Leading relationship charities call for all public servants to be trained in relationship support awareness
Leading relationship charities are calling on all political parties to put good-quality couple, family and social relationships centre stage in policy making in the run up to the General Election. The Relationships Alliance, made up of Relate, One Plus One, Marriage Care and the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships, has today published its Relationships Manifesto, which includes a call for all frontline practitioners delivering public services to be given relationship support awareness training.
The Relationships Alliance will launch its 12 policy recommendations in The Relationships Manifesto: Strengthening Relationships to an audience of MPs, civil servants and other charities at a reception in the House of Commons later on today. As well as making recommendations, the Manifesto identifies three main barriers which prevent people from strengthening their relationships: cultural barriers, (including the perceived stigma around seeking help for relationships); financial barriers; and systemic barriers (including a lack of knowledge about the importance of relationships or how to access relationship support). All the recommendations in the Manifesto aim to tackle these barriers in order to improve the nation’s relationships.
Among other recommendations, the Manifesto also calls for Family and Relationship Centres to be set up in the UK as they have been in Australia, as well as setting up a £5 million ‘Strengthening Relationships’ fund, which will allow local authorities to develop and extend relationship support at the local level. The Alliance is also seeking to make Relationships and Sex Education a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, which would be taught by relationship experts.
Ruth Sutherland, Chair of the Relationships Alliance and Chief Executive of Relate, said: “The Relationships Manifesto is a great starting point for policy makers to really put relationships at the heart of policy making. Couple, family, social and community relationships are crucial to most of us, yet public policy often overlooks or even undermines them.
“Making all frontline public service staff aware of the importance of relationships will ensure that crucial community figures are able to spot those in need and signpost them to expert help.”
Susanna Abse, Chief Executive of the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships, who will be presenting the Manifesto at its launch, said: “This is a simple way to prioritise relationships without adding extra budget or burden to public sector workers.
“Strong and healthy relationships are the basis of a thriving society: they see individuals, families and communities through good times and bad, so it is absolutely crucial that the role they play in our lives is adequately recognised in public policy come the Election.”
As well as the call to increase awareness of relationship support for public servants, the Relationships Alliance is also calling for the following policies:
- A cabinet level Minister for Families and Relationships with a dedicated Whitehall department.
- All children and young people should have access to Relationships and Sex Education, which should be a compulsory part of the national curriculum and taught by experts.
- Family and Relationship Centres should be piloted in the UK, as they have been in Australia.
- Central government should launch a £5M ‘Strengthening relationships Fund’ to engage local authorities to develop and extend relationship support at a local level.
- Central and local government should ensure that services designed to help at life transition points include a focus on couple, family and social relationships.
- Central government should match-fund 10% of the cost of the transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners on an annual basis and invest it in strengthening couple, family and social relationships.
- The Department of Health should expand the delivery of couple therapy for depression within the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programmes.
- Relationship education should be incentivised through local government waiving the marriage notices of £35 – per person (£70 per couple) fee.
- The Cabinet Office should expand its What Works Network to include a What Works Centre for Families and Relationships.
- Directors of Public Health should be required to measure the quality and stability of couple, family and social relationships to inform policy and commissioning by local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.
- The expanded Troubled families programmes should include a focus on supporting and measuring the quality and stability of couple, family and social relationships.