Unique partnership helps
forge stronger family links

FAMILY Resource Centres in the city have pulled off a Kilkenny first by developing a unique partnership between statutory, voluntary and other family support groups to create a support programme for families running over 14 weeks.

FAMILY Resource Centres in the city have pulled off a Kilkenny first by developing a unique partnership between statutory, voluntary and other family support groups to create a support programme for families running over 14 weeks.

Newpark Close FRC is currently hosting the second pilot initiative of the Strengthening Families Programme. More than fifty members of ten families from local and City communities have being spending one night a week with all members of their families from infants to teenagers to develop skills to help strengthen all their family relations and communications.

The programme, while running in many countries across the world and rated as one of the most successful of its kind is relatively new to Ireland. 14 city agencies from youth services to HSE Social Work teams have sent members to train as facilitators with the family centres and the long term hopes is that the HSE and other agencies will continue the unique partnership developed through the pilot to roll out the programme across the County.

Manager of Newpark Close FRC Sheila Donnelly said this is a great programme but it takes a lot of staff and resources to run over fourteen weeks. Central to the programme is a sit down meal for all family members that takes pressure off families and encourages young and old to make it a family evening and encourages full attendance.

‘We would like to thank all of the many agencies who donated staff or services to help us run the programmes this year and in the Fr. McGrath Centre last year with very special thanks to the HSE, the Co. Council and Leader Partner for helping us meet some of the many costs associated with it,’ said Shelia.

Stephen Murphy, Manager of the Fr. McGrath Centre joined Sheila in thanking the many agencies who made invaluable contributions of staff time and other resources. Stephen claimed the programme was one of the most effective family programmes he had ever come across and every family who have taken part claim it had lead to major positive changes in their households. He said: ‘Any family in Ireland doing this programme will come out of it stronger and better skilled to deal with the issues that all parents face at some time or other. This is a programme we hope that the many other agencies working with us can help us find a way to make it available to many more families in the city and county.’

The family centres presented certs to qualifying trainers at Newpark Close Centre this week who are now equipped to help run the programme in other city and county areas. Agencies that sent staff or volunteers to train as facilitators including the two Family Centres were - HSE Childcare, Public Health and Social Work Teams, Kilkenny Co. Council, Foroige, Ossory Youth, School Completion Programme, Carlow Youth Services, Focus Ireland, Bernardos, South East Family Support Network, Ormonde College, County Childcare Committee and Kilkenny Drug and Addiction Counselling Services.