£460k help for families

DOZENS of families struggling after parents parted ways will receive more support thanks to a £460,000 grant.

Hartlepool charity Headland Future has received the boost from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme.

Family breakdowns are said to play a role in causing poverty and lowering school grades, as well as poor mental and physical health.

A project by Headland Future, based in Abbey Street, aims to improve families’ financial and emotional circumstances during such times and prevent people falling into unemployment, substance abuse and criminality.

At least 400 parents and children will directly benefit from the latest funding, along with another 200 who will be supported by workers from other agencies trained by the project.

It will also see those who have been helped by the project trained as volunteers to support other parents.

Headland Future chief executive Graham Alton said: “We know that parents are often the best people to support each other, so this project will train parents to help other families in similar situations. It’s a really exciting opportunity for community members to take the lead in supporting each other.

“Big Lottery Fund grants are crucial to organisations like Headland Future. We’ve provided youth and family support services in Hartlepool for over 13 years and through working with and consulting local parents and children we’ve built up a good picture of some of the extra support families need.”

The award comes after a separate pilot project was run by the Family Separation Partnership, which includes Headland Future.

An independent evaluation found that out of the different approaches to working with separated families tried nationally, the Hartlepool model worked best.

The new four-year project, named Communities Together for Separated Families, will be delivered through the Family Separation Partnership.

A team of separation workers will offer practical and emotional support, with partner agencies offering children’s and couples counselling, debt advice, mediation, and family support and activities.

The project aims to train parent volunteers to help support other parents, and bring about lasting improvements in the way community and other organisations identify and support separated families.

John Robinson, parenting commissioner with Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “This new project will make a big difference to the kind of support we can give to families during a very difficult time.”