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Resolution granted funding extension to support families impacted by loss of legal aid

Date:10 MAR 2015
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Journals Manager + Online Editor

Resolution’s pioneering Family Matters pilot service, which helps low income separating families who were previously eligible for legal aid has been granted an extension in funding to continue the service until September.

Family Matters is one of 16 trial Innovation Fund projects, launched by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2013, that have been providing tailored support across the country, helping separated parents work together for the benefit of their children.

On 8 May DWP announced that an extra £2.5 million in government funding would be made available to Innovation Fund projects. The new funding means they will now be extended until September 2015.

Family Matters specifically supports families struggling with separation in Newcastle, Crewe and Oxford. This free service helps couples on low incomes, where one is receiving a benefit or receiving less than the living wage. The service has helped more than 1,000 people since it began in 2013. Its success has seen Family Matters recently hire three new ‘guides’ – experienced lawyers and mediators who help clients with information, support and referrals.

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Family Matters Guides use their knowledge of the law and skills as mediators to provide help for separating parents at a very stressful time, as well as helping them find other local sources of support.

Resolution’s Family Matters project manager Jane Wilson says:

'We are delighted that Resolution is able to continue to deliver vital support to separating couples for a further six months through our Family Matters service. We’ve helped over a thousand parents so far, and this announcement means we’ll be able to help even more. The loss of family legal aid has had a huge impact on the communities we work with and for many of the people we help, Family Matters is the only initial support they can access to help them through their separation. The numbers of people that we’ve seen shows that there is a real need for this type of service for families.

Family Matters uniquely offers both parents information and support to help them work together through their separation, in a way that causes as little disruption as possible to their children. Family Matters Guides use their knowledge of the law and skills as mediators to provide a "holding hand" for separating parents at a very stressful time, as well as helping them find other local sources of support.

The service is free where one parent is receiving a benefit or is earning less than the Living Wage. Since April 2013, we have helped over a thousand parents who otherwise would have had nowhere else to turn.

This welcome extra funding will enable us to see an additional 478 parents. Our next goal will be to find a way to continue the service beyond September 2015, so that yet more families can be given this crucial support.'
One parent who used Family Matters said:

'Initially it was hard to figure out what to do. As I talked to my Family Matters Guide, things became clearer and I am now comfortable that my partner understands what I am trying to achieve.'
Steve Webb, minister with responsibility for child maintenance, said:

'Family breakdown can be difficult for everyone involved, but the evidence shows that children stand a much better chance of getting on in life when their parents are working together.

This funding will allow these projects to continue their excellent work by helping parents to put aside their differences for their children’s sake.

We are starting to see some very encouraging results from these projects which will be invaluable when it comes to designing future services and are proving priceless for the families being helped.'
More information on Resolution's Family Matters service is available here.