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Spotlight on Member: Help Somalia Foundation - Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities Parenting Project


Help Somalia Foundation:  Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities Project 

Facilitated by Help Somalia Foundation (HSF), 19 parents in the London Borough of Brent completed a 13-week parenting program, called strengthening families, strengthening communities (SFSC). The successful program, which is run by HSF 8 times per year, focuses on developing good parenting skills and knowledge within a cultural framework.

The SFSC program is an adaptation of an original program developed by four professionals in America in the early 1990s. They looked at how to prevent children from developing anti-social behaviour, to prevent such behavior from escalating, and how to help children already in a great deal of trouble for example those that find themselves involved with statutory agencies. Their response was to develop a program that would help equip parents with protective knowledge and relevant skills that would enable them to successfully support the emotional, physical, and cultural/spiritual development needs of their child. Like the other three professionals involved, Dr Marilyn Steele developed facilitator tools and co-produced a curriculum based on insights she gained from working with actual families, in her case, drawn from inner city African and Hispanic communities. In 1999 the Race Equality Foundation in consultation with Dr Steele and a group of parents and professionals adapted the program to meet the needs of Britain’s BME communities and the first facilitator training took place a year later.

Parents on the program delivered by HSF learnt how to build a positive relationship with their child, how to better understand their child’s emotions and behaviour, how to help them navigate rites of passage. They also learnt key skills like active listening, and how to implement positive discipline methods. In the process, parents, too, built their self-esteem and confidence, and were encouraged by HSF facilitators to take part in community activities.

Commenting at the certificate award ceremony on the 7th of March that was also attended by Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, Mr Harbi Farah, director of Help Somalia Foundation, said:

‘I would recommend this excellent program to all parents and in particular to members of newer communities who have made London their home. This program provides parents with essential skills and knowledge enabling them to help their child to thrive. The program also enables parents to re-examine their core values, affirm their heritage, while adjusting to the new opportunities and cultures that they find all around them’.

Help Somalia Foundation was established in 1996 to help integrate Somali refugees. Today, Help Somalia Foundation, works to address the needs, and champion the voice, of disadvantaged communities, irrespective of their ethnic heritage. HSF’s mission is to help break down the barriers that prevent inclusion, social mobility, and equality. Harbi Farah believes that:

‘Every young person especially should be supported to reach their full potential, to contribute to British society, while maintaining their unique identity, which includes language, culture and beliefs’.

In relation to the diverse Somali community, HSF provides a number of services to help individuals access the employment market, to know their rights and to have up-to-date access to information provided especially by statutory agencies that will improve their life, to support families and young people to have high aspirations and high educational achievement, and to assist with the development of accountable and effective leadership.