Jersey charity Friends of the Bridge has received a £45,000 grant over three-years from Lloyds Bank Foundation in the Channel Islands in order to fund a volunteer coordinator.
Kim Skinner’s role as coordinator will help raise awareness of the support on offer for families in Jersey, as well as helping parents attending The Bridge Child and Family Centre take the next step to become volunteers. Once trained, volunteers offer support and signposting within the centre as well as in partnership with Jersey schools.
The unique ‘Train the Trainer’ scheme, whereby parents support each other is a grass roots initiative Friends of the Bridge is hopeful will develop across Jersey’s public services and other charities. Volunteering gives parents the confidence to help each other by passing on their own experience and knowledge of support available for them and their families. Due to this personal approach, the charity hopes it will be a long-term and sustainable way to remain visible in the community.
Friends of the Bridge was founded when The Bridge opened in the Island over a decade ago. It works in partnership with all agencies based at centre to help provide families with advice, assistance and support with parenting, child care and general wellbeing. It also runs a café for families to meet and relax. Partner agencies at The Bridge include Brighter Futures, Community Midwives, Family Nursing and Homecare, Jersey Childcare Trust, Parenting Support Services and Mind Jersey.
Various courses for parents are delivered at The Bridge including ante-natal classes, Baby Babble – speech and language, Decider skills training, Dads Club, Growing Together and Triple P positive parenting groups.
Commenting on the scheme, Kim explained:
“The Bridge is such a key service for Jersey families, particularly for those parents who find balancing life and parenthood to be a real challenge – which of course, it is. Friends of the Bridge is there to support any parents or parents-to-be who are struggling, and I hope that by having a strong network of volunteers who have been there first hand, people feel comfortable in approaching us, whatever might be concerning them.
“Our volunteers have already benefited from making new friends in similar situations and they have a Whatsapp group to share useful information. It really is invaluable signposting for the charity.”
Jo Le Poidevin, Executive Director, Lloyds Bank Foundation also commented:
“We were very pleased to be able to support Friends of the Bridge with funding towards the salary of the volunteer coordinator. What makes this scheme so special is that through the support for families, the volunteer parents are also benefiting from a meaningful learning opportunity, increasing self-confidence, developing new skills and improving their employability. I am sure that with Kim’s ongoing work in raising awareness of the charity, The Bridge will be able to support many more families in the future.”