FROM IDEA TO REALITY: THE EVOLUTION OF NEW BEGINNINGS
New Beginnings is a concept which has been inspired by the Flemish organisation 'Stobbe'. Comparative research carried out by Leigh (2013; 2014; 2017) into the way in which services are provided in Flanders, Belgium and England, found that in Flanders residential centres are effective in providing better outcomes for children and parents. The findings showed that once parents were separated from the issues they faced, they were able to see their situation differently. The classes they attended provided parents with the space they were needed to develop their own emotional resilience and improve their parenting abilities.
The History of Stobbe
Stobbe means the stump of a tree and signifies ‘new beginning’ for families. It opened in 1990. It was originally a homeless hostel for women with one or more children and for women who were fleeing from domestic violence. After one-year of being open, Stobbe received funding from Kind en Gezin (child and family welfare organisation) to concentrate on supporting children aged from 0-6.
In 1995, Stobbe started to identify as a centre for Integrated Care so rather than just providing parents with support, they started thinking about the family as a whole. Stobbe was aware that there were often issues between the mother and their children who were staying at the centre and these could not be resolved by working with the parents alone.
In 1998, they developed an agreement with families who came to Stobbe, one which focused on working with children AND their parents. The support included financial support; finding a home and all other child in need issues. However, they mainly focused on relationships between the mother and the child. They also realised that if there was a father present who was living with the family, or having a relationship with the child, then he should be able to join them so that Stobbe could work holistically with the family as a unit. If there was no partner, or only one parent, then they would continue to work with the single parent and the children. They also worked with same sex couples.
In 2014, the law changed and under the Integrated Youth Care Law and Stobbe moved from being funded by the Department of Welfare to the Department of Youth Health. Families were also charged for staying there.
Stobbe is driven by the belief that parents and children need to be together to learn how to function well as a family. Stobbe is not driven by performance indicators or cost-effective measures. It is part of a social welfare ideology which believes that everyone who wants a chance of turning things around should be given one.