“I hadn’t learnt how to be a parent from my own Mum and needed some help with my baby.”

2nd July 2019

Imagine how frightening it is to be 18 years old and pregnant with no one to support you. Cumbria Family Support has been helping families break through the issues and challenges they face for 25 years.

A local 18 year old with a troubled childhood sought help when she was pregnant with her first baby. She worried about the future for herself and her child. Thanks to Cumbria Family Support, she now has 3 children who are flourishing.

 “I had no family support myself; I had always been the support for them. I hadn’t learnt how to be a parent from my own Mum and needed some help with my baby. At first, I was very nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I worried about whether I would be able to look after my baby. I worried that others would think I wouldn’t be able to because of my childhood. I soon realised that the support worker was coming to help me and not judge me. She supports me to make the right decisions, she gives me advice that she would give to her own children. She never gets bored listening to me and has helped me with my anxiety and got me out of the house. She helps me with appointments and the children love it when she comes and like to play with her.”

Cumbria Family Support helps families who are experiencing difficulties in their own homes. Recently moving into the Allerdale area, the charity has been delivering services to families in Carlisle and Eden for 25 years with the support of over £63,000 of grants from Cumbria Community Foundation. Support workers and trained volunteers provide tailor-made practical and emotional support. Other services include parenting programmes, youth clubs and individual and group work sessions. The charity also manages the Child Contact Centre in Carlisle.

The first grant was awarded in 2006 and again in 2009 to train more volunteers to help with parenting, respite and offer a listening ear. In 2011, the ‘Best Buddies’ project received a grant to work with children aged 5-11 to promote positive relationships and develop awareness of personal safety.

In 2016, a grant helped towards the cost of a support worker to provide emotional resilience work. JP, aged 7, lives with her mum and an older teenage sister. Following her father’s sudden death, the school nurse referred her for emotional support. JP’s feelings started affecting her school and social life. The support worker helped JP to process her feelings about her father and his death. She became more confident, less withdrawn and more able to engage in all that school has to offer.

Grants continue to support a more recent project called Empowering Children and Families. The project works with families to address emerging issues and prevent them from escalating. It aims to support 300 children through a team of 50 volunteers and support workers.

Pam Hutton, Chief Officer said: “We have had fantastic support from Cumbria Community Foundation. As for all charities, fundraising is an ongoing and challenging process. We are reliant on the good will of our fantastic volunteers and the grant making trusts that fund our work.”

The charity has more than 40 volunteers who befriend families, visiting them once a week. One volunteer said: “Some of the families have many professionals in and out of their lives. I am providing continuity to a family that has never had it before.”

Pam continues: “Volunteers are the heart of the organisation. They are recruited from the community and understand the local needs. Volunteers come from all walks of life. They could be a retired professional who has known us from their work or a young person wanting to gain experience in the care profession. Parents who have received our support have become volunteers because they know how our services helped them.”