Guest Blog: Steph Eaton
Guest Blog: Steph Eaton of Barnardo's Essex Service on being a SPOC/CAPI Champion
I think that the work that Barnardo's Essex CAPI does with children and families is amazing, they work with those that are vulnerable and ask the questions that others may not know how to or may not want to due to the implications of the answers. Barnardos Essex CAPI are able to provide a specialist service and support that help both parents/carers and children who are affected by imprisonment or/and offending. The service has five key outcomes: Training to professionals, Steering Groups, Family support and partnership work with the Military Correction Training Centre (MCTC) Colchester and HMP prisons. Barnardo's Essex CAPI provides support and advice to families' through-out the Criminal Justice System i.e. arrest, court, community or custodial sentence and resettlement. A Barnardo's Essex CAPI Champions role (SPOC- Single Point of Contact) includes promoting the work of a SPOC and the support available to children and families, sharing best practice to colleagues and other professionals at network meetings and keeping up to date on national and local changes in policies and procedures. Being a Champion also means challenging stigma, discrimination and victimisation of those who are suffering from the hidden sentence of having someone they love in one part or another of the criminal justice system. With my role as a SPOC while working at the Children's Centre, I ensured that all my colleagues were aware of the services that Barnardo's Essex CAPI provide as well as ensuring that their support is offered to those who may need it. I was the person who they could contact if they did not want to talk to others so that I could refer them into Barnardo's Essex CAPI and get them the support they may need. Whether this was giving information about travelling to prison, telling the children and benefits and debt management. Through working with Barnardo's Essex CAPI I could ensure vulnerable families, who are affected by imprisonment or offending, could receive the specialist support they need. In April 2017 I was successful in gaining employment with the CAPI team as a Family Support Worker. My main role is to offer direct support and group work to children and families and I am also the lead for the SPOC programme. Since being the lead I have reviewed how the service operates and implemented changes so professionals can value their time away from their daily role and benefit from meeting with others. One of the many good things about Barnardo's Essex CAPI is that there isn't a strict criteria for a family to have to meet and that they are not limited on the time that they are allowed to spend working with a family or child; this not only allows for the family to build a positive relationship with their worker but also means that they are able to get the support that they need, when they need it. I believe the SPOC Champion model can be further developed in a number of ways i.e. SPOC Champions attending local authority or Advisory Board meeting and giving a presentation on their role. Greater awareness of the Barnardos Charter to ensure more agencies have signed up to its cause along with a new SPOC leaflet and training. As the new SPOC lead I look forward to ensuring that those that have signed up to the charter and are the SPOC for their service carry out their responsibilities and also to look at the various ways in which the Champion model can be improved and extended.