Keeping families strong

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A word from our Acting CEO, Brad Webb:

“Stronger Families, Stronger Communities”

This week is Families Week, a week to celebrate families in all their glorious diversity.

This year’s theme, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, highlights the critical role of families – in all their forms – as the central building block of our community.

Samaritans works with so many local families at various stages of their lives. Some have young children and they seek our community child care, others are reuniting after a family member is released from prison, some are grandparents raising their grandchildren.

One service at Samaritans that I think really encapsulates the idea of Stronger Families is our Brighter Futures program.

Brighter Futures works to build the resilience of vulnerable families with young children.

To mark Families Week, which starts today, I invited the Samaritans Brighter Futures team to share their experiences.

Two parents hold the hand of a child facing away from camera

The Jones* Family – supported in Brighter Futures

Jones Family: When we started with Brighter Futures it was a bit overwhelming, but it was our decision and we needed to get help to keep care of our son. We thought we were doing fine at the time, we were there – but we weren’t really ‘there’. We realised we were missing a connection with our son. We were under a lot of stress, homeless, surrounded by dangerous people, and being in debt from drugs. We thought parenting was a chore, but now we really enjoy and love being parents. We’ve come a long way and I would recommend the program to anyone. Thanks to the support we received from Samaritans, Eastlakes Family Support and the Whole Family Team, we’re a lot more confident in parenting, we work together as parents, and most of all we enjoy it.

Jones Family’s Case Manager, Jackson: The main thing that has helped this family is their openness and willingness to make positive change. They’ve worked really hard with us and other services to achieve their goals. It’s great that the family now has a house from the Department of Housing and have been there for over a year. It’s got everything they need and Dad, who is a keen gardener, has set up the back yard as a perfect space for their little boy.

 

Danielle, Case Manager, Samaritans

I think when families are well connected and have opportunities to participate in the community, they can, in turn, utilise their strengths to give back to the community.

I’ve been a Case Manager for over two years now. The roles I can undertake with any family vary – they include things like advocacy for emergency housing, attending school meetings, providing financial assistance and even facilitating a parenting program in the home.

I remember receiving a call recently from a mother who I had worked with in the past to let me know she and her children were managing really well after their time in the Brighter Futures program. Her children were happy, meeting their developmental milestones, and she had relocated closer to her family which strengthened her support network.

There are some challenges in this type of work but it’s a very rewarding role, seeing families become stronger together and thrive is fantastic.

 

Helena and family

Helena: My head was a mess. It was like I had a giant map and I had no idea where to go, what direction to choose, or what path to take.  Life was like I was a scrunched up bit of paper, but Brighter Futures helped me flatten it out. Our family are there for each other, we love each other for who we are. We have our ups and downs but there is no domestic violence, no harm for my boys and there is now peace in our home. That’s not like it used to be.

Helena’s Case Manager: What I love most about Helena’s family is that no matter what life presents to them, they all face it together and have each other’s back. When I met Helena, she was overwhelmed with the number of appointments and specialists for her youngest son with special needs and was struggling with the growing costs. She shared her story of extraordinary childhood trauma and how this impacted on her own mental health, and how her own health issues were impacted by daily pain. I know that life will continue to have its challenges, but I also know that this family has the grit and the love to face them all.

 

The Brighter Futures program is one of the many services at Samaritans that supports and strengthens families in our community. What I loved about hearing these stories is the absolute joy that the team and the families experience when they reach a milestone. From a dad’s garden for his son, to a mum’s freedom from violence, these stories are inspiring examples of Stronger Families, Stronger Communities.

 

*Name changed to protect the identity of the family