Funding blow for Norwich families’ charity

A Norfolk charity that provides help for families says it needs to diversify and think of different ways to generate income after funding from one of its key contracts has been reduced.

Norfolk and Norwich Families' House is based in Ber Street, Norwich. Among the services it offers is a supervised contact service usually ordered by the courts where children can visit family members in a neutral and comfortable environment.

Currently Families' House has a contract worth �68,000 a year with CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) for providing supervised contact but from next month this amount will go down to �40,000 per year.

This funding blow comes less than a year after a similar contract with Norfolk County Council worth about �44,000 ended.

Suzanne Bryant, director of Families' House, said the drop in funding will make a difference to the amount of families the centre can support through supervised contact, and that it may be that in the future Families' House will have to restrict the days it can offer the supervised contact service.

Currently Families' House operates as a family centre Monday to Friday and on alternate Saturdays.

'We have very positive feedback from all the families we support and it is a shame we will not be able to support as many families,' Mrs Bryant said.

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She stressed that the family support service part of Families' House - which includes things like parent support advisors who work in schools, school holiday activities and a parent support group - would not be directly affected by the drop in the funding from CAFCASS.

But she said it has put more pressure on the charity - which costs about �300,000 a year to run - to try and raise more funds.

She said the charity really appreciates the help it receives from businesses and the local community and urged more people to help support Families' House.

She also said it was increasingly important that Families' House looks at different ways to generate money and works on different projects.

She said Families' House already receives income from other organisations using the Families' House building and that the charity hoped to open this out to others.

She also said Families' House was in discussions with Norfolk County Council about doing more public law supervised contact provision.

In 2009/10 across all of its services Families' House supported 342 families with 739 children.

This included helping 59 families with 93 children through its private law supervised contact service and helping

46 families with 65 children through its public law supervised contact service.

• Anyone who would like to support Families' House or would like to rent a room in the charity's Ber Street building should contact Mrs Bryant or Sally Butler on 01603 621702.

For more information on Families' House visit www.familieshouse.org.uk

• Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Emma Knights on 01603 72428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk