Hartlepool Family Fun Club

June 2012

Underprivileged children and their parents are helping to shape the future of a volunteer-run community project set up by St Cuthberts parish in Hartlepool to support them.

St Cuthberts Family Fun Club was established at the end of last year with the help of St Cuthberts Care's rapidly-expanding PACE (Parish and Community Enablement) programme.

Since it first opened its doors, a number of families have been welcomed each fortnight to take part in a variety of activities and outings aimed at strengthening family bonds, improving parenting skills and helping them to connect with the local community – all while having great fun together.

When the volunteers recently took stock of the progress made so far and began to make plans for the future, parents and children attending the Family Fun Club were invited to contribute by giving their views, sharing their thoughts on what makes the club so special and suggesting ways to make it even better.

Among the many things getting the thumbs-up from both adults and children were the club's organised trips out, the fun activities and the baking and craft sessions. They also expressed how much they appreciated the time they were able to spend just getting to know each other or simply sitting and talking as a family.

Although activities have mainly been volunteer-led so far, there are now encouraging signs that families and individuals are gaining the confidence and skills to take a more active role.

As the club makes plans for its future, parents who once struggled to participate are now volunteering to lead some of the sessions and even making their own suggestions for new activities.

Both parents and children are gaining a better understanding of the need for structure in their lives, the need for rules and boundaries and accepting responsibility for their actions.

Head Teacher of St Cuthberts Primary School, Mary Frain who also volunteers at the Family Fun Club said, "When we first made plans to set up the Family Fun Club, we wanted it to be a place where people could learn to come together as a community to support parents and children and help them overcome any barriers they faced in their personal growth and development. Six months on we are delighted the club has had such a positive impact on the lives of those who attend and now that we are all pulling together, I have no doubt we will see the families and their relationship with the community continue to blossom."

St Cuthberts Family Fun Club is held every other Tuesday in St Cuthberts Parish Hall between 3.15pm and 4.45pm. Further information is available from Mary Frain on 01429 275040.