehThe Women's Empowerment conference