VOLUNTEERS will help Southampton City Council to help struggling families in the city.
Charity Safe Families for Children UK has announced a new partnership which will see its volunteers working with families and children in the city.
The move comes with the council set to cut its education and children’s services budget by almost £1m.
Council leader Simon Letts has said the move will cost the authority £60,000 but could save money in the future if less children are taken into care.
Safe Families already works with 20 councils and 418 churches across the UK to look after more than 1,400 children.
Set up by entrepreneur Sir Peter Vardy, it aims to provide early intervention to help families so problems don’t escalate.
It is now looking to recruit new volunteers in and around Southampton to work with families in the city.
Some will provide accommodation for children for up to a fortnight, while others offer advice and support to parents experiencing problems.
More volunteers will be on hand to help out families with goods and services they need.
A new pilot scheme will start in October, when the council will begin to refer children to the charity.
Sir Peter Vardy said: “Statistics about children in care always make depressing reading. Young people who have been in care are less likely to do well in school and they’re more likely to end up in the prison system.
“But we firmly believe that by intervening early, as soon as a family starts to have problems, we can prevent the situation from escalating to the point that a child has to go into care.”
Keith Danby, the charity’s chief executive, added: “Safe Families’ focus is on providing a community-based solution to a community-based problem, using volunteers from that community, to work alongside vulnerable families.”
Cllr Letts said: “One of our priorities as a council is to give children the best start in life. Research shows that this early intervention and respite within a family environment can prevent crises further down the line.
“Under the terms of the grant, the council will be expecting the pilot project to recruit several hundred volunteers and to have supported up to 50 families.
“This will be a new type of intervention for Southampton families. “Safe Families for Children and the council will be working with families with a least one child under 10 and will provide up to six months of support. The council will closely monitor how the grant is used and outcomes achieved.”
The charity has received grants from Sainsbury’s Family Charitable Trusts and Highfield Church to set up the new scheme, while the scheme has been supported by the Bishop of Southampton, Jonathan Frost.
Source: Daily Echo