Host Family volunteers can have a powerful impact in the lives of struggling families, especially when the family needing the help don’t have a network of family and friends that they can turn to.
Host Families open their home to children while the child’s parents/carers resolve short-term crises.
Host Families will generally be ‘empty-nesters’ with grown up children, or families with their own children still around the house – but with a room to spare. Host Family volunteers will almost always be people who have lots of experience of parenting that they can lean on.
Some host families are also willing to get alongside the parents/carers to offer ongoing relational support, whether in practical ways or as moral support, something that is encouraged by SFFC.
Once approved, Host Family volunteers will be notified of families in need of support by email or text message, in accordance with your preferences. You will have the option to tell us how many children you feel able to support, the preferred age range and gender of children you are able to accommodate, as well as when you are available to volunteer. This gives you complete flexibility to control how and when you are contacted by SFFC.
Our Host Families tell us that they find the experience very rewarding, and the families being helped often describe the provision of the hosting as a lifeline.
By becoming a Family Friend, you can assist parents/carers to increase the stability of their lives, their home environment and their parenting, in order to to improve the wellbeing of their children. The family friend role is very flexible and enables you to offer support according to your skills, interests and availability.
Responsibilities of a Family Friend may include, but are not limited to:
– Moral support and encouragement to parents/carers in difficulty.
– Parenting support and development of parenting strengths for struggling parents/carers
– Babysitting, transport and other practical help either in direct contact with the parents/carers in difficulty or as support for host families.
– Sharing helpful information about parenting or supporting parents/carers in accessing services that they need
– Advocating with/for families if they need help voicing their concerns or needs to other agencies.
Becoming a Family Friend requires a level of screening and training, but you will be assisted through the process.
A family in crisis cannot always provide everything their child needs and may lack the support of family and friends. The stress of their situation can lead to depression, untreated ill-health, chaotic lifestyle choices and child neglect, making it impossible for families to break the cycle of difficulty. But when families in need receive support from caring people, change is possible. With Safe Families for Children (SFFC), such a relationship begins with your help.
SFFC is founded on a network of volunteers willing to support parents/carers in caring for their children.
For those who wish to contribute to making a difference, but are unavailable or unable to be a Host Family looking after a child or a Family Friend getting alongside parents/carers, SFFC provides a number of opportunities to offer other resources and skills.
A Resource Friend does not have contact with the family in crisis but demonstrates their compassion through donating much needed resources; from cots, toys, nappies, furniture or clothing, through to kitchen appliances, food and pots of paint! All of these items and more can be linked to families desperately in need using our online SFFC database. Donations will also be used to support host families who are looking after children but do not have the necessary equipment or resources.
Alternatively, you may have skills such as gardening or cleaning which could be very significant for families in reducing their stress. Resource Friends also have the option to offer these skills to help improve a family’s ability to overcome a crisis. Please remember, it is not only the families we help in need of resources; our Host Family volunteers may need a stair gate or car seat to help care for a child and Resource Friends can make the difference to ensure this support is possible.
Family Coach volunteers play a crucial role within Safe Families for Children (SFFC), as they bring a wealth of care, compassion and experience to help facilitate the support provided to families in crisis. The role of the Family Coach is to ensure the smooth arranging of, and progress through, SFFC involvement for a family. The Family Coach supports and oversees the help a Host Family or Family Friend gives to children and parents/carers, ensuring that it is working in the best interests of each child. The Family Coach also supports the parents/carers, connecting them with needed services or resources both within SFFC and in the wider community.
A Family Coach will facilitate the initial contact between families and volunteers and will maintain contact throughout the support process to ensure everyone involved has a friend close by. This network provides reassurance for everyone involved with SFFC and offers the ability to quickly change support arrangements, should circumstances change for volunteers or families.
A Family Coach may be an experienced volunteer of SFFC, or have a background in social care and support. Becoming a Family Coach allows you to make a significant contribution to the movement.
Donations to Safe Families for Children help in many ways, including the ability to contribute much needed goods to families in crisis.