An independent Cumbrian charity is enhancing its support for families across the north of the county thanks to a four-figure grant from the region’s biggest building society.

Cumbria Family Support aims to support families living in Carlisle, Allerdale and the Eden Valley with children up to eighteen years old who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress.

The longstanding charity, which has offices in Penrith, Workington and Carlisle, uses the Outcome Star assessment system to map out its work with each family, assess the progress being made and identify any areas in which actions plans need development.

And it has now used a £3,000 grant awarded through Newcastle Building Society’s English Street branch in Carlisle to purchase a new subscription to Outcome Star as well as a number of tablets on which its team can use it when they’re out in the field.

Founded in 1993, Cumbria Family Support has a team of ten paid staff supported by around 60 volunteers and currently works with 75 families, with a view to helping to meet a range of different short and long-term needs.

It operates primarily at an early intervention stage with local families as issues are just beginning to emerge, and works with them for as long as required for them to make and sustain positive changes


Activities range from simple weekly catch-up calls or face-to-face meetings to monitor progress and check how everyone is doing through to help with parenting strategies, decluttering and signposting towards other specialist agencies.

It has adapted its services during the pandemic to provide more help over the phone and via text, while activity and educational packs have been delivered to children who’ve needed to stay at home.

Deb Royston, chief executive officer at Cumbria Family Support, says: “The work we do with every family reflects their individual situations – we might just maintain occasional contact with some while helping others in several different ways, but it’s all done with specific outcomes in mind that will improve their well-being.

“Outcome Star helps our team understand these families’ specific needs, make and review plans for addressing them and assess the progress that is then being made.

“The clarity it provides is really important in helping everyone work towards agreed positive outcomes and showing all parties how this is being achieved.

“Having these new resources will enable us to work even more effectively, which will in turn hopefully help us make an even bigger difference to our families’ lives.

“There’s no way we could have afforded this without Newcastle Building Society’s generous backing, which we’re confident will have a big impact on the ways we work.”

Ryan Morgan, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s English Street branch in Carlisle, adds: “Cumbria Family Support makes a discrete but vital difference to the lives of dozens of local families, and the team’s work has become even more important this year.

“We’re very pleased to be helping them extend their positive impact on our community by supporting this project.”

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which was set up to offer grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £2.1m in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the £1m appeal set up by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation for its Coronavirus Recovery and Response Fund.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.