Our chief executive, David Holmes CBE introduces our new blog and looks at how communication and technology have changed at Family Action.
Welcome to our new Family Action blog “Our Voices”. The aim of “Our Voices” is to give an insight into our work and the support offered by our wide range of services, together with the opportunity to talk about what’s going on at Family Action and in the wider world. We will be sharing articles written by our staff, trustees, volunteers and supporters as well as those who use our services.
Family Action prides itself on its innovation and it is with great pleasure that I am writing Family Action’s first article for “Our Voices”, which looks at how Family Action is harnessing new and developing technology to help deliver support in the most effective and efficient way.
Communications have moved on a lot since we were established back in 1869, but our commitment to supporting children, young people and families, together with raising awareness of and discussing the issues that affect those we help, has remained the same.
It isn’t just the way we are talking about our work that is changing; the way we can provide support is evolving too. Many of our existing services have begun to use new technology and emerging digital communication channels, to enhance the support they provide. Exploring platforms like WhatsApp, Snapchat and better email communications has meant our services are able to keep up with the changing pace of the world and improve access by the people we support, whatever their age.
Our social media presence has grown significantly in the last 12 months with our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube channels all seeing a big increase in followers. Where appropriate, many of our services have begun to use these platforms to signpost parents and carers to information and updates. This has allowed many of our public-facing services such as our Peterborough pre-schools, Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS), Perinatal Support and Friendship Works mentoring services to improve their reach and presence within the community and reach the people they support in a new and very accessible way.
“Digital communications and technology are also a fundamental part of our future at Family Action”
Digital communications and technology are also a fundamental part of our future at Family Action with new services being developed with the 21st century very much in mind. We have been working closely with innovation foundation Nesta, part funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop our new Digital Parent Support Service. This service uses a network of trained volunteers to help parents and carers with practical and emotional support 7 days a week via telephone, text message and email to tackle the problems they are facing and that they have asked us to help them with. Our Special Guardian Support Service also uses web technology to provide local authorities with an effective way of supporting special guardians in their area, reducing costs and improving access to the vital information and emotional support they need when they need it. We have also begun developing Family Connect, a standalone website aimed at supporting people who were adopted, in care or donor conceived, or who have simply lost touch with family members, to learn how they may be able to search for and access information about their past.
Whether through adapting our existing services or designing innovative new ones, Family Action is dedicated to finding improved ways of meeting the needs of all of the children, young people and families who rely on us. As we move into our 150th year, it is an exciting time to be part of Family Action.
We hope that you will enjoy reading “Our Voices” and will find it interesting. Watch out for the new and exciting updates we will be sharing through “Our Voices” to find out more about what is going on in the organisation and our ever developing work.