PRESS RELEASE: Local charity finds new ways of supporting children and families

 In Media

Local charity Friends of the Family has been supporting children and families across the Winchester district for over 25 years. The current coronavirus lockdown means the charity is finding new ways of continuing its work supporting vulnerable and isolated families.

Colette Dunford is the Project Leader for the Mums and Young Children group which, prior to the lockdown, met twice a week. In order to continue to support the mums, Colette has done a Zoom course and will now be taking her mums group online to continue the therapy and counteract social isolation. The mums have also set up a WhatsApp group so that they can maintain contact with each other. Colette is also keeping in frequent contact with the volunteers, many of whom are elderly and live alone.

Sam Hunt heads up the 5s to 13s Befriending service whose trained volunteers befriend local children in need of support and friendship. As face-to-face visits are on hold, befrienders are implementing new ways of maintaining contact with the children including face time, emailing and regular phone calls.

Sam said: “We are so grateful to our volunteers who are making huge efforts to stay in touch with the children. One volunteer has sent magazines and games in the post to their focus child, whilst another is using Skype to continue the weekly French lessons she gives to her focus child.”

Sam is also sharing helpful tips and activities for children and families via WhatsApp and email.

Charlie Wright runs the charity’s Support for Dads service. Charlie counsels dads experiencing difficulties and runs the Dads Aloud project which enables dads to meet up one Saturday a month with their children. Although face-to-face counselling and Dads Aloud is on hold, Charlie is maintaining contact with dads via phone and text.

Friends of the Family’s Chair of Trustees, Karen Hazlitt, said: “The trustees are so impressed by the ingenuity of our staff and volunteers, keeping our projects working whilst observing social distancing. This ongoing contact is vital during this period when our families will be experiencing very difficult times. We are working hard to continue to support vulnerable families, to boost morale and to maintain the family ethos that is so vital to our work.”

Friends of the Family is encouraging its families, volunteers, supporters and referrers to stay in touch and to continue to contact the charity via email – – or call 01962 864466 and leave a message on the answer phone. They are also still keen to hear from new volunteers who are interested in joining their team. Please also keep an eye on the charity’s website – and Facebook page – fotfwinch – for regular updates.