Timely Intervention for Families or TIFs for short is the name of a new service designed by Siobainn Chaplin to help children and their parents or carers start to communicate again and understand each other’s perspective during difficult times. Intended as a complementary service to current support services available, through TIFs, impartial coaches work with families to identify the triggers for problems, open up communication channels and develop coping strategies.
Siobainn started her long career working with young people as a Youth Worker, setting up projects in schools and helping youngsters who were not academic to gain qualifications through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. She also set up a pilot scheme for very vulnerable young people, who were not in education, to support them with their required formal education and to manage their often-difficult home situations. “I was very proud of the fact that all of these young people went onto apprenticeships, college or employment. By investing time in them, we provided them with the trust that they had lost in adults,” stated Siobainn.
Moving to Wiltshire, she became a Youth Work Team Leader where she set up a LGBTQ+ project which was so successful that it was adopted by Ofsted for their assessors. “A key highlight for the project was a visit by Sir Ian McKellen who came to chat to the young people,” stated Siobainn. She also modestly mentions that she also picked up a number of community awards, as well as being recognised by the Department for Education for her work with young people.
Moving to grow the listening and counselling services in Bath and North East Somerset as Operations Manager, she oversaw the introduction of a LGBTQ+ project there and redeveloped the leadership team. She set up focus groups for young people to listen to their feedback on the service from which the key message was that they wanted parents to better understand what it was like to be a young person. This led to Siobainn developing “The Teenage Jigsaw Puzzle – Connecting the Pieces”.
On the flip side, Siobainn heard from parents that they wanted to help their children but were often excluded from hearing what their issues were due to confidentiality clauses. This started her thinking about the potential for helping both parties to explore and resolve their issues with the assistance of impartial coaches who could also help them to put support plans into place.
After some research on the internet, she plucked up the courage to resign from her job and start to set up her own business. “I never had the confidence to do it previously but the desire to help parents and young people in this way was my driver,” commented Siobainn. “I always aspired to work for myself, and I decided that this was the time for me to challenge myself. Lockdown has had a profound impact on family lives as they spend more time together with the pressures of home-schooling, restrictions on movements and the pressures of potential reductions on income.”
Siobainn was signposted to the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) programme by her local council, and she describes the service as “fantastic!” She participated in workshops, including one on imposter syndrome which resonated with her. “I could recognise that I had achieved many great things in my career, but I still had doubts about my ability to take my idea forward, and this workshop helped me to work through this,” she stated.
Siobainn admits to not being a big user of social media, but found the AWE social media workshops really useful, to give her an understanding of how it could potentially help promote her business. “One of the best parts of the AWE programme was connecting with other women on the same journey,” said Siobainn. She joined the regular networking sessions with other female business owners and describes it as “brilliant” to be with a supportive group of women. She also found the Business Start-Up Bootcamp of benefit as it took her through all the steps to self-employment.
The 1:1 sessions with the AWE team helped her to reflect on what she had achieved so far and left her feeling “invigorated.” She continued, “The sessions kept me on track, helping me to identify areas to work on and find ways to strengthen my knowledge – I would not have got so far without them! It was like having a business friend, which I really valued as it can be lonely working on your own and I am a very social person,” explained Siobainn. “Having access to like-minded women through the AWE programme gives you a whole new network of contacts, who can help each other.”
Siobainn also applied for a Start Up Loan from Outset Finance and she is waiting to hear the outcome. “I plan to use this to pay for some of my marketing and my new website which will enable me to bring together a network of coaches who will be able to help families.”
Siobainn plans to do a soft launch in August with a full launch in September after the school holidays. “It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to get to the stage where it all goes live to see my planning in place. I want to fill a very important gap in the provision of support to families and help avoid issues becoming a matter of conflict.”