Written by Denise Ingamells

Professional Practice Consultant & Head of Mediation at Kent Family Mediation Service

Denise is a family mediator and author of the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) and accompanying handbook on behalf of Relate for Cafcass. She also delivers training to practitoners wanting to deliver the SPIP programme.

Many parents are wondering how to attend the SPIP now that it’s no longer possible to attend a face to face meeting..

Due to the risk posed by Covid-19, SPIP delivery has been moved to a safer online environment. The courts now expect that people will attend SPIPs virtually which means that if you are ordered to attend and don’t, SPIP providers have to let the court know the reason you’ve not been able to attend.

Exceptions might include people who don’t have the technology or those who are living with small children alone. The good news is that attending is easier than you might think, and you definitely don’t need to be a technology whiz-kid.

SPIP providers across the country have arranged video slots that are really easy to access; you’ll need a PC or a laptop with a webcam (or possibly a smartphone if you don’t have access to a PC). The sessions are confidential, and no recording is allowed.

If you’re on a PC it usually involves no more than clicking on a link; if you’re using an iPad or smartphone, you might have to download an App first. Your provider will
let you have instructions
and if you have any
problems they’ll talk it through with you before your SPIP.

Attending a virtual SPIP actually has some real advantages as it means that you can attend the programme from the comfort of your own home.

You will also need to be alone in a room with no children present during the session. Attending a virtual SPIP actually has some real advantages as it means that you can attend the programme from the comfort of your own home.

Also, face to face SPIPs are generally delivered in groups of six to twelve people whereas virtual SPIPs are delivered to smaller groups of four or five. Although the programme content remains that same it does mean that there is more time to offer more tailored support.

You will be offered daytime and weekend slots where you usually only have to attend once or shorter evening slots where you attend twice. Parents are finding it much easier to fit in as they don’t have to travel.

This is a difficult time for everyone and the stresses and strains of looking after children while working from home without support or being stopped from seeing your children due to the fears of their other parent can be particularly difficult to manage.

Reports from parents who have attended the SPIP virtually have been really positive; some have felt very isolated and said how good it felt to share their concerns and fears, others have said how they’ve found it incredibly supportive to talk to other parents in a similar situation to theirs.

I’ve delivered the SPIP since it started eleven years ago. I am constantly touched by the love that the parents that attend have for their children. I also know that this experience is echoed by other SPIP providers.

At the heart of the SPIP is the idea that wherever safe, children thrive when they are able to love and feel loved by both parents. We are currently living in particularly challenging times and it can be really hard to separate out what is appropriate fear from irrational fear, particularly when trust has broken down. Attending a SPIP will provide you with an opportunity to share your experiences and to hear other experiences in a structured way. You will also get tips on how to communicate more effectively in the best interests of your children.

Participants are telling us this really works for them.

“Many thanks. I have just completed the course which I would like to say was absolutely fantastic. Denise was a great tutor/host and I learned many elements which will hopefully help in terms of co-parenting. Using zoom was just as good as being in an actual classroom, as there were times to listen, and times to discuss the points.”














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