Guest Blog – Paul Best – Working with Parents

Paul Best is the head of service for the family assist team based within the children and families department at Hammersmith and Fulham council. The service was set up in response to the Ofsted’s thematic report which highlighted the importance of good engagement as an integral part of work with children and families. The family assist team prides itself on being able to work with a range of young people who may be otherwise described as “hard-to-reach”, the service is multidisciplinary made up of a range of highly skilled professionals including rapid response, ASB & Crime & clinical practitioners who deal with emergency and crisis intervention, as well as educational, substance misuse and sexual exploitation specialists. The team’s primary function is to prevent young people being taken into local authority care or remand by offering intensive and practical support and interventions.


Who we are and what we do –

Family Assist is a multidisciplinary team based within Hammersmith & Fulham’s Children and family services. We were set up in response to an Ofsted thematic report highlighting the need for a change in the way we work with children and families. Primarily we support social work teams across children and family services but we also work collaboratively with a range of services across the local authority and partner organisations.

Our primary focus is to reduce family breakdown and reduce the need for young people to be taken into local authority care or placed on remand. We do this by working intensively with families to shift negative perceptions of social care, build trusting relationships and pilot new ways of working. We also offer rapid response where there’s imminent risk of care – this often includes providing family mediation at point of crisis. We use a non social work based model however, all our practitioners are systematically trained and are highly skilled and experienced in a variety of different backgrounds including youth offending, youth work, education, psychotherapy, sexual health (CSE), substance misuse and exploitation. We passionately believe that using a what works approach means that we can offer our children and families the flexibility and choice which provides them with the autonomy they need to make changes to their lives.

The film


We decided to make this small film so that we could capture the experiences of parents – often labelled as ‘hard to reach’ – who have been through the system and have worked with a range of different services over a number of years and who’s lack of trust in the system made it hard for them to trust us. Our aim was to illustrate this by applying a what works approach in our interventions with a focus on building trusting relationships. Their stories highlight the importance trust plays and how integral it is when bringing about positive and sustainable outcomes when working with families to remain together.

Sue and Odean’s different but yet compelling stories highlight the importance of good engagement, but most importantly how trust and a belief in the family’s ability to change can make a real difference to people’s lives whilst at the same time shifting negative perceptions of social care.

This short but powerful footage is just a snapshot of the work we do and will hopefully provide some insight into often a complex but rewarding vocation.

We do hope that this will pave the way to more inspiring films in the future and to help inform and share good practice across a range of services but ultimately to improve the lives of our children and families.

The videos can be found for free download on the resources section of our website or click here