Why might you need a Family Friend?

Life today is full of pressures. Parenting is a challenging job and growing up in an inner city can be tough. Whether you're feeling low, vulnerable, unable to cope, confused about how to move forward or swamped by responsibilities, we can help. Our friendship is unconditional - all we ask of you is the wish to make changes for the better.

What do we offer?

Family Friends carefully recruits, trains and matches volunteers with parents, children or adolescents. Volunteers meet the family in their home, once a week for two hours. They offer long-term practical and emotional help based on each family's unique needs and potential. Volunteers pledge a minimum 6 month’s commitment and Family Friends' staff back up their work with on-going supervision and family feedback interviews.

Family Friends is an Approved Provider of The Mentoring & Befriending Foundation.

Why was Family Friends founded?

The charity was set up in 1993 by local resident Sheila Paget, the initiative coming from her work with boys in a Barnardo’s residential unit. Sheila realised that, in many cases, the boys would not have been placed in care if their families had more sources of help and support during difficult periods. Sheila’s vision was to create a personal, caring and committed organisation that would give long-term support to vulnerable families, thereby removing the need to place children in care.

Why is our service needed?

The kind of individual, flexible service we offer complements statutory services, which are often only able to provide time-limited interventions in response to crisis situations. Family Friends is able to offer a long-term commitment based on each family's unique needs and potential. We aim to facilitate positive changes in people's lives, but we do not have to achieve 'outcomes' within tight time constraints.

What have families gained?

In 20 years of service, we have assisted over 500 families. Many started using local facilities like nurseries and parenting groups. Several parents returned to education, went back to work or took up volunteering opportunities. Some even became representatives on local community programmes. Others improved their housing, and gained a healthier lifestyle for their family through taking up exercise and cooking nutritious food. Many children developed academically and made friends at school. Several improved behaviour and grew in confidence. Others joined community clubs and took up new interests and sports.

Our volunteers

Family Friends' volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and they are selected for their qualities of warmth, empathy and understanding. They use our training and their commitment and life experiences to become a supportive friend to a family. Our volunteers recognise the importance of confidentiality and trust. All volunteers are screened, police-checked, interviewed and trained. They are regularly supervised by the staff at Family Friends.

Click here to see Staff Vacancies