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3 Dec 2011

Good news for families in need

Reading Borough Council Press Release

Families in need are to benefit from £300,000 worth of extra investment over the next three years as part of a new and expanded Community Family Support Service for Reading.

The Community Family Support Service provides a valuable lifeline for vulnerable families who are struggling to cope due to circumstances. The service sees trusted volunteers go into family homes and provide parents with the skills and confidence they need to eventually help themselves and to turn their lives around.

In recognition of the vital role the Community Family Support plays in Reading, the Local Strategic Partnership has committed a new grant of £300,000 over the next three years to helping vulnerable families who would benefit from the service. Added to the £58,000 a year the service receives from Reading Borough Council, the total funding pot in this key area of work will be £474,000 over the next three years.

The additional money coincides with the re-tendering of the Community Family Support contract this year. A detailed selection process saw a successful 'bidders day' held on June 10, attended by around 50 different organisations. Following a detailed selection process, five organisations met the criteria set. Barnardo's has been selected as the preferred bidder.

The new service delivered by Barnardo's would cover the whole of Reading and is expected to increase the number of families seen by the service by 70%.

As one of two current providers of the Community Family Support Service in Reading, Barnardo's was selected as the preferred bidder for the following reasons:

" A strong ethos of empowering families, reducing dependency and encouraging families to support each other in the long term
" Use of an evidence based-programme which has a proven track record in Reading
" A promise to share their skills and expertise by training other organisations and professionals, which will benefit Reading families beyond the funding period

There are a number of reasons why families may need to access the Community Family Support Service in Reading. They can be parents who are experiencing depression, or who are struggling to cope with their children's behaviour for example.

Under the Barnardo's-run service, trained volunteers who visit these families aim to provide them with the skills and confidence they need to help them help themselves. Close-knit communities will eventually get to know and trust a number of experienced volunteers. It is hoped this approach will reduce dependency in the longer term and, in some cases, it is also hoped families who benefit from the service which eventually also be able to help out neighbours who are struggling with similar problems.

John Ennis, Reading's Lead Councillor for Education and Children's Services, said: 'Barnardo's has run a smaller version of the support service in Reading for the last 3 years and I know they have had lots of positive feedback from families in that time. As the additional money going into it shows, this is a vital area of work for the Council. I'm very much looking forward to working closely with Barnado's on a new expanded service which will look to benefit even more vulnerable families in our town.

'I'd also like to place on record my thanks to Home-Start for the huge difference they have made to vulnerable families in Reading over the many years they have helped to run this important service.'

A Decision Book on the proposed new Community Family Support Service is to be published on Friday December 2.

If the Decision Book is passed, it is proposed Barnardo's is expected to start the new contract quickly, given they already have a service in place in Reading. Expansion of that service will take place over the next few months. Home-Start staff will also be given the opportunity to transfer across to the Barnardo's service if they choose to.

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