An event intended to demystify Hillingdon’s social care services for parents under pressure in lockdown will take place tomorrow evening.

Hosted by social enterprise Brilliant Parents in partnership with the council, event attendees will hear from a range of panellist speakers involved with social care in the borough via webinar.

It comes as the group, which offers a range of parenting support classes, found that families whose children are at risk of exploitation are increasingly reluctant to seek help from local authorities.

Meave Darroux, chief executive officer of Brilliant Parents, said: “There's a lot of myths going around that social services are just there to take your children away.

“So, the aim of this event is to break down those myths and for parents to hear firsthand how to navigate the social care system within Hillingdon.”

While the event is free of charge and open to all, Darroux said there will be particular emphasis on Somali and African Caribbean communities, whose children are said to be at further risk of exploitation.

She added: “Exploitation can be anything from gangs, to sexual exploitation or other forms.”

Other panellists at the event include Julie Kelly, director of Service Delivery Children and Young People Services in Hillingdon, as well as barrister and TV personality Shaun Wallace.

The panel will also feature two anonymous parent speakers who have been through the system themselves.

By adding these voices to the conversation, Darroux hopes it will help bridge the gap between communities and the local authority.

She added: “It’s so they can see that we’re not there to take their children away or the council isn’t there to take their children away.”

Ultimately, the goal is to empower parents to be able to confidently navigate the social care system at a time where they may need to lean on it heavily.

Darroux concluded: “Society gives parents a bad rap at the best of times to be frank, and now they have even more pressures, whether it be housing issues, furlough issues, food shortage issues or anxiety about contracting the virus themselves or their children.

“What we’re trying to do is empower these parents so that they know how this system works, they know what to ask and the way to ask it and how to conduct themselves.

The event is being funded by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

You can register here.