In 2014, the Welsh Government identified the need for a more accessible route to key family services. Despite the wealth of information and support out there, we discovered through consultation with families that many were missing out on services they were entitled to, and often got lost scouring the internet, only to find sources of uncertain reliability and in a language they don’t find accessible. As experts in client-centred communication and social development, we were pleased to take on the challenge for the Welsh Government.
Talking to parents and carers, it became apparent that most people don’t go looking for help and information until they’re in desperate need. Therefore the purpose of FamilyPoint Cymru was to engage families earlier on and keep them informed about services to prevent them reaching crisis point.
In order to create a service for families, the best place to start was by involving them. We met with parent groups across Wales to find out what help they needed and why they couldn’t access it. You can hear more about this process here.
Our research highlighted that many families are losing out due to digital exclusion – either as a result of poor internet service and a lack of access to a computer/mobile device, or because they don’t have the skills and literacy to search online. As websites often go out of date quite quickly and can be hard to navigate, many families prefer to get their information through social media or word of mouth.
This informed our decision to create a service that was available online as well as by phone, text, instant message and social media. We believe in people first, technology second. We took all that we learnt from families and bashed our creative heads together with Burning Red, our creative design partners, to develop the best family-friendly, tech-innovative solution.
FamilyPoint Cymru is a multi-channel touchpoint that puts parents and carers at the heart of the service. It offers a mobile-optimised website with a simple to use search function, alongside social media, telephone helpline, text and instant messaging making it widely accessible to families across Wales.
As well as being a directory of trusted organisations and services, it is the FamilyPoint Cymru content that attracts people to the site and keeps them coming back for more. Our articles are a mix of personal stories and blogs written by families themselves; simple explanations of changes to policy – e.g. benefits, education, family rights; and useful tips on parenting, saving money, kids activities and cheap days out.
Everything is presented in family-friendly language with quick links, images, audio and video content to make it engaging and easy to digest. There are comment boxes on each article and everything is shared through social-media, providing multiple ways for families to give feedback, raise issues and offer advice to other parents and carers.
Parents can get personalised help through writing to ‘A Problem Shared…’ or by contacting the confidential helpline, which is staffed by professional advocacy trained advisers.
Since launching in November 2015, FamilyPoint Cymru has continued to evolve and develop. Parents and carers are with us every step of the way in that process, and we believe that by giving them a voice in their service, is key to its success.
“Can I say that I have just been on your family point website and what a brilliant web page it is and that I will be signposting a lot of my clients to it!” – Gavo, Blaenau-Gwent
“I’m a Mum in Barry and really struggled to find information for my son. This is marvellous.” – Parent
“FamilyPoint is a really fantastic resource.” – Communities 1st, Cardiff