A host of agencies came together in Rochdale last week to start a revolution on relationships.
More than 200 professionals, including social workers, health professionals, schools, probation, police and voluntary organisations, packed out the Great Hall at Rochdale Town Hall to learn about new ways of working to help support families, reduce conflict and maintain positive relationships.
Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "We're really pleased to have so many partners on board and backing our work on relationships. It's all part of our commitment to helping families earlier with the right support before bigger issues present themselves."
Professor Gordon Harold presented detailed research findings on the impact parental conflict has on children at various stages of their life.
Helen Kane from Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (Cafcass), spoke about the family court system and how all agencies can work together to improve relationships between parents to reduce the amount of cases going to family courts, by addressing issues through mediation.
Sheena Adam, director and mediator with Children First, spoke about the various ways conflict can be displayed and the various techniques available to reduce conflict in the family. She also spoke about the 'How to Argue Better' programme that has been running in Rochdale, where 16 professionals from across public services have been trained so they can train thousands of others in new ways of working.
The relationship manifesto was launched at the conference, with a call to action for all who live and work in the borough to support local developments to promote positive relationships and reduce conflict. All partners pledged to support to making this a priority.
Gail Hopper, Director of Children's Services, said: "It was fantastic to see so many people come together, not just to hear what the speakers had to say, but also with lots of ideas about how this will move forward. I really believe that in the home of cooperation in Rochdale, we are at the beginning of a revolution to improve relationships where we can all work together to give families the support they need, when they need it.
"To have people queuing to pledge to reducing family conflict was delightful to see and I know we're at the start of something exciting."
A young person who recently taken part in our 'Break 4 Change' programme, aimed at young people who are violent or in conflict with their parents, gave a powerful and moving account of how her life had been totally turned around after taking part. She told the conference that she wouldn't be here today speaking if it weren't for the intervention of the course.
She went on to explain how it had helped her cope with her emotions, made her realise she wasn't alone and enabled her to meet lifelong, supportive friends.
2 parents also shared their experience of the impact the programme had on them and their family life.
Work will now develop locally on a multi-agency basis to implement the agreed plan that emerges from the manifesto.