A couple have hailed a parenting programme which has helped change their lives.
Changing Futures North East, the family mediation and support charity, joined forces with Hartlepool Borough Council, Tavistock Relationships and the Belle Vue Centre to create the Healthy Relationships Partnership.
One of the first initiatives to come from the collaboration is Parents as Partners, which seeks to tackle the negative effects relationship strains have on parents and children.
The Office of National Statistics found more than 19,000 people in the North East are divorced or separated, with over 7,000 of those living in Hartlepool.
There are 4,000 lone-parent households in the town which contain dependent children. Rachel Elizabeth Thomas, 32, and Christopher Thomas, 30, from Hartlepool, completed Parents as Partners, which helped them from the brink of divorce.
They have been together for nine years, were married seven years ago and have seven children.
Rachel said: “I’d given up on parenting. I just couldn’t handle my life anymore, I was sick of fighting and Chris was working stupid hours at work.
“We had just got to that point where we thought we were done. Family life was chaotic, argumentative and I was so low I had no idea where to go to for help.”
Chris said: “At the beginning I just wasn’t bothered anymore. Towards the end of the program, I’d actually started thinking about things more and life is easier because of it.”
Rachel said: “Before we started we were constantly bickering. Our moods were so low, we couldn’t see any way out of feeling like that. I was depressed and wanted marriage counselling, I thought I was a bad parent.
“Now, I feel great. I appreciate my husband more. We share everything now and we communicate.”
Martin Todd, concluded: “Parents as Partners is a great programme and a really exciting opportunity for parents in Hartlepool.”
To find out more information about Parents as Partners, call 01429 891444.