Love and a life line

19th November 2019

Love Barrow Families CIC works with families who suffer from physical and mental health issues, relationship difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, unemployment and homelessness.

A grant of £30,000 over three years from the Cumbria Fund has stopped the building on Abbey Road, in Barrow, from closing. Keeping the centre open means these families have a safe haven with an open door to support them in their time of need.

Trina Robson, Director, said: “Without a base we would be unable to provide the sense of belonging that excluded and isolated families want and need. We have been able to continue to build on and develop community activities and use of the building by the wider community.”

Launched in 2013, Love Barrow Families was set up in partnership between Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Cumbria County Council to improve the way adult and child health and social care services work together to meet the complex needs of families in Barrow. It was co-produced with a small number of local families to capture feedback about families and frontline practitioners’ views of current services and to respond effectively to local need.

Love Barrow Families responds flexibly to individual family need and the intervention is different for each family but can consist of statutory work, bespoke packages of care to identify the child’s needs and the parents practical and emotional needs as well as therapeutic intervention by qualified therapist. Social activities include an after-school club, cooking workshops, timebank and fitness classes.

A recent, independent evaluation of Love Barrow Families, by a team at The University of Northumbria, evidenced its success in a number of areas including reduced numbers of children going into and returning to care, reduced numbers of children on Child Protection Plans, reduced levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, reduced numbers of exclusion and unauthorised absence, increases in community involvement and increases in employability and raised aspirations.

Through the project, families are supported consistently and without any judgment, to increase their sense of belonging in the community, leading to reduced isolation and raised aspirations. Each family has its own goals, which they work towards, and some of the families are now able to assist the project through developing community activities, sitting on the Board, and joining Love Barrow staff in presenting what the project does to other agencies and communities.

Trina continues: “Families have very quickly become settled here and most days are very busy with children and parents coming and going. Having the building has enabled us to develop several services such as setting up a residents group run by one of the dads who lives locally and supported by the borough council. The group has steadily grown in members and they also organise a regular litter pick. We also regularly run lunches for parents and children in our building which have been well attended over the summer holidays and we have run activities such as art and singing groups.”

Through its philosophy of co-production with families and partner agencies, Love Barrow Families has been truly designed by the families, for the families and is a lifeline for many people in the area.

Watch this short film for more information.