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Introduction

Enabling communities to support struggling families

Enabling communities to support struggling families

The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many disadvantaged families into greater poverty; other families have been left vulnerable through redundancy, business closures and furlough. Spurgeons Together for Families project and Children’s and Family Centres have enabled community groups to safely provide practical help to vulnerable children and their families in their locality.

”The situation has promoted extremes of poverty,” says Ruth Brooks-Martin, Together for Families worker in Wiltshire. ”Some people are at home working, but not spending as much as they did, and those people really do want to support those in greatest need at a time of greatest need. Spurgeons services in Wiltshire have provided a conduit for their generosity.

”So last Christmas, our Children’s Centres identified the most vulnerable of the families they were working with. Ruth Orman from the Together for Families team put together an Amazon Wish List of toys that we knew they would love, including toys for children under two which are often in short supply in years when we have toy collections.

”Myself and Together for Families colleagues distributed the list to churches and promoted it on social media, inviting people to buy items from the list and have them delivered to a Children’s Centre.

Ruth continues, ”In South Wiltshire, Louise Howard, the founder of the Great Big Salisbury Christmas Toy Appeal, heard about the campaign after the local radio station picked up on it. She bought every toy on the South Wiltshire wish list and donated extra toys too!

”She also provided stairgates – they are expensive new, but low-income families could not buy them second hand as they often do, because car boots and charity shops were shut.”

Family Support Workers safely delivered these very welcome Christmas gifts to the most disadvantaged children.

In addition, the Trussell Trust donated 30 food boxes, and £500 in donations paid for further food boxes to be made up for delivery to families in need.

Ruth says, ”We’ve also continued to offer second-hand baby clothes to low income parents through our Baby Bundles schemes, through doorstep collections and deliveries.

”One family was referred to us by a local agency as they had no recourse to public funds and so weren’t eligible for many forms of support the baby was due in December and they would have had to go into debt to buy essentials for the baby. But local people have been marvellous! One lady donated a brand new John Lewis cot and some clothes, others donated a bouncy mat and play gym. It was enough to support the new mother for the next six months. To say she was profusely grateful is an understatement!”

Thank you to everyone who supported this initiative – it really has been a lifeline, and another wonderful example of what good we can do when we all work together.

Together for Families worker, Ruth Brooks-Martin

About Spurgeons’ Together for Families:

Our Together for Families programme puts dedicated staff within our children’s centres to encourage local churches in their community to work with children, young people and their families. The teams also link parents with more specialist family support to help them with physical or mental health issues, debt, financial hardship or employment problems.

To learn more about the Together for Families Service, click here.