An organisation which helps families and children in the North East by giving them help to improve and build new relationships is now moving to the next phase of development.

Changing Futures North East is delivering it’s Hartlepool Healthy Relationships project, supported by a £1.56m grant, as two new experienced professionals join their management team to help it continue its pioneering work.

The organisation was set up under its current guise in 2014, originally set up as Headland Future before being given a rebrand and opening up to people who live across the North East.

As well as ground-breaking work in their Healthy Relationships project, the organisation has a team of staff and volunteers who help and support children and families who need a bit of help to overcome challenges in their lives.

It also offers family mediation and other types of help under their Moving On project to separated couples, including mediation to help them avoid going through court.

The grant of £1.56m comes from the Early Action Neighbourhood Fund – a funding pot contributed to by the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

With this investment, Changing Futures North East is well positioned to help people have even healthier relationships and hopes to ultimately ease the demand on public services.

Graham Alton, Chief Executive of Changing Futures North East, said: “We are in an excellent position, and our aim to make sure we are always helping everyone involved in Hartlepool’s Children & Families Workforce to build on the good work they do and be even more effective at helping families and children have a range of happy, healthy relationships.

“Hartlepool, like other areas, faces huge social and financial challenges, and limited money means that it can be difficult to support people early enough, before their problems get worse.

“This project is focused on helping agencies support the key relationships within families, so that families are better able to thrive without as much support from some agencies.

“This means money is saved by helping agencies that we hope can be re-invested into early help services.

“Our research tells us that if families are better supported to have healthier relationships, this can mean that both parents and children can do better in life.

“Our pioneering project is aiming to help improve people’s emotional wellbeing, school attendance, and help children’s services realise savings from some budgets of up to 10% after five years.”

The organisation, which is based from a headquarters in Abbey Street on Hartlepool’s Headland, has 22 staff and over 70 volunteers, who provide valuable services to children and adults.

Graham added: “We help children and families directly in a number of ways – from mentoring children who set their own goals and work towards them with a skilled mentor, through to a youth club, a mentor for children in the care system, and help for separated parents.

“We get some funding from various organisations, but we do need more help. There are always opportunities for businesses and people in the community to get on board with us and help us with what we are aiming to achieve.”

The work carried out by Changing Futures North East was recognised in the 2016 Hartlepool Business Awards, with the organisation crowned as the winner in the Community category.

For more information about Changing Futures North East, and how you can get involved, call 01429 891444 or visitwww.changingfuturesne.co.uk