Emma Cohn and Stacey Hart set up a kidspace while working with bereaved children. They were aware that children experienced a similar sense of loss when their parents decided to separate and that there was no specific provision in place to support the children through this life changing event.
Over a quarter of children experience family breakdown and recent findings by the NSPCC revealed that only around 10% of these children will find someone to talk to.
a kidspace provides group sessions for children and young people between the ages of 6 and 16. It comprises a creative and structured programme of drama, relaxation techniques, games, role-play and storytelling. The children and young people have their own safe and conditionally confidential space where they can speak freely away from what is happening at home.
One of the tools utilised is a worry post box which the children and young people use to write down their worries. These are shared and addressed with the group at the end of the session.
Each child gets to take home a “feel better” bag consisting of all their work and creations during the course which they can, if they choose, share with their parents. Parents have fed back that this has helped build on their relationships at home and reinforced a deeper connection and understanding with their child. The children and young people leave the group with greater emotional literacy to help cope with their parent’s separation and thus emerge more resilient.
What the parents say:
This is Miriam’s account of how a kidspace helped her 9 year old son.
“During my divorce my son experienced a range of emotions and was struggling. In the beginning he was quite angry and I couldn’t get him to talk to me about how he was feeling.
a kidspace came at an important time for us, and although his school was supportive he felt very much alone as none of his friends’ parents were divorced and occasionally unkind words were spoken in the playground.
I have to admit to being very apprehensive about the group in the beginning but all my worries very quickly disappeared after the first session when he came out of the group in what can only be described as an elated state saying that he felt ‘like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders’.
It was a joy as a parent each week sitting outside the room listening to the children laughing and obviously having fun, and for my 9 year old greeting me with smiles and stories of what they had done.
The group experience was so important for him because he no longer felt alone and like he was the only one whose parents were divorced as all the other children were like him. He felt free to talk and share his feelings and experiences with no sense of embarrassment or fear.
Each week he couldn’t wait for the group and although he was sad when the group finished he knew that Emma and Stacey were there if he needed their support in the future.
a kidspace was the turning point we needed to open up the channels of communication between us and has given him the tools he needs to move forward through a difficult time.
I feel this group is essential for more children like my son and having tried the one to one counselling route I feel it was the group experience that was so essential. Having investigated lots of different avenues I am very aware that a kidspace is very unique in their approach.
I hope that they get the support they need to continue the very important work that a kidspace does for children going through family breakdown, separation and divorce, so that children from all backgrounds across the UK can have access to the valuable support my son had when he needed it most.”
Please look at www.akidspace.co.uk/testimonials for more testimonials from parents and quotes from children about their experience at a kidspace.
What the professionals say:
Family Law in Partnership LLP celebrated being named Family Law Firm of the Year in the inaugural Jordan’s Family Law Awards 2011 by announcing its support for a kidspace. Family Law in Partnership LLP provides funding to a kidspace enabling subsidised places to be offered to children who might not otherwise be in a position to take advantage of the expertise of a kidspace.
Gillian Bishop, a founding partner of Family Law in Partnership LLP, commented: “We are delighted to support a kidspace an organisation which, like Family Law in Partnership, is passionate about providing every possible help to children who experience a family breakdown. The Family Justice Review highlighted the need for the family justice system to provide more support for children affected by family breakdown and the innovative work of a kidspace provides exactly that. This service complements the Parenting After Parting workshops that we run at Family Law in Partnership which encourage parents to place their children’s needs at the heart of their decision making process when undergoing a divorce or separation. We are very pleased to be able to help more children to access the inspirational services offered by a kidspace.”
4 Paper Buildings was named Family Law Chambers of the Year in 2011 in the Jordans Family Law Awards and decided to mark the award by helping to fund a kidspace. Jonathan Cohen QC, head of chambers, explained why: “As barristers we are very used to providing expert advice, representation and support for our clients but can do little for those caught in the middle of parental conflict. a kidspace provides a unique support to those children. We have been impressed with what they do and we want to be able to help them expand their activities so that more children can benefit from their expertise”.
(By Natalie O’Neill, Times)
(Stacey Hart on Vanessa Feltz at 2 hours and 51 minutes)