What is Family Friends?
Family Friends is a registered charity set up in 1993 to support disadvantaged families. Through a network of trained volunteers we provide befriending and mentoring services. We help families living in Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and South East Brent. Through respect, encouragement and support, our mission is to ‘help families to help themselves’, in order that they can discover their strengths and build on their coping skills.
What services do we offer?
- Parent Befriending - for parents with a child or children under the age of 16 years. This service is available in Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and South East Brent.
- Child Mentoring - For children aged between 5 and 16 years. This service is available in Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham.
How do we work?
Family Friends carefully recruits, trains and matches volunteers with parents or children. 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 commitment of one year 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.
What difference do we make?
At final assessment over 95% of families report improvements as a result of the service, with 100% rating the service ‘Good’ to ‘Great’. Our outcomes show that we build confidence in parenting and parent/child relationships and that we reduce isolation. We promote emotional and physical health in families and improve access to health and community services. Our mentors introduce greater stability into children’s lives and give academic support. They also build aspirations and plan for economic improvements.
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.
The charity was set up 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.