The Family Works was initially set up by St. John’s Church in Owlerton, Sheffield. The church has a long history of working with families in the community, and during lockdown, began to see increasing complexity in the needs that families were presenting.
The Family Works project provides professional, focussed, transformational support for any family experiencing difficulties. These may include special educational needs, disability, financial difficulties, domestic abuse, relationship breakdown, social isolation, mental health challenges and addiction.
Each family is offered a volunteer family mentor from a local church who will meet with them once a week for up to a year, primarily to listen and offer support. Families are also offered a professional Link Worker who supports the family alongside any other professionals or agencies involved. The project works in a “trauma-informed” way, which means that there is a focus on hearing and holding the family’s entire story and offering help that takes into account the challenges the family is already managing.
Our funding will allow the project to employ more Link Workers across a three-year period, with hopes that the project will be supporting 90 families through the programme by the end of the funding term. The Family Works began in Sheffield, but is already developing links in Rotherham. The Trust funding will see the project grow across the South Yorkshire region, which is broadly the area covered by the Diocese of Sheffield.
Patrons of the project are the Rt. Rev. Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield and the Rt. Rev. Sophie Jelley, Bishop of Doncaster. Bishops Pete and Sophie said: “Our vision as a Diocese states that we aim for Christians to be agents of transformation in the wider communities we serve. As we recognise that every person is equally and infinitely valued and that we belong to one another, we can already see that The Family Works Project is enabling the church to bring such transformation.”
Programme Co-ordinator for The Family Works, Andrea Liversidge, said: “We are thrilled that this grant will empower us to build relationships with more families across South Yorkshire, helping us to meet them at their point of need, journeying alongside them with hope and love.”
Oversight Minister for St. John’s Owlerton, Rev. Joy French said: “We are so delighted to have received this funding from Benefact Trust. We are passionate about The Family Works and have seen first-hand that this way of supporting families makes an enormous difference to people’s lives. We are praying that this work will have an impact not just now, but for generations to come, as whole families are supported to flourish and thrive. This funding will enable many more families to receive our support”
Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, Usman Saeed, said: “It is a privilege to support The Family Works and help them to reach up to 90 families over the next three years with growth specifically across South Yorkshire. Given the current economic, social, and political climate, many families are struggling like never before and will truly benefit from bespoke, trauma-informed support.”