Families First St Andrews
Families First St Andrews (FFSA) was established in 2001. As a registered charity and community group, the organisation works alongside children and their families to overcome the personal challenges they face in life. By supporting these individuals they aim to; reduce isolation, develop self-esteem, improve social skills and relationships. FFSA offer one to one support for parents and carers, one to one befriending for children aged 5 to 12 and group work for young people to resolve issues and learn to work alongside others. Situated in St Andrews, FFSA operate across North-East Fife and support on average, 60 people every week.
Funding from the Essentia Foundation is helping to support FFSA’s ‘Family Support’ initiative. Grant monies are being used to build the capacity of the organisation’s Youth activities and expand the delivery of their children’s services. Over the duration of 2020 and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, FFSA noticed that there was a significant increase in the demand for support to vulnerable families and children and that the level of support needed by parents and carers was increasing. At the height of the pandemic and with volunteers unavailable, FFSA urgently needed additional staff to deliver this frontline service to children and families. Thanks to support from the Essentia Foundation, FFSA recruited a new temporary youth worker who was able to offer youth group and befriending services via zoom, social media and face to face delivery. On the work undertaken, this new member to the team has been able to forge important community links:
“I gained the trust of the young people and parents/guardians, communication and conversation became more consistent over time… I built relationships with the wider community – established venues to host Youth Group/Befriending sessions for inclement winter conditions; three successfully sourced in Cupar and St Andrews”.
Since the beginning of this project, 67 young people have now received support from the newly appointed youth worker. The success of the ‘Family Support’ initiative in 2020 has meant that FFSA have now been able to make their newly appointed youth worker, full time and permanent. Looking to the future, FFSA are excited to continue their work in the wider area and help children and families recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There’s nothing I didn’t like because FFSA is just amazing”. Robert* aged 15 years reports he is having Less stress and is able to talk to someone if he’s struggling
“I don’t know anything I didn’t like because I like everything about FF & the best bits have been speaking to everyone and getting to know them. & I’ve noticed that I can be myself without thinking people are judging me”. Sasha* aged 14 years.
“I can say there has never been a minute of families first that I didn’t enjoy I will truly miss everyone as I am leaving this year due to turning 16 in May but will definitely stay in touch”. Ewan* aged 15 years
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.