Generous commitment to our SafeBase Parenting Programme by two adoptive parents

SafeBase Parenting Programme logo

St Andrew’s Children’s Society has been delivering the SafeBase Parenting Programme since 2010. This programme was developed in England by After Adoption with support from the founder of the Timpson’s Store Group, Sir John Timpson and his wife Lady Alex Timpson. Their commitment to the well-being of vulnerable children came from their own experience as a family, of fostering children and adopting two of their sons.

What is SafeBase?

SafeBase is a therapeutic programme for foster carers and parents of adopted children who have attachment difficulties. The programme works on the premise that children with an attachment disorder have not developed the psychological building blocks that should be laid down during the first 18 months of life. The SafeBase approach is that these can still be developed later in life through the correct stimulation that a child receives through play with their adoptive parent.

What are the benefits of the SafeBase Parenting Programme?

After Adoption was looking for a partner agency in Scotland to provide this training for adoptive parents. St Andrew’s Children’s Society was keen to get involved in this because we could see that many of our families needed that extra help to understand their children better and to help them improve their mental health.

In 2017 St Andrew’s Children’s Society commissioned research to quantify the effectiveness of the SafeBase Parenting Programme. The findings were that the impact of SafeBase was evident in four main areas:

1. Levels of adopter’s knowledge and understanding of their child’s behaviour and their emotional health was increased;

2. this helped them to change approaches or responses to their child’s difficult behaviours, giving them practical ideas to make that change easier;

3. as a result of the changes they made in their responses most adopters reported sustained improvements in their child’s behaviour patterns, with fewer tantrums, less aggressive behaviour and an increase in trust between parent and child;

4. and all of this led to changes in relationships resulting in the adopter’s ability to cope better with difficult situations, better family dynamics and improved relationships with wider family and friends.

The Gallo Trust and The Alex Timpson Trust

In 2021 we were approached by one of our adopters, Anita Gallo, who wanted to offer help to other adopters who needed support with their children. Following the death of her father, she and her mother wanted to use some of the money he had made during his life to benefit adopted children. They set up the Gallo Trust and committed £24,000 to finance the SafeBase Programme for 2022/23. In December 2022, Sir John Timpson agreed to match this funding for 2023 to maintain and expand St Andrew’s Children’s Society’s commitment to this work with a grant from the Trust he established in his wife’s name, The Alex Timpson Trust.

We launched our revised SafeBase Parenting Programme in 2022. As a result of the above funding, we plan to make it as accessible to adopters and foster carers as possible with participation not dependent on securing funding.

SafeBase in School programme

We have also developed a SafeBase in School programme for teachers and other school staff that has been used in schools from East Lothian to Moray. One of the problems some families experienced was that their geographical remoteness made travelling to Aberdeen or Edinburgh very difficult and so we have also developed a form of SafeBase to be used with individual families in their homes and we hope that the Gallo Trust and The Alex Timpson Trust grant funding will allow us to make this more widely available.

Find out more…

If you are an adopter or foster carer who thinks that this support to your parenting could help you in your relationship with your child, then don’t hesitate to contact us on 0131 454 3370 or email


Stephen Small