Avenues: Family support sessions in Greenwich

Case study summary

Avenues: mindfulness, positive behaviour support and active support sessions help families in Greenwich


NHS England gave Transforming Care grants to innovative small projects for children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both.

Avenues, a small not-for profit organisation, used their transforming care grant to hold sessions for family members on mindfulness, positive behaviour support (PBS) and active support. Twelve people who were family members of a child or young person with significant challenging behaviour attended the six sessions, which were designed to help them develop resilience and promote more positive outcomes for both them and their family.

As well as learning about the philosophy of mindfulness, PBS and active support, they were given practical techniques to use at home and in the community.

To evaluate the project, the families completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) before and after the programme, and took part in a qualitative semi-structured interview afterwards. The independent evaluation showed that:

  • All participants were positive about the group, saying it had helped them feel less isolated.
    “I think a lot of people feel isolated when they have children on the spectrum or disabilities. And the isolation I think is probably the worst thing because you always think that other people’s lives are better and that other people don’t understand; you are the only person in that situation.”
  • They generally enjoyed the mindfulness elements of the group, and also reported that combining the support strategies with the mindfulness teaching was particularly helpful.
    “I think that is what made the difference really; I think the two together worked really well.”
  • Participants said that focussing on the ‘now’ meant that they didn’t worry about what had happened in the past and what might happen in the future and helped them feel more in control.
    “…just actually in that moment being able to be more in control of what was happening or myself or thought processes…”
  • As a consequence, participants reported being able to reduce the number of episodes of challenging behaviour by being able to intervene at an early stage.
    “Realising the things that the child is going through and your reaction to that so I think the two worked perfectly together. The techniques of being able to reach your child before they get to the meltdown stage is fantastic and that is something that I am looking for; trigger points for my son.”
  • They felt that their mindfulness had led to an increased understanding of their children and young people.
    “The more I understand him the less I lose my patience with him.”
  • All reported very positive changes in wellbeing following the group.
    “…because I am not doing everything on autopilot now I am more aware of it approaching and actually able to calm a situation before it even gets to that too far. I am more aware I am more in tune with him and what he is feeling and I can pick up on it better now.”
  • These changes were also seen as having an impact both on participants’ behaviour and on the behaviour of their children and young people.
    “I must say it is has kind of changed because my behaviour has changed because my reaction has changed it has had an impact and has changed the behaviours from him because he is not feeding off my negativity.”
  • This was seen as having contributed to more enjoyment of spending time with their children and young people:
    “I have really changed as a parent and…the last couple of times [name of child] has come home I have actually really, really enjoyed him being here, we have enjoyed each other’s company.”

Read more about the project.


Michael Gray, www.avenuesgroup.org.uk