Our vision, mission and history

Family walking on beach

About us

Family Lives was formed over forty years ago by volunteers, with the aim of ensuring that all parents had somewhere to turn before they reached crisis point. We know that the right support at the right time makes all the difference.

Family Lives provides targeted early intervention and crisis support to families who are struggling. The issues we support families with include family breakdown, challenging relationships and behaviour, debt, and emotional and mental wellbeing.

We know the difference being able to access appropriate, timely support can make to families in crisis, knowing there is someone at the end of the phone who will listen to them. And we know the longer term impact of early intervention with families, such as through the ParentChild+ programme, which supports the home-learning environment, and our family befriending programmes.

The expertise of our staff and volunteers is at the heart of everything we do, and we work together with them to support families through our range of services. We have always been a volunteer-led organisation and we simply could not do it without our 300+ volunteers, who work alongside our dedicated staff team. Many of our volunteers began their relationship with us as service users but have stayed to support others on their journey – a testament to the support they themselves received.

Our crisis support, provided for over 40 years through our helpline, has always been at the heart of what we do. Over the last year, demand has continued to outstrip our ability to help as many families as we want to. We have built up long-standing programmes in the areas we work in across England, providing support to thousands of families through our befriending services. 

You can read more about our work in our Annual Report

Our vision, mission and values

Our vision: Families should have access to active support and understanding.

Our mission: We build better family lives together. 

Our values: We value being compassionate, collaborative and trustworthy

You can read more about our aims for the future in our Strategic Plan

History of Family Lives

Family Lives was formally registered as a charity in 1999, and operated under the name of Parentline Plus. The charity's original formation as Parentline was founded in response to the tragic child abuse case of Maria Colwell in 1973, who was killed by her step-father. The parents that founded Parentline believed that there needed to be a dedicated organisation supporting parents, before they reached crisis point which could result in abuse. A merger in 1999 between the National Stepfamilies Association, Parentline and Parent Network built on the collective experience of these three charities, to provide a range of national and local services to support parents and families across the country.

Parentline Plus reverted back to its registered name of Family Lives in 2011. We still have senior members of staff from all three organisations working at Family Lives. Family Lives has also merged with two small organisations, Bullying UK and TeenBoundaries in 2010 and 2011 respectively, to further the expertise and reach of the organisation. In addition a merger with the respected Parenting UK occurred in November 2012, enhancing our work with professionals and practitioners in the parenting field. In 2014, Action for Prisoners' Families became part of Family Lives, working to support all those who work with families of offenders and prisoners. Currently Family Lives employs 186 staff and 236 volunteers across our central and local offices.

Our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion

Words are easy, actions much harder, but Family Lives wants to be clear that discrimination of any kind for any reason is an affront to our values and beliefs. We recognise that many of our colleagues, service users and friends within the wider community experience disadvantage and discrimination, and acknowledge that we all have a part to play to bring about systemic change. We will continue to work together to ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion are not simply three words but are experiences shared by all - and we are committed to the personal, organisational and community work that must take place to make this happen.

At Family Lives we are committed to advancing diversity, inclusion and equality and welcome applications from all backgrounds. Family Lives has an active Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) working group which reviews our recruitment, delivery and working alongside each other.

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