Our history

Why was Friends of the Family founded?
Vulnerable young families need support in the early years of being a family. Concerned this wasn’t happening, our two co-founders – Ann Titman, a social worker, and Dorothy Richardson, a magistrate – started the charity in 1993 to provide the right help at the right time. They believed that earlier supportive intervention was key and so developed our Friends of the Family’s Mums and under 5s project.

Quotes - Winchester charity
  • “Our volunteer was a godsend to me and my son. She came to us just when we needed her most. Her support helped me regain my confidence both as a parent and as a person.”  

    Jenny, 5s to 13s mum

1993

Friends of the Family Winchester was founded, providing support to mums and pre-school children 

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Baby in hat

2009

5s to 13s befriending programme was established to support children aged 5 to 13 years

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siblings-1997454_1920-2

2010

Friends of the Family Winchester became a company limited by guarantee and started up a membership base

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Hands linked

2012

Support for dads was established, thanks to funding from Winchester City Councillors

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hiking-dads

2014

A Big Lottery Helping Communities Grant, providing five years of funding, was awarded to our 5s to 13s befriending programme

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Child blowing bubbles

2015

Our counselling service  was set up to address a growing need to provide additional support to parents already working with us

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Dad and child

Our services are needed

Parenting is a challenging job at best. Most families find family life stressful at some point. Others experience overwhelming difficulties and often feel they have nowhere to turn other than the range of established public sector services. The rise in profile and prevalence of mental health issues particularly demonstrates the importance of the role we play and the services we offer.

Mental health matters

As reported by the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014* published in September 2016, one in six adults (17%) in England meet the criteria for a common mental disorder.

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In a report by The Mental Health Taskforce to NHS England in February 2016**, “half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, rising to 75% by age of 24” and “one in ten children aged 5 -16 has a diagnosable problem.”

In our experience at Friends of the Family, however, the prominence of mental health issues in our families is much higher with approximately 94% of the adults and children who engage with our services, having had or are currently experiencing a mental health issue. These can include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, personality disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS also highlighted that “people living with mental health problems struggle to get the right help at the right time” and that “one adult in ten with severe symptoms who asked for a particular mental health treatment in the past 12 months didn’t receive it.” At Friends of the Family we pride ourselves on offering the appropriate support through our range of free services at a time when people need it most.

The impact we have

As a local, independent charity, we are uniquely positioned to adapt quickly and focus on the most challenged families in the area, providing non-judgmental and tailored support where it is needed. We listen, encourage and guide – with our support the quality of life for local families can improve.