Save the Family provides a safe, supported community for homeless and troubled families where safeguarding is paramount.
It aims to keep families together and help them create a positive future.
Who We Are
Save the Family provides residential accommodation and support for Troubled Families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and who have multiple and complex needs. We are based outside Chester at Cotton Hall Farm, Cotton Edmunds with 32 self-contained residential units, a community hall, sports hall, training kitchen and a well-equipped Children’s Centre, including a Sensory Room. Almost half of our families are referred from within the Cheshire West and Chester area and others come from The Wirral, Merseyside, Warrington and even Manchester.
For some time, we have been in discussion with government (Breakthrough Britain 2015) about how best to provide help to the most troubled families in the UK. We are re-aligning our services by moving from costly intensive wrap-around services, which included care interventions and support that stakeholder agencies already provide such as cooking to a budget, back to a more effective basic regime, where we spend more time with the family, preparing them for independent living, by developing role-model family mentors and teaching basic life-skills, together with essential daily and weekly routines. We bring the family back together and prepare them for Multi-Agency support and move-on back into the community.
What We Do
Our charity strives to address the issues of:
- Homelessness - our families will be resident. We have support from our Housing Association partner, Hilldale Housing
- Family breakdown – whole family supported
- Domestic abuse – our families are in a supported environment, with safeguarding and general safety paramount. We offer support and training sessions in how to deal with abuse, by providing a link to relevant agencies and partners
- Alcohol & substance misuse – our families are mentored by staff, volunteers and peers to prevent relapse. Our Occupancy Licence reinforces compliance to agreed drug and substance misuse support programmes, with organisations such as the Cheshire & Wirral Partnership.
- Debt – our families are supported by mentors to effectively manage their finances. In particular, options explored and worked through with families are Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Debt Write-Offs. Support to deal with debt is of paramount importance to our mentoring approach and we advocate discussions with partners such as CAB, Money Advice Service and with creditors.
- Mental health – our mentors will provide a strong link to the agencies supporting those individuals with mental health issues. As well as NHS Mental Health services, we have links with partners, such as 1st Enable, Richmond Court, Rowlands Lodge.
- Child protection – our families receive support from our mentors, particularly in their relationships with social services
- Poor parenting – our parents receive support from our mentors to develop their parenting skills, ensuring that they and their children can practically learn and demonstrate these skills, whilst on-site. They also take accredited course modules with our partners, The Manchester College, which combined with other relevant modules lead to NVQ qualifications in specific subjects, chosen by the family members.
Our homeless families are below the radar of published statistics, with complex multiple issues, often due to family breakdown and domestic abuse where children are at risk of being taken into care. Issues include alcohol and substance misuse, domestic violence, debt, mental health, child protection and poor parenting. Our project will mentor and support the families and help them work with the relevant agencies.
The recent government troubled families' analysis highlights that these families need joined up holistic support, which we are able to facilitate. We also provide a residential base, to deliver support. With our help parents are often re-united with their children who had been in care.
Our mentoring approach, to gain the trust of families and prepare them for specialist support, has a better chance of tackling the intergenerational problems with these families.
Our service provision whilst extremely effective and much needed is costly and expensive to maintain. We fundraise as we know that family breakdown is increasing and is more difficult to address with the most vulnerable homeless families:
- 500,000+ children referred to social services in 2012-13 (NSPCC)
- 47% increase in child protection in last 5 years (Prof. Ray Jones 2014)
- 45% increase in “children in need” suffering abuse or neglect (Prof. Ray Jones 2014). Taking an increasing number of children into care is not the answer.
Our own research into what works with families has established that trust is the key to success with a family who has never trusted and empathy is a key requirement for staff.
Evidence from extensive research conducted by The Centre for Social Justice (Ref: Breakthrough Britain 2015) supports our “family fostering” approach, where Family and Peer Mentoring is what opens up our troubled families to further essential services. This type of support cannot be effectively provided in the community and our research has shown that with homeless families, our approach captures their needs and provides a necessary safety-net from which to nurture their relationships with statutory agencies.
Our approach enables our families to grow in a mentoring environment, with emphasis on key life skills, routines, independence and building self-esteem. It will allow us not to judge, but to encourage and not to just provide rules, but to provide realistic challenges and objectives.