Family Matters launched in 2015 in partnership with the Connecting Families Team and BANES Council and in response to the national Troubled Families programme. The aim of the programme is to work alongside local families experiencing a range of complex needs, supporting them toward independence and meaningful contribution to society. Government key workers assist families for an initial period of ten months, at which point Family Matters’ volunteers step in to ensure that progress continues and people get the long-term help they need.
Committed to a user-led approach, Family Matters works with families to facilitate change and encourage self-development. Volunteers meet with families for up to two hours a week, for a minimum of six months and assist with a range of activities from healthy cooking, reading with children, to budgeting. Most recently, volunteers have worked with families who have come to Bath under the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme. Once housed, Family Matters supports individuals with a number of tasks such as enrolling on language courses, integrating into local culture and community, filling in forms and booking medical appointments.
“We are keen not to create a system of dependency. We have made great progress with most of the families we have been supporting and our hope is to work ourselves out of a job!” – Joy, Family Matters founder.
“Some of the achievements we have seen over the past three years include families making independent decisions, becoming free of debt, solving educational problems with their children, and improving their physical health. One father has even started growing his own food. Once confidence builds in one area you start to see people feeling confident with everything else.”
The challenges to providing help are rooted in people being reluctant to engage. “What the volunteers and I have learnt is that supporting people in complex situations demands that you meet them where they’re at, with no judgement. Sometimes providing a listening ear is enough.”
Last year (2017-18), Family Matters helped 13 families make positive changes in their lives.
Find out more about what we’ve achieved this year in our latest Annual Report snapshot.