Beacon Family Services helps children, their parents, carers, and teachers to develop and build strong connections and healthy relationships. Feelings surrounding safety and security are explored and reinforced through play-based therapies and training that are child-led and tailored to individuals’ needs and interests.
Beacon offers ‘Theraplay’, an accredited therapy that supports parents, caregivers or teachers to meet the needs of their children in a fun and accessible way. This can be to support their social and mental health generally but also extends to more specific support. For example, building confident communication in a child with autism, or offering a safe and responsive environment for children who have experienced trauma to communicate their feelings.
As part of the Early Help Sutton Coldfield Panel, Beacon were able to provide virtual Theraplay (Teletheraplay) sessions for families who were left vulnerable by the social isolation and unfamiliarity of the pandemic and lockdowns. “One in six children has a probable mental health need” and “without access to their local schools and community groups, many parents felt alone with their child.” With the support of Beacon Family Services, through the Early Help Partnership, parents and children had a reliable resource offering the professional mental health support they needed. The positive impact that this work has on individuals is made clear by the response from parents. One parent offered their personal reflection on a session they were a part of, saying:
“We better understand each other, I’m more aware of the triggers behind certain behaviour and how to respond to it. It helps to have the reassurance from interacting with other adults and families that parenting isn’t entirely straightforward and that’s the case for everybody and, ultimately, all we can do is our best. In lockdown, this has also been the only interaction our children have had with other children or with any link to school etc so it’s been really valuable in that respect too. Saves us from all feeling entirely isolated from the outside world.”
A team of volunteer knitters made every child a unique beacon beanie that represented a beacon of hope. This beanie of hope was there for children to hold onto throughout the new challenges that these recent times have brought up, to remind them that they will see their friends, teachers and other people important to them again. Beacon is also carrying out a project with the UP Creative Community to provide play materials for families. Paving the way for families to regain safety, calmness and fun in their lives are key aims for the support that Beacon provides. Early Help helps to facilitate this by connecting different community groups with one another, ensuring that they are in the best position to support families in whatever ways they need.