Projects supporting Scottish families through the toughest of times, including conflict and relationship breakdown, are to expand their services thanks to over £1.5 million from the Big Lottery Fund.

Today’s total of £1,574,143 goes to five organisations supporting child contact centres in different parts of the country.

• Relationships Scotland Orkney
• Relationships Scotland Borders
• Relationships Scotland Family Mediation Tayside and Fife
• Family Mediation Argyll & Bute
• Family Mediation Central Scotland

Affiliated to Relationships Scotland, these local projects provide a network of support helping to guide families through change and disruption, particularly where this has occurred as a result of separation, divorce or family restructuring.

Big Lottery Fund, Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn said: “Each day many families across Scotland experience the trauma and distress of family breakdown. Today’s investment will provide additional support for parents, carers and children through family mediation which is vital in bringing families together to reduce conflict and agree on practical, workable arrangements for the future. While these projects are affiliated to Relationships Scotland, they each have their own unique priorities which are one of their biggest strengths. I am delighted to see this funding reaching into those local communities where it is needed most.”

Welcoming the news Stuart Valentine, Chief Executive of Relationships Scotland, said: “Relationships Scotland is delighted that the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland has provided £1.5m over five years to support child contact centres across the country. Child contact centres play a vital role in ensuring that children maintain their relationships with both parents following separation. This new money will help ensure that many of our more vulnerable families will receive new specialist support. This will include help for non-resident parents to establish and develop relationships with their children, often for the first time. Additional support will also be offered to help separated couples work together to care for their children, thereby providing the stability and security that will help enable their children to thrive.

Relationships Scotland Family Mediation Tayside and Fife has been awarded £504,682 to provide additional support to separated families through its five Child Contact Centres across Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross, and Fife. These centres provide neutral, child-friendly surroundings and are often the only appropriate location for a child to meet with a non-resident parent, or other family members. The award will enable the organisation to increase staff including a new specialist support worker.

Marta Muranyi, Manager, Relationships Scotland Family Mediation Tayside and Fife, said: “We are delighted to receive this five year grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Without their support, our service may not be in the position to continue to help the children and families of Tayside and Fife, in the form of Child Contact Centres. With this contribution from the Big Lottery Fund, our Centres in Arbroath, Dundee, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Perth can offer a safe, neutral, professional and child-friendly space to enable children to spend quality time and build valuable relationships with their non-resident parent or other family members.”

Family Mediation Argyll & Bute will also support separated families from their four contact centres in Oban, Dunoon, Lochgilphead and Helensburgh. The £190,254 award will be used to employ additional staff who will focus on early intervention support which can lessen the trauma and distress of family breakdown.

Tanya MacDougall, Service Manager, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding which will make a huge difference to families especially those living in rural/island areas. It will help us to support children in vulnerable child contact cases, to maintain positive relationships with both parents, encouraging parents to develop the skills required to parent apart. The service will offer local outreach provision to families ensuring early intervention lessening the trauma and distress of family break-down and thus reducing the risk of emotional damage to our children throughout Argyll & Bute.”
A five year award of £206,384 for Family Mediation Central Scotland will widen the support it offers from child contact centres in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire. They will provide targeted, in-depth support to families affected by separation and divorce, domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental ill-health, or parental conflict.

Linda Philliben, Chair of Family Mediation Central Scotland, said: “The timing of this award from the Big Lottery Fund could not have been more apt. In June, we will be celebrating 30 years of working with parents and children across the Forth Valley. So five years’ Lottery funding for our Contact Centre project is testament to the vital support for families that we continue to deliver.”

Relationships Scotland Orkney will expand its valuable work thanks to a grant of £429,910. Over the next five years 145 families affected by relationship difficulties, separation or divorce will benefit from a range of support from its base in Kirkwall and through outreach activity from its local child contact centres in Sanday, Stronsay, Hoy, Stromness and West Mainland.

Helen Moss, Service Manager, Relationships Scotland Orkney, said: ““We very much appreciate and welcome the Big Lottery’s decision to invest in our Family Connections project. This will ensure that many of the children and families in Orkney who are affected by relationship difficulties, separation and divorce will get the level of help and support they need to improve family relationships and children’s future wellbeing.”

Relationships Scotland Borders will use its grant of £242,913 to encourage meaningful relationships between children and non-parents and carers, as well as wider family members. A dedicated family support worker is a new role that will work with families who have complex and deep-rooted difficulties, or where contact is failing. The project will provide one to one parenting support for adults, as well as mediation and counselling services to help families cope with their breakdown.

Isobel Bilsland, Manager, Relationships Scotland Borders, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant by the Big Lottery Fund which will allow us to stabilise and expand our very busy contact service and family support work. Many parents have told us that our centres are ‘a lifeline’ for them and their children. Five years of funding will allow us to deliver a more focused package of practical and emotional support to families throughout the Scottish Borders.”

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