PRESS RELEASE: Friends of the Family welcomes the High Sheriff of Hampshire
The High Sheriff of Hampshire, Revd Sue Colman, visited Friends of the Family on 22nd July to meet trustees and staff and learn more about the charity’s work supporting children and families across the Winchester district.
The socially-distanced visit took place in the gardens of the Friends Meeting House, Winchester, where the charity is based. The High Sheriff was welcomed by Chair of Trustees Karen Hazlitt, Trustee Viv Wheeler, 5s to 13s Befriending Manager Sam Hunt and Volunteer Recruitment and Marketing Co-ordinator Lisa Travers.
Karen Hazlitt gave an insight into Friends of the Family’s unique services which deliver support to mums, dads and children, helping them overcome the challenges and difficulties they face.
Karen said: “Our initial project was set up over 25 years ago to offer support to mums with young children. Over the years we have expanded our services and now run an additional two projects, namely our 5s to 13s Befriending Service and Support for Dads. We are also thrilled to be able to offer free one-to-one counselling for parents who are already engaging with us, a service which is provided by volunteer counsellors.”
Sam Hunt talked about the role of the befriending service and the work of its volunteer befrienders who provide support and friendship to children aged between 5 and 13.
“Our volunteers are positive role models who provide a listening ear, support and encouragement to a child who might be struggling at school or face problems within the home. Volunteers take the children out on bike rides, nature walks and play games in the park. They also spend time chatting to the parents who may be struggling with mental health issues, and supporting them,” she said.
Praising the charity’s work, Revd Colman said: “Early intervention is crucial. With over 78,000 children currently in our care system, a number which has risen dramatically since lockdown according to Barnardos, enabling vulnerable families to stay together and flourish is ever more important. Friends of the Family, with proven wisdom and compassion, and a track record of excellent resources which they have developed, enable parents and children to flourish together. It is the sort of charity it would be great to be able to bottle up and replicate all over the place!”
Chair of trustees, Karen Hazlitt, said: “It was a great honour to meet the High Sheriff. I would like to thank her for her genuine interest in Friends of the Family and in the work we do in relation to early years intervention in children’s lives.”
Pictured (from L to R): 5s to 13s Befriending Manager Sam Hunt, High Sheriff Revd Sue Colman, Chair of Trustees Karen Hazlitt and Trustee Viv Wheeler.