Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Charity boost for recession-hit families

The government is giving an extra £3m to charities who offer help to families struggling to cope with the recession.

Couples counselling organisation Relate will receive £1m to provide face-to-face and telephone support to an extra 40,000 people.

Helpline Parentline Plus will receive £150,000 and other parenting groups which offer online support and debt counselling will also get a boost.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said some families were under "enormous strain".

He said it was particularly hard "when the main breadwinner loses their job or they are under threat of repossession".

"We won’t repeat the mistakes of the past and leave families to cope alone," Mr Balls said.

"That’s why we are doing all we can to give real help now to families and support them through the downturn."

‘Less heartache’

Relate says that 66% of its centres across the UK have seen an increase in demand due to the recession.

The organisation also says it is seeing more and more people in need of its help, but unable to afford the fees.

"There is no doubt that recession is hitting single parent families hard"
Miranda Yates, Gingerbread

The new funding will help tackle these challenges and to increase the counselling already offered via Sure Start children’s centres.

Claire Tyler, Relate’s chief executive, said: "Tens of thousands of people affected by the recession will be able to access Relate family and relationship counselling at a reduced rate this year.

"This vital investment now will mean families experience less heartache in the future."

Parentline Plus said the money would be used to increase promotion of its 24-hour helpline, which they believe is likely to lead to as many as 2,000 extra calls each month.

Chief executive Jeremy Todd said: "Whilst we work with thousands of families each year, we know that there are many more who are struggling, but don’t know about the free support services we provide.

"Being a parent can be tough at the best of times, but when you are worried about losing your house or job, even the happiest home can become a stressful place."

Gingerbread, which helps single parents, is one of a number of other charities who will receive some of the money.

It too plans to offer more workshop sessions through Sure Start centres to help families cope with separation.

Miranda Yates, from Gingerbread, said: "There is no doubt that recession is hitting single parent families hard.

"Sadly, many of the poorest single parents are struggling to stay financially afloat against a complex backdrop of family break-up and their children’s distress."

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation.

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