Working with Parents: Kitchen Table Talks - West Midlands (2021)

Summary:  Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton YOTs work in partnership with First Cass Legacy to run monthly meetings for parents whose children attend the YOS
Age: n/a
Sex: n/a
Cost: n/a




  • To create a supportive space for parents to share experiences and learn from each other
  • To reduce isolation in parents who have children open to the YOS
  • To create a bridge between parents and the YOS for better working relationships
  • To deliver awareness raising sessions to parents about key topics they felt they needed help with
  • To use as a forum for involving parents in decisions about YOS service delivery



Sandwell YOS had a variety of parents who expressed a sense of isolation and described struggling with their child’s behaviour but not knowing what to do about this. In order to support parents, Sandwell YOS partnered up with First Cass Legacy to run a Kitchen Table Talks.’ The concept behind the talks is a safe and relaxed space where parents are able to worth through the isolation and stress via shared experience with other parents who are going through the same things.

The parents that attend are supported to share their personal experience and learning with each other and ask for information from professionals around the Youth Justice System, if required.
Parents are encouraged to engage in group discussions around set topics, aimed at supporting them with their children and some of the more difficult and challenging elements of their behaviour. In addition, the talks have started to bridge the gap between the YOS and the parents so that they have felt included, listened to and heard. This has meant that Sandwell YOS has had the opportunity to consider and amend practice and the systems within the YOS to best suit the needs of the parents and their children. This has also meant that a feedback loop has been established between the YOS and parents and vice versa.
Through the Kitchen Table Talks, Sandwell YOS and First Class Legacy have co-created with parents a video that can be shared and used with other parents concerning some of the signs to look for in children involved in criminal activity.

Following the positive outcomes of Kitchen Table Talks, a new project focused on reducing serious youth violence is now underway in the West Midlands as part of the YJB’s work to use “pathfinders” to explore and share solutions to some of the toughest issues the youth justice system is facing. The youth offending team pathfinder project is being delivered collaboratively between seven YOTs within the West Midlands area; Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton in conjunction with their local Violence Reduced Unit.

The project aims to create and facilitate community based, parental peer support networks across the West Midlands that can be accessed by parents with children known to or at risk of involvement with the youth justice system. The pathfinder is being delivered by First Class Foundation through their Kitchen Table Talks service.
Kitchen Table Talks have been supporting parents and guardians across the West Midlands region, through the COVID-19 pandemic through regular phone calls, messages, video calls as well as monthly on-line forums.

Through these means of communication, the parents and guardians have said that they feel they have been listened to, supported and encouraged in their parenting abilities, their experiences as well as seeing an improvement in their mental well-being.

Kitchen Table Talks have also sent out First Class Family boxes to some of the parents that was felt that they could benefit from receiving a box of love, hope and encouragement.
Kitchen table talks have also sent out flowers and personalised cards to parents and families that have suffered a bereavement.

Please click here to access a variety of short videos from First Class Legacy.

Please here to access First Class Legacy promotional video showcasing Table Talks.



Implementing the practice:

  • The YOS delivers the Kitchen Table Talk session for parents once per month, together with their partner First Class Legacy.
  • At present the funding for this project comes from the PCC and pathfinder
  • Practitioners discuss the forum with parents/carers of the children they are working with
  • Providing they consent to contact, First Class Legacy then follow up and give more information.
  • Sessions are based around what the parents want to talk about and what they are willing to share with each other. There is usually a loose structure supplied by either First Class Legacy or the YOS to stimulate discussion but the emphasis is on peer support and being led by those present.
  • YOS staff attend in small numbers to build relationships, and external agencies may sometimes use the forum to answer particular questions or talk to parents directly.
  • Previous to COVID-19 pandemic, the meetings were held in community spaces, and in particular a dessert bar.



Contact Details:

Youth offending team: Sandwell Youth offending service
Name: Michael Botham
Partner organisation: First Class Legacy