Project information

Step Forward for Parents

Working with parents and workless households with young children in the East Mitcham area, the project offers financial literacy support, community involvement and training opportunities designed to move families into a position of economic resilience.

January 2011 - December 2015

Charity information

Commonside Community Development Trust

Commonside Community Development Trust
  • Need


    There are high levels of worklessness and low levels of skills amongst parents in our locality. These are themselves barriers to employment and economic resilience and contribute also to stresses and other tensions in the home, as well as low levels of confidence, diffidence when dealing with children's schools and other statutory services, low aspirations and self esteem, passivity and inactivity.


    We aim to put parents in the driving seat. Our premise is that they are the right people to solve their own problems and that they do have the capacity to do this. We work with them to identify which local services and organisations, training courses, benefits or bank accounts are the most suitable for them and will help them on this journey. We are their champion in their serach for their entitlements and offer a gentle nudge when they are feeling incapable or overwhelmed.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To reach local parents who want to improve their family welfare.


    » To run fun community activities that are accessible to all make sure that local families know about us.
    » To work closely with other organisations in the local area to maximise opportunities and diisseminate information effectively.
    » To run regular and accessible drop-in sessions for families in crisis, such as those affected by homelessness, extreme poverty or domestic violence.

    A total of 200 families registerd with the Commonside Trust.

    Aim 2

    To provide information and teach skills that enable local parents to manage their income wisely.


    » To offer one-to-one sessions informing and advising parents about their welfare to work entitlements and responsibilities and tax credits.
    » To run well-publicised and easily accessible public events bringing together local organisations with expertise in financial literacy and employment.

    A reduction by 20% of the number of income related crisis cases.

    Aim 3

    To move parents on to employment or relevant volunteering, work experience or training.


    » Run accredited and skill-focused traininig at our Centre.
    » Provide Information, Advice and Guidance about training and education opportunities.
    » Liaise with local employers to ensure our training and advice closely maps the needs of the local economy.

    35% of families registered with the Trust have at least one parent in paid employment after a maxium of two years.

  • Impact


    A more vibrant local economy in the east of the London Borough of Merton.
    A larger proportion of local families engaged in activities in and around our community centre, including volunteering.
    A less transitory local population, making the area one that people choose to move to and stay in.


    Lack of funding
    We have an excellent reputation with the local authority and are therefore in a favourable position as a trusted partner for funding and new initiatives. We generate around 25% of our own income from renting space in the community centre. We are realistic about redundancies.

    Poor reputation/lact of trust in our services
    We have won an excellent local reputation but never rest on our laurels.
    Lack of jobs
    We seek to work closely with local employers.


    We will agree with donors in advance what reports they wish to see and what is important to them. Their wishes will be built into our project management framework.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £111,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £6,000 Community activities Visits to city farm, fruit-picking, museums, craft sessions
      £15,000 East Mitcham Partnership Newsletter and web-based hub for info-sharing and joint activities
      £35,000 Crisis drop in Casework with families in extreme difficulties
      £15,000 Individual financial literacy 1-2-1 work to stabilise income and outgoings
      £15,000 'Moneysmart' events Community roadshows with partners
      £25,000 Training and IAG Accredited training, skills workshops and IAG

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    LB Merton £30,000 Conditional
  • Background


    We are working in the east of the London Borough of Merton, primarily the Pollards Hill, Longthornton and Figges Marsh wards, but as we are so near to the borders with LB Sutton, Croydon, Wandsworth and Lambeth we do also work with families from these areas.


    Local families will benefit from increased economic independence and wellbeing.
    Local economy will benefit because of increased amounts of money spent locally.
    Local economy will benefit through more efficient links between job vacancies and supply of labour.
    Local businessness will benefit through a better-equipped workforce.
    Local authority will benefit because of less pressure on social services and other forms of support.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are locally based and know the area well. Our staff are committed and passionate about this work. The majority of our staff and volunteers live locally and all of them wish to see an improvement in the local area. More than half of our staff and volunteers have direct experience of mental ill-health, caring responsibilities, lone-parenthood, housing problems, domestic violence and drug- and alcohol-related crime.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Naomi Martin

    Director. Responsible for delivering the outcomes the funder wishes to see, overall project management and organisational good practice.

    Jenny Allison

    Programme manager responsible for crisis casework with families, child safeguarding, liaison with social services and police and outreach projects.

    Becky Knight

    Programme manager resopnsible for marketing, publicity and evaluation.


    Case worker and mentor, working with young mums, supporting them to access local services and organisations, health, training and education support.