Wigan Family Welfare expresses joy at winning prestigious Josephine Butler Award

The Wigan based charity is celebrating winning the prestigious Josephine Butler Award in recognition of their work in counselling, advocacy and support for many families across the Wigan area.

The annual award was presented at a recent ceremony at Liverpool Cathedral.  They are organised by the Josephine Butler Trust in memory of the social pioneer recognising the work carried out by individuals and organisations that reflect her values and pioneering spirit.

Wigan Family Welfare was singled out for the award as they continue to be a leading light in Wigan’s third sector since 1958. With support from local churches and secular bodies they have maintained a high level of counselling to adults, children and young people as well as advocacy for the most vulnerable in the most difficult of situations. Despite budget cuts and constraints they have remained true to their Christian heritage and determined to work to support the vulnerable.

Pauline Lewis, Chair of the Josephine Butler Trust said “awarding anything in the memory of an outstanding social pioneer is a difficult task. We felt Wigan Family Welfare were worthy of being given the accolade of an award and a cash bursary which we hope will enable them to continue their excellent work making a bigger difference in the lives of many in the Wigan area.”

Stuart Parsons, Chief Officer of Wigan Family Welfare said “As an organisation that sees nearly 2000 people a year it is an honour that our work is acknowledged throughout the Diocese.  The recognition means a great deal to staff and to each and every member of ‘the family’ whether it be Trustees, staff, volunteers, trainees and those who use our service.  We work tirelessly to provide a high quality service to those we are here to support.  The bursary will be used directly to do this work.”

About Wigan Family Welfare

Wigan Churches’ Association for Family Welfare (known as Wigan Family Welfare) is an interdenominational Organisation offering support to those most in need within the Borough of Wigan.  It was formed in 1958 and is a Registered Charity (Charity No 1076830) and a Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered in England and Wales No 3773810).  We offer counselling, and advocacy projects to children, young people and their families as well as practical and material support.  Over the years, we have extended our work to include community development in order to extend the good practice and experience gained over years of service to the community.  To relaunch its services in August 1999 the Organisation was successful in applying for a bid to the Community Fund.  The subsequent funding allowed the Organisation to employ a Project Manager, Advocate, two part time Admin Assistants and partially funded one Counsellor/Social Worker’s post.

Policies and procedures where put in place to give the work a framework from which to operate and to reinforce agreed good practice such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapies Ethical Framework.

In August 2000 our Advocacy Service grew by 100% with funding made available for an Older Person’s Mental Health Advocate.

In December 2000 we began to offer a counseling service in GP’s surgeries with the Wigan Primary Care Group. 

May 2001 saw the start of our Sure Start Project to offer counselling to families who have children under the age of 4 in the Hindley/Hindley Green areas of the Borough.

By January 2003 the good news came that another 3 years funding had been secured from the Community Fund (Big Lottery).

In the 6 years of Community Fund support, the Organisation expanded beyond all expectations.  The funding allocated by the Community Fund allowed the Organisation to employ qualified and experienced staff to continue the high and professional service for which the Organisation is well known.  It has enhanced its agreed areas of work (counselling and advocacy) choosing to focus on areas of expertise as opposed to expanding into new areas of work.

In September 2003 counselling began in 10 secondary schools funded by the Children’s Fund for children aged 11 – 14 years.

In December 2003 counselling in GP’s surgeries ended with a third of the Organisations income also ceasing, counselling referral pathways from GP’s and the Primary Care Trust had to stop due to the lack of funding.  Advocacy remained constant.

An independent review of all services offered by Wigan Family Welfare was conducted in January 2006, and positive feedback was given.

Our Sure Start Project was extended to cover Platt Bridge Children’s Centre in April 2006.
From June 2006 subsided funding from the Children’s Fund ended and all 10 Secondary Schools continued to offer counselling.  Four continued to contract with Wigan Family Welfare.

In September 2006 funding was received from the Abram Annuities fund to send a counsellor into primary schools in the Abram Ward, and our Sure Start Project was extended to all new children’s Centre across the Borough.

Our under 65 and over 65 Mental Health Advocacy Project was amalgamated in October 2006 and after a successful tender funding was secured for a further 2 years.
The Organisation was awarded the tender in December 2006 for the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate Service for 2 years.

In June 2007 through partnership working with people first, the Learning Disabilities Advocate group and the Learning Disabilities Partnership Board funding for 3 years was secured to employ a Learning Disabilities Advocate Co-ordinator.

To date the Organisation now regularly works with approximately 2000 new people a year.  The majority continue to be children.  The Organisation continues to focus on counselling and advocacy and is financially secure for some years to come.  Over the years it has been seen as the face of professionalism in the Charitable Sector, known for its high standards and service.