What is Family Support Work?

One of our team, Liz had a good chat with Michele Smart in our office at the Uckfield Volunteer Centre.  Michele is the Family Support Worker in Uckfield.  Family Support Work (FSW) is a Sussex based charity that started as an adoption agency for the Diocese of Chichester in 1890, they moved into family work when the local authority took over the adoption services. They’ve  been working with children and families for 125 years and have a fabulous team of professional support workers plus a play team covering East and West Sussex.


What are its general aims?

It aims to prevent family breakdown and to offer preventative strategies to help them through difficult times such as parenting issues, divorce, separation and bereavement. Referrals come from a variety of sources such as schools, health professionals, churches, G.P.s as well as self-referrals.

Family Support Work also offers those on low income practical support such as toys at Christmas and food as well as supported breaks in residential centres in the Sussex countryside.

How long have you worked for the organisation and what is the nature of your work?

I have a professional background in social work and have worked for the organisation for 10 years. My role is to assess a family’s needs and offer the appropriate services and assistance. This can take shape in many forms, such as 1-1 parenting, making referrals to other agencies or the use of a play team which will help families find ways of interacting with their children through the medium of play.  Every day is different and you never know what the day ahead will bring – it’s a challenging job and never boring!

Is there a role for volunteers within the organisation and in what capacity are they used?

Volunteers are used for a variety of support activities e.g. helping in after school clubs, drivers (of which we are always in need), cooks for supported breaks, fundraisers and general helpers. We provide DBS checks and guidance.

We are always looking for volunteers, no qualifications are needed except a willingness to help those in need.

Also there’s a charity shop in Eastbourne

For more information check out our website  www.familysupportwork.org.uk or find us on facebook


If you would like to find out about opportunities at the Uckfield Volunteer Centre, just look at our website.