Providing a flexible service: a day in the life of a Hidden Harm Worker

At Insight Platform, in Haringey, we provide a free, friendly and confidential service for children, young people and families affected by substance misuse. insight-platform-logo-high-res

In January, Insight Platform launched 7 programmes of work as part of their partnership with Haringey Council and the Prince’s Trust on Northumberland Park Social Regeneration, under the Transformation Challenge Award (TCA).

Several of the TCA programmes focus on family work and ‘hidden harm’ – taking into account how a parent’s substance misuse impacts on a child.

So, what’s it like being a Hidden Harm Worker?

Chantelle, the Hidden Harm worker at Insight Platform, describes her role as ‘supporting families in recovery’. A Hidden Harm worker works with families through the process of recovery and beyond to support the child’s safety, emotional wellbeing and prevent intergenerational drug use.

Chantelle’s work includes parenting workshops and 1-2-1 interventions to engage parents and raise awareness and understanding of the impact of substance misuse on their families. She also works with children in schools to enhance safety and build resilience, and raises awareness of hidden harm with teachers and professionals.

It’s crucial to be flexible – “I adapt to suit the needs of the families I work with, so no two days are the same.

“We receive referrals to our service from a diverse range of agencies including adult substance misuse services – for example, if an adult is in treatment and has a child. We might also receive referrals through GPs or schools. A critical part of my role is to conduct holistic initial assessments to identify support and care needs and then deliver age appropriate 1:1 key work or group work at the service. Some of this work will involve me observing ‘family play’ time, and then bring what I’ve observed about the way that parents and children interact and communicate back to a key work session to talk it through, and work on enhancing parenting skills. We aren’t here to judge, but to empower families.


The Insight Platform staff

“I also run key work sessions in schools with children, and as part of the TCA programmes – we do age appropriate activities like games or worksheets to help children talk through their feelings. I try to be flexible as possible and respond to the needs of the child. Last week, I took a young girl I’m working with to the local park, because this is an activity she doesn’t often get to do with her parents. So we sat on the swing and did our 1:1 there – it was the perfect space to talk and unpack her experiences, and made her really happy. Working with children the way I do is so important as it acts to support their emotional wellbeing, and is a time to build their resilience, and ensure that their best interest and welfare is paramount.

“To raise awareness and understanding of the impact of drug and alcohol use, I find innovative ways to talk to parents about substances. I do outreach work with parents through coffee mornings at primary schools after parents have dropped their kids off, or at a support group for young mums – this will include drugs education and parenting workshops to discuss hidden harm in an engaging and non judgmental way . These events can also be useful for self-referral, or signposting. Recently, a woman who attended one of these sessions raised the fact that she was concerned about a cousin who was drinking, and the effect on their child. Because she knew about Insight Platform, she directed her cousin to us and we are now working with that family.

“I also run Hidden Harm training for professionals – teachers, social workers, and other professionals. I also work collaboratively with professionals, and attend various Child Protection Meetings and on multi-agency safeguarding panels. Fundamental to my role at Insight Platform is highlighting the wide-reaching effects of Hidden Harm. Everything we do at Insight Platform is geared towards achieving better and positives life outcomes for children, young people and their families.”

Insight Platform offer a free, friendly and confidential young people’s support service. We provide information, advice and help to children and young people up to the age of 21 in Haringey who are living with or affected by drug or alcohol issues.

Download Blenheim’s FAQs document for young people looking to find out more information for families and friends affected by substance misuse.

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