A helping hand to support troubled families

Graham Alton, Chief Executive of Changing Futures North East.

Graham Alton, Chief Executive of Changing Futures North East.

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A Hartlepool project is stepping up its support for families facing separation and relationship problems.

Changing Futures North East is delivering it’s Hartlepool Healthy Relationships project, supported by a £1.5 million grant.

Hartlepool, like other areas, faces huge social and financial challenges, and limited money means that it can be difficult to support people early enough, before their problems get worse

Graham Alton

It’s chief executive Graham Alton has told how early intervention is stopping family problems from getting worse, and helping agencies to save money.

He said: “Hartlepool, like other areas, faces huge social and financial challenges, and limited money means that it can be difficult to support people early enough, before their problems get worse.

“This project is focused on helping agencies support the key relationships within families, so that families are better able to thrive without as much support from some agencies.

“This means money is saved by helping agencies that we hope can be re-invested into early help services.

“Our research tells us that if families are better supported to have healthier relationships, this can mean that both parents and children can do better in life.

“Our pioneering project is aiming to help improve people’s emotional wellbeing, school attendance, and help children’s services realise savings from some budgets of up to 10% after five years.”

The organisation was set up under its current guise in 2014, and used to be known as Headland Future before being given a rebrand and opening up to people across the region.

As well as ground-breaking work in their Healthy Relationships project, the organisation helps children and families to overcome challenges in their lives.

It also offers family mediation and other types of help under their Moving On project to separated couples, including mediation to help them avoid going through court.

The grant of £1.56m comes from the Early Action Neighbourhood Fund – a funding pot contributed to by the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

The organisation, based in Abbey Street on Hartlepool’s Headland, has 22 staff and more than 70 volunteers.

Graham added: “We get some funding from various organisations, but we do need more help. There are always opportunities for businesses and people in the community to get on board with us and help us with what we are aiming to achieve.”

The work carried out by Changing Futures North East was recognised in this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards, with the organisation being crowned as the winner in the Community category.