A Poverty Demographic Report from Aberdeen City Council showed that 21.8 per cent of youngsters in Aberdeen City have been judged to be living in poverty, with 21% of children in Scotland living in marginal, low or very low food security.


Aberdeen City-based charity Befriend a Child recognised that many of the families of their befriended children could often do with extra support and therefore launched their Family Support Project in 2022. The project has supported 31 families to date and currently supports 13 families, of which 84% are lone parents.


Louise Coleman joined the team as Family Support Co-ordinator in June 2022, to lead the vital service. Louise said: “Our Family Support Project comes in many forms just like the families we support, what impacts one family may not the next. By offering families a non-judgemental listening ear we hope to provide them with an opportunity to be heard and guided towards support and services that can enable them to have their needs met.”


Louise works alongside parents and carers, who have children being befriended or mentored, to identify areas where they would benefit from extra support. These can range from information on local food banks, support during multi-agency meetings or advice and guidance on finance and benefits.


Louise also supports families who are on growing waitlists for many different services. With wait times for Advocacy going from 8 weeks to up to 16 weeks and families waiting up to 18 months for a CAHMS appointment, Louise is the crutch for families until they have accessed these vital services.


Another vital part of the service is the organisation's care packages which are provided to identified families experiencing financial hardship during the colder months of October to March.


The charity hopes that the packages may go some way to prevent families from having to take credit and put themselves into further debt during the winter season.


Louise continued: “Often families can feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, and it helps to have time and someone to help them work through their challenges one at a time. The Family Support service builds on the befriending support offered to the child by offering wrap around support. The hope is that the families have a greater chance of achieving their full potential.”

If you would like to find out more about Befriend a Child’s Family Support Project or any of their other services, visit https://www.befriendachild.org.uk/