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Introduction

Family hub provides holistic early years support

Photo of mother and child

Family hub provides holistic early years support

It’s vitally important that vulnerable children are properly supported from very early on. Statutory services are not always the answer, particularly for families with multiple and complex needs who may distrust agencies. In Ramsgate, our supporters have helped our Fegans services and a church to set up a Family Hub, equipping the community to support local families in need of a little extra help.

The Corner is a bright modern building that is home to Community Church Ramsgate and Buttons, a preschool operated by our Fegans service. It stands on the margin of two social housing estates where many families face a daily struggle with financial hardship, domestic abuse and other challenges.

Together, the church and Fegans are trying to create a positive community in which the children of these disadvantaged families can thrive. The church provides a coffee shop and soft play area and helps parents to access benefits and get on top of debt. Fegans runs Buttons preschool and offers parental support and counselling.

We get children “life ready”

Buttons’ manager Jane Williams says, ‘As well as having challenging backgrounds, many of the children have special educational needs (SEN), health problems and behavioural issues. They are already starting from a place of disadvantage but if we can give them a solid foundation of emotional wellbeing and resilience, longer term they’ll do much better academically.

Many preschools focus on getting children “school ready” but our priority is to get these little ones “life-ready”.’

Buttons uses Learning Through Play. The staff, who are qualified Early Years practitioners, are also trained in a variety of special needs skills. They come alongside each child to draw out the learning in the most appropriate way.

Genevieve, a parent whose children attended Buttons, says, ‘It’s a lot less structured than other preschools. The staff really got to know my children and what makes them tick. They didn’t do gendering with the toys – they were fine with my little boy pushing around a pink pram and with my daughter playing with soldiers and construction vehicles. The staff really treated them as individuals.’

Support for parents too

Every parent is also offered access to Fegans Parent Support Worker Jane Cekic. She says, ‘Some parents have themselves inherited poor mental health and parenting skills. The sooner we can support them, the better. The children will learn more easily and be less likely to inherit the same issues. We want parents to know they’re not on their own, that there are people who care for them and want them and their children to thrive. It’s wonderful when a parent has a ‘lightbulb’ moment’ and they understand something for the first time!’

Community volunteers

When Genevieve’s marriage ended, she went to Jane Cekic for support.

‘I was finding it hard to care for my children, keep a nice consistent home environment and run my own business. Going to Jane really helped; now I’m going to become a peer-to-peer volunteer, working alongside her to help other mums in similar situations. Women can find it hard sometimes to talk about their struggles, their relationships and parenting. I hope that by being honest about my own experiences, other mums from the preschool will know they’re not alone.’

Better prospects thanks to you!

Jane Williams says, ‘Most preschools wouldn’t take these children on because of the extra costs and risks. Certainly the state funding we get only covers the basics, but as a charity, our generous supporters enable us to provide the additional care. It can make all the difference to the children’s prospects. One little special needs boy came to us having to be peg fed (through a tube) and couldn’t walk. Now he’s walking and has started eating normally so he’ll be able to go to mainstream school instead of a special needs one. We are absolutely delighted for him!’

About Fegans Children’s Counselling Services

Fegans counsellors work one to one with children in our centres, online and in primary and secondary schools throughout the South East. 

We also provide parenting support for families with significant challenges such as supporting those with additional needs. We deliver much of this work through five town-wide family hubs in partnership with schools and our own preschool family hubs.

To learn more about our counselling services, click here.