Press release

£11 million to fund new online and telephone family support services

Family organisations, including Relate, Netmums and Gingerbread, will receive Government funding to deliver national online and telephone support services.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Family organisations, including Relate, Netmums and Gingerbread, will receive Government funding to deliver national online and telephone support services, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather announced today.

The Government is providing up to £11 million to eleven voluntary and community organisations to deliver the support. Specialist organisations including the Family Rights Group, Young Minds and Contact a Family are among those benefiting from the funding.

Families will benefit from a range of support including relationship advice, services tailored specifically for fathers, helping single parents get back to work, advice on education issues such as exclusions and information about benefits.

Families who need it can also get specialist support - such as parents of disabled children and those with special educational needs and parents whose children have mental health or behaviour problems.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

All parents need help and advice at some point to deal with the normal challenges of everyday family life. And some parents need more intensive support for the particular challenges they face. The organisations we are funding have a proven track record in supporting families and are trusted by parents. We know thousands of families want and use their services.

It’s the Government’s job to support mothers and fathers to be the best parents they can be, without interfering in family life. Online and telephone support will give them the help they need, when they need it, and in a way that works best for them.

Claire Tyler, Chief Executive of Relate, said:

Families are finding things really tough at the moment and they need support from organisations such as Relate to keep their heads above water. That’s why the funding from the Department for Education is so important to us and will allow Relate to offer free online help and advice to families who are struggling. For many parents out there, our live chat facility is a lifeline and thanks to the Department for Education we can ensure that for the next year, this service is free and accessible to everyone.

Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, said:

All mums and dads experience difficulties at some point, but knowing where to go for help can be tricky. With over two million mums using Netmums each month the funding for our online clinics and experts from charities such as Relate, CAB and Women’s Aid means that we are able to support thousands of families. It can be heartbreaking to read the experiences of mums who are struggling with relationships, finances, or the challenges of bringing up children, so it is fantastic that we are now able to support those who are most in need. The service also saves the NHS money overall, so it’s a very positive example of how the internet can re-shape public services for the benefit of everyone.

Fiona Weir, chief executive of single parent charity Gingerbread, said:

Gingerbread is delighted to receive this support from government to deliver our information and advice services, as we know how much parents value being able to access free advice from charities that they know and trust. Gingerbread has been working with single parents for nearly a hundred years and we are able to offer a tailored service that meets their needs. We welcome the opportunities presented by this funding to develop our services, in particular to create more interactive online tools to complement our expert telephone advice.

Notes for editors

  1. The family services were contracted following an open procurement exercise earlier in 2011. The total value of the contracts is: £10,988,363.

  2. All the services are online, and some include a telephone helpline.

  3. The family services are:

Coram Children’s Legal Centre provides advice on all aspects of family law and on some education issues such as exclusions.

Contact A Family advises the parents of disabled children and those with special educational needs.

Family Lives offers advice to parents on virtually any issue, both online and through its telephone helpline.

Family Matters Institute operates the DadTalk online advice and support service specifically for dads.

Family Rights Group provides advice to the parents of children on the edge of the social care system.

Gingerbread provides information and advice to single parents on a wide range of issues, including benefits, both online and through a telephone helpline.

Netmums is a well-known social networking site that employs specialists such as health visitors in its forums to offer general and one-to-one advice.

One Plus One operates the Couple Connection and the Parent Connection webservices to help parents work through their relationship issues together.

Relate offers one-to-one online counselling for parents with specialist therapeutic counsellors.

Single Parents Action Network supports single parents online through specific issues for single parents, including getting back to work.

Young Minds provides advice and counselling to the parents of children with mental health or behaviour problems.

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Published 21 October 2011