Celia Suppiah has been well known to me and to my colleagues for some five years now. She has been involved, virtually since the start, in our national health literacy programme Skilled for Health, a joint programme with DIUS and the national health and education charity ContinYou.


In Thurrock, working with the local community mothers group she was a pioneer for this community based learning intervention and as such she and her colleagues in this locality, through their testing of the concept have made a significant contribution to its success and growth from a series of modest local pilots to a national programme featured in DH White Papers and other major policy publications. I have no doubt she has the skills, professional knowledge and understanding of, and commitment to, community based interventions to make a success of her social enterprise.

Mike Horah
Head of Social Marketing and Health Related Behaviour Department of Health

A  Collective Evaluation of Community Parent Programmes

This national research project (2005-2007) was funded by the Health Foundation and sponsored by South Essex NHS Research Consortium. Ten Community Parent Programmes operating across England,Wales and Scotland took part in the study.

The study used a standardised evaluation strategy and multi-faceted participatory research methods. 456 parents, 105 Community Parent volunteers and 123 front-line partnership workers took part in the study.

Valuable insights were gained into parent, child and volunteer outcomes; best practice strategies for new programmes; and how established programmes can be refined to improve effectiveness.

Parents benefiting the most were those facing higher levels of disadvantage. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ comparisons for the 114 parents who received 8 ongoing home visits showed positive change for a wide range of health and parenting issues. Change was statistically significant for:

  • Access to emotional support
  • Access to information about parenting
  • Feeling confident about handling children’s behaviour
  • Feeling confident about what foods are right for children
  • Having time in the day for eating properly
  • Overcoming social isolation

Key benefits for volunteer Community Parents were:

  • Personal development opportunities (rated highest)
  • Increased awareness of local community issues and services
  • Increased self-confidence, self-esteem and sense of achievement
  • Satisfaction gained from contributing to the wellbeing of others
  • Improved knowledge of health and parenting issues
  • Gaining work experience and being part of a mutually supportive team
  • Accessing gateways into new training opportunities, qualifications and employment

Key recommendations for successful implementation included:

  • Explicit ‘ownership’ by the volunteer and parent participants
  • Effective commissioning to improve sustainability
  • Embedding delivery alongside multifaceted children’s centre services
  • A governance framework that supports the community development and empowerment ethos e.g. social enterprise
  • Strong collaborative links but avoidance of being ‘controlled’ by statutory services

Copies of the full report are priced at £20 including p&p

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