East Cumbria Family Support Association – Keeping families together

29th March 2018

Eden is the most deprived district in Cumbria in terms of geographical barriers to services and families living in the area have the longest travel times to key services in the county.

There are fewer opportunities for children and families living in rural and isolated communities, who are facing challenges as they try to make and sustain positive changes. East Cumbria Family Support Association (ECFSA) provides practical and emotional support to help families break through the issues and challenges they face to improve their quality of life.

Based on Mardale Road in Penrith, ECFSA works with families who are experiencing difficulties in their own homes through support workers and volunteers, as well as offering accredited parenting programmes, youth provision, one-to-one sessions and running the fortnightly Eden Contact Centre for absent parents.

The charity employs Family Support Co-ordinators who work with families and recruit volunteers to provide guidance and support to increase the emotional resilience of each family. A grant of £5,500 from the Cumbria Fund, Holehird Trust and Ullswater Grassroots Grants Fund contributed towards their costs.

A mother suffering with poor mental health was struggling to look after her 3-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. Through home visits, a Family Support Co-ordinator helped her identify what the children needed and how to tackle these issues. The mother said: “When all the agencies had gone, ECFSA are still with me and have told me that they are not going to leave until we are sure the time is right”.

Kellie Bradburn-Sims, Funding and Development Officer, said: “We can continue to help children and their families feel more confident and able to participate actively in their communities. They attend more social events; school attendance is much better and they feel like they actually belong in their communities.”

ECFSA has been running since 1993 and with the help of trained volunteers and family support workers delivered 3,420 hours of support in 2017, which includes respite with the children, attending appointments and helping with household tasks.