The Family Haven: The charity changing children’s lives in Gloucestershire

Helping vulnerable children and families across Gloucestershire, The Family Haven offers respite and practical support to help provide a brighter future to struggling families.

The Family Haven helps disadvantaged families in Gloucestershire
The Family Haven helps disadvantaged families in Gloucestershire

With an outstanding nursery on site, a chef led kitchen providing nutritious meals, and second-hand clothing always available, it’s easy to see why demand for The Family Haven’s services is so high.

Speaking to SoGlos, Debbie Nevin, Fundraiser at The Family Haven talks us through an average day at the Gloucester charity that’s changing lives through its essential work.

For more information, visit directly.

Can you explain what The Family Haven does?

The Family Haven is a day centre in the middle of Gloucester. We help families with children under five, who are in disadvantaged, vulnerable or isolated situations who need a bit of extra help and might not access mainstream services.

We have a nursery downstairs which is OFSTED registered with an outstanding rating. We’ve also got help available for parents upstairs, so we offer parenting workshops, personal development sessions, individual advice or help with filling out forms. We also offer a bit of respite for parents too if they’ve got appointments they need to attend, like counselling or housing appointments – so they don’t have to take the children along.

What does an average day look like for you?

We open to families from 9.30, but most arrive at 10am, which is when the nursery opens. It’s in the morning we find out what’s on the menu for the day too – every day we provide a hot and nutritious midday meal for both the children and parents, and that’s prepared by our cook Vicky.

The nursery team are always really busy. If they’re not actually looking after the children, they’ll be back up in the office filling out paperwork like the learning journey logs, and organising theme topics for them to cover throughout the year.

Is lunch an important part of the day at The Family Haven?

We’ve got our cook and healthy eating project supervisor Vicky, and when she gets in, she starts prepping vegetables and cooking throughout the morning, so you get all the lovely smells of home cooked dinner throughout the office!

We do things like roast dinners which are always really popular and curry is another popular one. Some days she’ll be cooking a meat dish, sometimes vegetarian, and then sometimes it can be more vegan to accommodate special dietary requirements. Catering for 20 adults and 20 children every day can be a lot of work!

Everyone eats at 12pm, and the children have to eat at the table together in the nursery, where they’re taught to use a knife and fork, and learn those skills they’ll need for when they start school.

And it’s not just the children who can learn skills?

That’s right. After lunch, Vicky also runs healthy eating workshops for children and adults. We try to do two of these sessions every week. Occasionally that’ll be how to cook a meal or baking with the children, or it could be a theory session on how to plan meals on a budget.

How does an afternoon at The Family Haven pan out?

That’s when we tend to run most of our parenting and development classes. Sometimes we collaborate with the team at The Venture in Gloucester’s White City, and they’ll come and do craft activities with the parents.

That’s great because it introduces parents to The Venture, which is a community based supervised play area and activity centre, so it gives them somewhere else to go if they need support.

When it comes to parenting classes, how do you ensure that assistance is getting to the right people?

The families that come to us have to register, and after an assessment, they tend to come on certain days per week, depending on their needs. Twice per year we have parenting skills workshops over five or six weeks, run by Lucy, our outreach family support worker.

We’ll cover things like getting ready for school, how much uniform to buy and forms that need filling in; we did one about child safety and keeping your private parts private, household budgeting, making time for yourself so you can look after others. It’s very varied.

We also run some topics several times throughout a month, so we can make sure everyone has access to the support they need.

If people want to help The Family Haven and support your work, how can they get involved?

There’s lots of ways really. Our nursery takes on students throughout the year who can do their work experience with us and volunteer in the nursery; we’ve also had couples in who are going through the adoption process so we can help them get experience too.

Our kitchen always needs help peeling vegetables and cleaning out the fridge, that sort of physical help.

People can also run fundraising events, like a coffee morning or an open garden and raise money for us. Any kind of donation is always fantastic. Next year’s budget is £238,000, so we need to raise that so we can keep supporting families in Gloucestershire.

For more information, visit directly .

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