First day back at my desk and its a sunny introduction to 2014. Reading around the field of family separation I see that not much has changed in the world, Relate have produced a report which tells us that a significant number of mothers do not believe their children need a father, F4J are busy reading the riot act on allegiance to the cause and Anthony Douglas is on TV tonight in a programme about adoption. Its the same old song. Pity they cannot find another one to sing.
2014 for us however, is the year of the new song, for 2014 sees the launch of our National Network for Separated Family Centres, an independent, community based network, which links together a number of projects who work in the whole family model that we have developed over a number of years. This Network is heralded by the launch of the Jersey Centre for Separated Families, a community based initiative which is run almost entirely by volunteers. The Centre will be launched by ex Children’s Minister Tim Loughton MP and will offer, for the first time on Jersey, a place where mothers AND fathers can go to obtain the help that they need to make their own arrangements for care and provision for their children. The Jersey Centre will be closely followed by centres on the mainland which will be launched later in 2014 and which will be linked up to our Family Separation Centre online Hub, which will cascade information, support, advice and information on all matters to do with coping and co-parenting after family separation. This is the work that we have always wanted to do and it offers, for us, a new way of reaching out to the families who need help. Independent of government and free at the point of access, this initiative allows us to do what we know needs to be done and as the sun shines brightly through the window on my first day back, I have a little spring in my step already at the thought of the possibilities to come in developing this.
Underpinning the delivery of our services will be our whole family, gender aware strategies that engage with the different needs of mothers and fathers. We don’t need fancy reports to tell us that some mothers don’t want the fathers of their children involved in family life and we don’t need the governments millions to make something like this work for families. What we need is what we have got, dedicated people who care about family life and who are prepared to put in the work for the pleasure of helping. For the small amount of start up funding required for each project to be up and running, we know we can help many families in local communities who never get the help which is promised when government makes money available to the charitable sector. This year, for the princely sum of £25,000, we will build, develop and deliver, five separated family centres and get help and support to hundreds of families as a result. Compare that to the 1.4million received by Relate to release reports telling us what we already know and you will understand why I am smiling. Freedom to do what we know is needed never felt so good. 2014 is going to be a good year.
Elsewhere in our work we are building research and evaluation into the issue of parental alienation and starting to make inroads into delivering training on our way of working to a wider audience. This is information to practitioners through the backdoor and its amazing just how many people who work in the family courts, want to know more about this difficult issue.
My New Year’s resolution this year is to focus only what is good and to build hope and inspire change by delivering what we know is needed and showing the world how things can be done differently. Its what we have done for many years but this year we are doing it entirely independently and away from the ghastly greed of the charitable sector that sits around government soaking up the funding whilst delivering the same old outcomes and singing the same old songs.
This year our song is different and the sunshine seems to herald bright new beginnings. Let the others squabble, fall out, fritter away the millions and tell us what we already know, in short, let them keep on doing what they have always done.
This year, we are doing something very different indeed.
Welcome to 2014!