I first heard about Safe Families for Children in 2013 at a presentation at my church. It offered a fantastic opportunity to reach out to families in difficulty, not just with practical support but with the love of Christ within the framework of a Christian organisation. My husband and I both felt this was an opportunity not to be missed and we wanted to be involved from the start.
Over the past two years we have hosted a child on a regular basis. I also started to work as a Family Coach, introducing volunteers to families, coordinating the relationship and providing support and encouragement. I have attended CAF meetings, accessed information and advice from groups such as Shelter and supported a family through a difficult series of events at school, all of which has been challenging at times but also extremely satisfying and interesting.
As a Family Coach I also really enjoy the contact with the volunteers. It’s a pleasure to see a relationship grow between volunteer and family and to see positive change result in a family’s circumstances. One very young mum without any family in the Northeast wanted support and advice on how to be a good mum to her little boy. Her volunteer was able to provide this by wholeheartedly welcoming them into her home and family, going on days out with their children together and also by taking them along to church where they experienced another great welcome into an even bigger family!
Volunteering with Safe Families offers the privilege of being allowed into another family’s life at a time when they are struggling and at their most vulnerable. It can sometimes feel scary and out of your comfort zone but these families would like someone to reach out and help them often in the simplest of ways, a listening and sympathetic ear, another pair of hands for a while, the benefit of experience to suggest a common sense solution, a short break from the hard situation in which they find themselves, an encouraging word to build them up.
Safe Families for Children offers an opportunity to Christians to do this within the framework of a supportive, careful and caring organisation. I have attended some very interesting and informative training sessions and there is always someone around to give advice and guidance. There is much to learn about how we can better equip ourselves to effectively help others but at the bottom line it’s about being face to face with another person and talking about how you can help to get them through this difficult patch!