The Family Haven was established in 1988 to help disadvantaged and vulnerable families in Gloucestershire to a brighter future.
The Family Haven is a small local charity based in Spa Road,Gloucester, which provides practical help and support to deprived and vulnerable families with pre-school children living in the County of Gloucestershire. Families living in B&B or unsuitable accommodation, those with mental health issues, victims of domestic violence and pre-school children with special or additional needs – they all receive practical and emotional support.
We work with the hard to reach sector of society, many of our families live in social isolation and feel excluded from the community. We positively engage with these families and help them to feel valued. By doing so they feel a sense of self worth and are more inclined to feel part of the community.
We promote understanding, tolerance and respect towards each other. Our services remain flexible, non-judgemental and confidential, providing equal opportunity to all. This helps build confidence and self esteem which in turn reduces the gap in health, poverty and social exclusion.
We provide a friendly environment where families can mix socially and support each other. We encourage ‘buddying’ where clients who are more able can offer support and understanding, as well as sharing some of their own experiences. This support goes on outside The Family Haven and forges friendships and support for the future. This gives the families a real feeling of belonging in the community.
Many of the families who first come to The Family Haven do not engage with services in the community. This is partly due to their chaotic lifestyles, lack of knowledge of services available and their feelings of exclusion. We aim to inform them of services and to help them to engage in these services. To do this we need to make them feel valued and worthwhile, to build their confidence and arm them with the tools needed to move forward.
Unlike other day care settings we work with the family as a whole, providing both practical and emotional support. We recognise the importance of the holistic approach to achieve our aim of improving the family’s emotional well being. Happy, confident, relaxed parents makes for happy, confident, relaxed children. We concentrate on building self esteem by focusing on the positives whilst working on areas needing improvement. We provide information, advice, advocacy, active listening, stress management, alternative therapies, and access to other agencies.
Occasionally our families have children on the child protection register, we work in partnership with relevant agencies supporting these families with the aim of improving the care of these vulnerable children.
Some of our families have fled from or are living with domestic violence, we advise them on coping strategies, ways of keeping themselves and their children safe. When the time is right we support them through the difficult transitional period from the abusive environment into their new life. We give the children a safe environment where we encourage them to express themselves without fear of reprisals.
In the nursery we set clear boundaries and have routines so that the children learn to conform. This is particularly important for the children who have behaviour/social difficulties.
Many of our families are from the black and minority ethnic communities. Some of these families do not have English as their first language. We promote integration amongst the parents and encourage them to attend language classes to improve their English. In the nursery the children need continual adult interaction to enable them to relate with their peers.
We support families in need during their various crisis by providing essential respite, enabling them to stay together as a unit.
We recognise that many of our young parents have had dysfunctional and chaotic backgrounds and may not have received good parenting themselves. We aim to improve parenting skills by providing good role models and encouraging strong attachments between mothers and babies. Also by holding parenting classes and information sessions, by showing parents how to interact with their children, by advising them on coping strategies to deal with difficult behaviour, by stressing the importance of pre-school education and by encouraging them to relate positively to their children.
Where parents require advice beyond the information we have available, they will be referred/sign-posted to another relevant service.
Our nursery staff are trained in disability awareness and inclusive play. We have a separate registration procedure for children with disabilities/special needs. We provide 1-1 interaction for these children as well as children who have additional educational needs due to chaotic lifestyles, poor parenting and emotional trauma.
We improve the physical health of our families by providing healthy daily meals, healthy eating workshops and food parcels (when necessary). Laundry and bathing facilities are available to help maintain the personal hygiene of families.
All The Family Haven’s services are heavily subsidised, therefore affordable for families on low incomes.
We also provide training opportunities, for teenagers with learning difficulties (Parallel options), those who have been excluded from mainstream education (Re-integration project) as well as those from local schools and colleges.