Saturday, 17 August 2013

Make a FUSS over West Cumbrian Familes - a promise to the future

In this post I thought I'd write about an idea I've been talking about for quite a while now - in the hope that people will talk about it, share it, remind me of it or perhaps even think of getting involved in it.

So many households in West Cumbria, especially many of those with young children, are functioning in states of extreme stress.  The vast majority never complain, mainly because most of them don't think of themselves as being needy. 

We have a society of nuclear families and households living side-by-side on the same street without ever knowing each other.  As I knocked on every door in a street and chatted to groups of neighbours while canvassing in May it struck me forcefully how weak our local community bonds are. 

In particular it's obvious that we have young families who are under colossal stress living alongside people plenty to offer them but who don't know what's needed or how offer. 

Hence I think we need a charity which actively links families with young children up with neighbours and other local people who want to offer them support.  The obvious thing would be to appoint 'local grandparents' - one for each child, who spend an hour a week (ish - when they're around) ensuring that child has done his homework and is heard to read and is generally heard by an extra adult.  But once such a charity was set up and active it could do so much more.

Let's make a FUSS (Families under stress support) of our families.

When I suggest this to families the response from mothers in particular is quite overwhelming.  They give honest, rational and positive responses but quite often they're welling up with tears at the thought of how much they wish this had been there for them.  And how many fabulous parents do we have around out there who've raised their children and know what it's like and would love to be grandparents but won't be for ages and even when they are might be to kids who live hundreds of miles away?

Young families are good at making friends with each other but they also need friendship from people at different life stages. 

I don't think I'm the best person to set up such a charity - but I'll offer my full support to anyone who will.  If you're interested in being part of an organisation like this please do get in touch so that I can start to link people together.  Just add a comment to the blog or find me through Facebook or linkedin.


  1. Great idea. I had written a big comment, but then had to reactivate my old Blogger account, yadda yadda.

    The upshot of the previous comment was:
    Howsabout Howgill and Action for Children as obvious partners, with a soupcon of collaboration with Age Concern who might be able to offer support with the volunteering aspects. Local churches too.

    Not sure if you are aware of the We Are What We Do charity? They have a list of links in this sort of field here:

    I'm trying to extricate myself from some of my current commitments and am loathe to take on more, but support you in your efforts. :)

  2. Cheers Sarah and thanks for reactivating your login! Could you expand on those suggestion a bit? Is 'Howsabout Howgill" a charity?

    I think the churches would be brilliant at this - I'm so impressed with how Foodbank operates. I think Primary Schools and health visitors would be important hubs too...