Ipswich charity Family First recently marked a huge milestone, celebrating 100 family referrals since it began in 2014!
By matching a volunteer with a family for a year, this Christian charity helps parents and carers through challenges which they may have been unable to cope with alone. The volunteers work alongside the parents and carers to establish achievable goals, aiming to increase their confidence, social support networks and mental wellbeing.
Alongside this service, Family First also hosts Care for the Family’s DVD and discussion-based ‘Parentalk’ courses for primary and teenage years. Designed to give parents and carers greater confidence in their parenting ability, these course encourage learning together through talking and sharing.
Sarah Stapleton, Service Lead, is incredibly pleased that the charity is fulfilling its vision to see families that are resilient, thriving, and happy:
“I first joined the team as a volunteer and am delighted to have seen such rapid growth this year in particular, and the chance to offer support to so many families”
Volunteers meet weekly with each family and enjoy helping to find solutions to their challenges. Claire Stuart has volunteered with Family First for over two years and finds the role incredibly valuable:
“The families really look forward to the visits…I provide a listening ear and I’m giving them confidence and the chance to talk each week about their goals until one day they’ll be able to do it on their own.”
Referrals to the charity can be made by families themselves but most come through schools and other professional services such as Suffolk County Council Early Help Team. Dawn Squirrell, Pastoral Lead at Castle Hill Primary School describes the unique service offered by Family First:
‘It is fantastic to have an organisation like Family First available to help our parents with their emotional wellbeing and resilience. Several of our families have benefited from their advice and guidance. From a school’s perspective, we have been impressed with their professionalism as well as all the help they have offered our families.’
The team is looking forward to helping more families throughout 2020 and welcomes enquiries from families who feel they would benefit from their support or from anyone who could offer support through a volunteering role.