It was a double celebration for Faith in Families this morning, as the news its services are safe for at least another year was announced at its Christmas concert.
St Mary’s Church was full for the annual carol service, which featured performances from children from its family centres and Puddleducks scheme.
Swansea councillors voted yesterday to continue Faith in Families’ funding at 90% of previous levels for the next financial year, and 50% of funding for the year after.
The news means that the charity – part of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon’s Board for Social Responsibility – will be able to retain most of the services it provides at its three family centres in the city for at least one more year.
Archbishop John Davies, who led the service, said: “We are lucky enough to have, into the future, a little bit of certainty. Our services are safe for the next year and, fingers crossed, they’ll be safe for the foreseeable future.”
The charity – and its staff – had been facing the prospect of an uncertain Christmas, after the Welsh Government scrapped its flagship initiative aimed at tackling poverty, Communities First.
Communities First accounted for 79% of the funding for the St Teilo’s, Bonymaen and Clase centres.
A restructuring of the staff team has been underway in order to strengthen the charity into the future.
CEO Cherrie Bija said: “While the council decision is good news, there is still much to be done to secure the future of these vital family centres.
“We have recently embarked on an intensive strategic planning process with the assistance from WCVA and community consultations.
“The 183 people who took part in the consultation exercise were drawn from all three areas in Swansea, with a spread of respondents from each of the three Swansea family centres.
“Out of the respondents, 95% noted that they were currently actively accessing services delivered by Faith in Families. 118 respondents (65% of respondents) believed that the removal of services would have a significant or life changing impact on their family life.”
In response to the question ‘What are your greatest needs now and in the future?’ respondents identified that their greatest needs were with support for family issues (59%).
The greatest perceived need is in supporting their families (91 responses, 59% of respondents to this question).
Other high-ranking needs included provision of services for children (88 responses, 48% of respondents) support for health and wellbeing (84 responses, 46%) support for childcare (80 responses 44%) and support to prevent loneliness (73 responses 40%).
“Therefore we know we must ensure that we continue to support our families to become more resilient and achieve outcomes that they want to see in their own lives,” Cherrie said.
“Prevention is at the heart of the council’s delivery plan and we are thrilled to have the recognition that our services are essential to improve the life chances of Swansea’s citizens.”
Faith in Families was the subject of nationwide coverage for its work in tackling summer hunger. Its Swansea centres served up more than 3,500 hot meals during the summer holidays.
The Archbishop later in joined St Mary’s curate Rev Ian Folks and Swansea’s deputy lord mayor David Phillips for a spot of busking outside the church, in aid of Faith in Families.
The charity was also presented with a cheque for £8,000 from the diocesan branch of the Mothers’ Union by its president, Ruth Roberts.