Southampton Project Praised for Community Efforts

09 July 2016

Families Matter receives prestigious Community Project Award

Families Matter, a community initiative to support young families and children based at Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hythe, was announced as overall winner of the Community Project Awards 2016 and picks up prize money of £4,000.

Rev. Eddie Boon and Julia Cross Project Manager of Families Matter were presented with the award at the United Reformed Church Assembly held in Southport on Saturday 9 July. The awards, sponsored by national church insurer Congregational, recognise the efforts of churches that establish social initiatives within their local community.

In 1997 church members discussed with local organisations what could be done to support the community. This resulted in a scheme to provide parenting classes to aid young families, create support networks and help prevent future problems such as youth offending. The project has since expanded and offers a variety of activities including support groups for families coping with drug addictions, nurturing children who are making the transition to secondary school and running specialist groups for parents of children with Autism and other special needs.

Work undertaken by Families Matter supports all members of the community at critical times by offering holistic support and helping them to build positive lives whilst steering vulnerable children away from anti-social behaviour.

The project runs a number of activities for the differing needs of the community. Monthly dementia support group meetings provide respite for carers whilst offering friendship and mild exercise for those living with the illness. Weekly women’s wellbeing classes operate for women with mental health needs. Prasin’ Hands is a puppet show which is acted out in over 20 schools and provides educational yet fun learning on topics such as bullying, healthy eating and recycling.

Julia Cross from Families Matter, said: “We’re thrilled to have been selected as the winner of this year’s awards and are delighted that our work with vulnerable families has been recognised on a national level.

“We have been serving the local area for the past 18 years and plan to use the funds to support our schools project 'On the Right Track' and continue to help children transition between primary schools and secondary schools in the Hythe area.”

Margaret Slater Marketing Manager for Congregational Insurance said: “We place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives such as Families Matter that really make a difference to the lives of young people. I feel the success lies in the fact that the project has been running for quite a few years and has established a reputation for helping those in immediate need as well as building frameworks for the future.”

David Grosch Miller, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC), and one of the judges added: “The standard of entries at this year’s Community Project Awards was very high, and each of the prize winning organisations have made a real impact in their local area – showing God at work in small details and large visionary projects. We are absolutely delighted that so many impressive, life-giving projects have grown out of local URC congregations and we’re proud to provide Families Matter with their well-deserved cash prize and hope that this funding boost will enable them to continue their important community work.”

To view a short film on the project, please visit: https://youtu.be/M-0T39hbGBc