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Family Compass: Time to Make Sense

by Lucy Capron in Knowle, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 27th November 2018 we successfully raised £40 with 2 supporters in 35 days

To provide early mental heath support for children and families in North Devon by building resilience through Time to Make Sense groups.

by Lucy Capron in Knowle, England, United Kingdom

The project?

“Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce”

Time to Make Sense is a small group for children in the local community. Its core aim is to give children time to focus on making sense of the many emotions they experience throughout childhood. It is designed to develop awareness and understanding of the impact of these emotions, while learning positive skills and strategies to support self-regulation and to overcome future challenges. It is a key stepping stone to supporting mental health needs at an early stage in childhood.

We know that the best way to support young people to learn is through play and discovery. The content of the 10-week programme is centred on this, providing a safe space to share their experiences and learn from each other. Working with each child's strengths, it supports them to gain confidence and self-belief. to build positive relationships and to support the management of their strong feelings.

Often the focus of a group is on a single environment – school, home or social – and yet we expect children to manage their strong feelings effectively across all these areas. The Time to Make Sense programme provides a combination of family, one-to-one and group sessions, ensuring that all relevant key people are aware of what children are learning and how they need to be supported, enabling them to make positive, lasting changes.

We have already carried out a number of groups across North Devon and are hoping to achieve funding to facilitate a further 3 groups.  At the start and end of each group we measure outcomes and gather both quantitative and qualitative evidence to establish the impact of support – what difference does this programme make to children and their families? Feedback from the community and outcome scores have been consistently positive, and we want to build on this. Our long-term aim is to provide Time To Make Sense programmes as an ongoing free resource to every school and community in North Devon.

Why is this important for our local community?

Caring for the emotional well-being of children is just as important as caring for their physical health. Good mental health supports children to be resilient- it enables them to cope with the challenges they face from childhood through to adulthood.

Mental health charity Young Minds reports that 1 in every 10 children is affected by a mental health need at some point in their lives. Statistics show that 70 % of these children have not had access to appropriate support. Nationally 23% of referrals to CAMHS are not provided with support. Less than 1% of the NHS budget is spent on children’s mental health and only 16% of that is used to support early intervention.

In the current financial climate, many services and agencies are experiencing ongoing cuts to their budgets and this affects the services that are available for families, sometimes leaving very limited options. Time to Make Sense is a unique model that provides essential early mental health support which can really make a difference for young people and families when facing future challenges.

Why support us?

We are passionate social entrepreneurs, living and working in the North Devon Community. We have both worked for many years in Family Support and have listened to and understood the needs of families in the area.  We have spent years developing this project, with the first group starting in September 2017, and have the needs of families at the heart of everything we do. We have developed this programme to try to meet some of the needs expressed by families.


The theoretical underpinning for the programme is centred on building resilience. Evidence shows that resilience is learnt through our life experiences and the development of our stress management strategies. In each group session a new taster strategy is introduced to practice at home.  These strategies are centred on well-known, effective Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness techniques. We believe that all children can learn the skills needed to be resilient, to make good choices and build on the strengths they already have within them. Our approach is positive and strengths- based, built on a foundation of good communication with children, families, schools and referrers. 

Positive Outcomes?

For children and families, being able to clearly see the progress they've made is an essential part of their journey. We always measure the impact of our services using our Outcomes Compass tool, completed with families at the beginning and end of the group. 

Contributing to key outcomes: Improving confidence and self-belief, building positive relationships with others and developing the resilience to manage strong feelings effectively. 

Feedback from children and families?

“I didn’t want to get angry, so I walked away and sat on the grass and stroked my leg with a dandelion to calm me down” Child, aged 5

“There have been several times when [my child] would previously have ‘seen red’ when she has been able to talk about how she is feeling” Parent

“[My child] has been much calmer lately, managing to calm herself down when angry, and being noticeably more aware of her own emotions” Parent

How will the money be spent?

We are hoping to raise £4830 to fund 3 groups in North Devon; one in Barnstaple, one in Bideford and one in Ilfracombe. This covers the core cost to facilitate the groups, each group costing £1610, a breakdown in cost for each groups as follows; 

Community venue hire (one-off): £240 (over 10 weeks per group). 

Facilitator fees (one-off): £904, 2 facilitators per group. 

Resources (one-off, with the exception of a few items such as cups, blankets, mats etc which may last several groups): £321

Transport for families with no access to transport: £145

It would be brilliant if our amazing supporters could donate a small amount to this cause - a little goes a long way when we all work together!

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