Re: Winter 2013/14 - Page 28

Giving families a Chance With many families struggling to cope in a tough economic climate, it is thanks to the pioneering work of one charity, Family Support Work (FSW), that many Sussex families are receiving some much needed hope. “The Charity started in 1890 as a welfare service for fallen women,” explains charity director Maggie Simons. “It then became an adoption agency, before becoming a fully fledged family support work charity.” The main focus is on working out in the community. This is done by a highlyexperienced team of social and play workers who work alongside around 250 families a year. Families are often referred to FSW through schools, GPs and churches. “FSW deals with a huge variety cases in which families are facing all sorts of social challenges, including poverty, bereavement, unemployment, mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse. Our aim is to work with each family on a long term basis, something that statutory agencies cannot offer,” added Maggie. She said that as the country's financial troubles continue, no one is safe from problems and said people's situations change all the time. She said: “We had one lady whose husband was stung by a hornet and he had an allergic reaction and tragically died. His wife was left with a mortgage and bills to pay and we were able to give her support through what was a very difficult time.” 26 Indeed, FSW's confidential and free support is available to anyone who has the responsibility for the care of children, whether married, single, separated, partners, divorced, bereaved, grandparents and even carers. So what does the future hold? “The charity sector is extremely challenging at the moment, lots more organisations competing for the same grant funds,” explains Maggie, “which means we have to rely more heavily on fundraising events, donations and legacies. However our strength has always been about seeing what challenges people are facing and being there to help, whether it's giving them food (FSW gives out tons of food to families every year) long term support or respite holidays, as long as people need us we will endeavour to be there for them, there has been a lot of negative news in the press recently about charities only giving small percentages of their funds to the causes they are raising for, FSW prides itself on making sure every penny raised goes towards giving families a chance.” If you'd like to find out more about FSW Family Support Work, donate food, toys or volunteer please visit their website By Giles Paley-Phillips