Family Lives & Barefoot Institute Working in Partnership to Engage the Waltham Forest Community to Provide Support to Separated and Separating Muslim Families

Family Lives and Barefoot Institute are working together to engage with separated parents from the Muslim Community to deliver emotional support and practical advice through volunteer befrienders.    

The two charities are actively recruiting volunteers from the local community to build their skills and capacity necessary for supporting separated and separating families throughout Waltham Forest   The second phase of the recruitment and volunteer training commences in April 2014. 

Short-term focused support from organisations such as Barefoot Institute and Family Lives can help couples – and children- to understand what is happening and make plans for the future.  One to one counselling assist those who are struggling with conflicting emotions related to parental separation. The Barefoot Institute and Family Lives partnership is designed to ensure all basis are covered and that parents, children and the wider family are equipped to find their own ways through the challenges of separation.

Aisha Below, Waltham Forest Senior Family Support Worker of Family Lives said:

“Many people find it difficult to admit to relationship support needs.  This can be further magnified by the fact that divorce and separation is a particularly stressful experience, with conflicts and tensions often continuing post separation, causing separated parents to feel vulnerable. There is a particular issue with fathers being reluctant to seek support after a separation. Through our partnership with paternal support organisations and outreach work, Family Lives has developed an expertise in working with fathers and overcoming any reluctance to seek support.” 

Over a 12 month period, Family Lives’ free 24/7 Helpline found that 6357 calls were from parents and carers throughout the UK where the primary issue cited was divorce and separation.  A further 1854 concerned family law.  Regarding divorce and separation, 2931 parents talked to Family Lives specifically about child access and 3523 called to seek advice specifically around being unable to reach an agreement with their ex-partner around issues such as maintenance and access.  Overall, 51% of helpline calls were from separated parents over the year.  Where divorce and separation was the primary reason for calling Family Lives helpline, parents talked particularly about lack of contact, unreliable and unwilling contact, the impact of divorce on the behaviour of their child, conflict and living arrangements. 

Befriender volunteers will be trained in Waltham Forest by Family Lives to support separating couples and -following separation- around continuing support and interest of their child. 

For volunteer enquiries please contact Barefoot Institute on 020 7118 4001 or Family Lives on 01707 630100.


Notes to Editors


For press enquiries, please email or call 07525 403 642.


Befriending volunteers get full training in listening and befriending skills.  Once trained befriender volunteers are given a full package of support and supervision to encourage personal development and learning in order that their role feels well supported, valued and enjoyable


Barefoot Institute has 15 years of combined experience in:


•Providing expert advice and support in marriage and relationships

•Supporting individuals and families in their marriage

•Training individuals and couples to create better relationships


Family Lives has been supporting families for over 30 years and provides high quality training and support of volunteers, thereby developing skills and capacity to deliver non=stigmatising grass roots services by the community for the community in which they live. Our successful volunteer led befriending model received The Queens Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award in 2013.


The Department of Work and Pensions has commissioned Family Lives and The Barefoot Institute to support Muslim families experiencing difficulty and concerns as a result of their parents’ separation.  These difficulties might stem from changes in family life such as separation, divorce/remarriage, developments within step families, illness, loss or bereavement. 


• Family Lives & Barefoot Institute will support families in Waltham Forest from April 14 – March 15.

• Family Lives & Barefoot Institute will recruit, train and manage 20 volunteers who will support an average of 3 families from April 14 – March 15.

• Family Lives & Barefoot Institute will support Waltham Forest volunteers to work with Muslim families to ensure that a collaborative relationship between parents is reached

• Family Lives & Barefoot Institute will work with families to establish and agree Joint Parenting Plans and help to ensure that private child maintenance arrangements are reached