Project information


200 Volunteers support 120 children and their families living in long-term temporary accommodation (up to 10 years). Volunteers provide a home-visiting service and also provide weekly community-based sports, recreational and learning projects.

January 2014 - December 2015

Charity information: Westminster Befriend a Family

Westminster Befriend a Family logo
  • Need


    There are 2000 children living in temporary accommodation in Westminster, with many spending years in overcrowded conditions with limited amenities. Of these, 101 families currently live in B&B accommodation. Our Homeless Families Project supports 80 homeless families. Families like Marilyn and her three sons who have been temporarily housed in a one bedroom flat since 2009. Marilyn has HIV and is seriously ill. Her children are taken into care when she cannot cope.


    With just 4 staff we mobilise a workforce of more than 200 dedicated and trained volunteers to support 500 children and 300 parents throughout our organisation, specifically 80 homeless families. Our volunteers provide a lifeline for families: homework support for children; helping families to access community learning and advice services; providing sports and learning projects for children and their parents. They also fundraise for grants to improve the living conditions of families.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To improve the learning of homeless children


    » Volunteers provide homework support at homes or community venues with space and resources. Volunteers organise educational workshops.
    » Volunteers take children to arts, sports, leadership, family learning and other workshops where they can develop their skills

    An assessment of needs provides the baseline data for all families.
    Volunteer log sheets, surveys with children and parents and attendance registers monitor and evaluate success

    Aim 2

    To improve the living environment of homeless children and families


    » Volunteers fundraise to purchase essential household items for families
    » Volunteers liaise with landlords to carry out essential repairs, such as broken windows, etc
    » Volunteers liaise with housing departments and help families to complete housing applications

    An assessment of needs provides the baseline data for all families.
    Volunteer log sheets, surveys with children and parents and attendance registers monitor and evaluate success

    Aim 3

    To improve the physical and emotional health of homeless children and families


    » Volunteers organise weekly swimming and martial arts lessons. Children learn skills, and have respite from overcrowded living conditions.
    » Volunteers organise half-term family learning outings. Children and parents have fun, get out and about and have respite from their living environment

    An assessment of needs provides the baseline data for all families.
    Volunteer log sheets, surveys with children and parents and attendance registers monitor and evaluate success

    Aim 4

    To improve the education of homeless parent


    » Weekly life coaching workshops for parents to develop confidence, self-esteem and communication skills so they can access education and employment
    » Volunteers provide a home-visiting English conversational practice service for parents who speak English as a second language

    An assessment of needs provides the baseline data for all families.
    Volunteer log sheets, surveys with children and parents and attendance registers monitor and evaluate success

  • Impact


    1. Families will be less isolated, and integrated into their local communities. This will have a positive impact on community cohesion
    2. Improved education of homeless children and families so that they can improve their circumstances.
    3. Improved family relationships so that children are not taken into care and families do not break down because of the stress of their living conditions

    Success will be demonstrated by six monthly surveys with families and a long-lens survey a year after


    Inability to retain volunteers: We utilise volunteers who are on 6 month or year-long placements to ensure continuity of service delivery.

    Monitoring the work of Volunteers: Our Social Worker provides weekly supervision to social work students and monitors all volunteer weekly log sheets.

    We place volunteers according to their aspirations, skills and experience and provide monthly supervision and training.

    We have a pool of 200 volunteers and carry out monthly recruitment drives


    Monitoring the project: family assessments; volunteer log sheets; volunteer supervision sessions; six-monthly family survey; attendance registers for activities. Evaluation report: Two Social Research Interns and the Director of Services prepare six-monthly and annual report using this all this data

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £50,517

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,657 Swimming lessons Pool hire (three terms @ £1049 per term), 3 instructors x £30 p.h. x 39 weeks
      £4,500 Martial arts lessons £15 per month per child (2 weekly lessons) x 25
      £10,800 Parent life coaching Venue £120 x 40 weeks and facilitators 40 @ £150
      £24,480 Travel expenses + Admin 75 volunteers @ £8/wk (Volunteer expenses for all home visiting + community support), £2400 admin
      £4,080 Outings + Quarterly Workshop Outings 6x (£3.5/parent, 80 parents) Workshops 4x (£250 venue, £200 speaker, £150 refreshments)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Cubitt House £20,000 Conditional
  • Background


    Our 200 volunteers provide a home-visiting support service to homeless families who live throughout the borough of Westminster. Volunteers also organise community based events throughout Westminster, at schools, public swimming baths, and community centres that are at the heart of the most disadvantaged communities in the borough


    Families in temporary accommodation in the borough of Westminster will benefit. Westminster has a severe housing shortage. Families spend years in overcrowded and poor accommodation. One of our families has been in temporary accommoation for 10 years. Westminster is one of 4 boroughs with the highest rates of child poverty in the UK, pockets where more than three in five children live in poverty.

    The current waiting list for a 3 bed home in Westminster is 8 years

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have been operating for 24 years, providing a wide range of support services to children and families.
    • June 2013 we won the 'Outstanding Organisation' Award at Westminster Community Awards
    • 2012 two volunteers won the Santander Excellence
    • 2011 our Director of Services won the Living City Leadership Award for supporting families and volunteers.
    • We were commissioned by the government's Children's Fund for 8 years to run a youth project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Social Work Students

    Social work students on work placements for a year provide family support, carry out assessments and monitor and supervise volunteers

    Family Support Volunteers

    Provide emotional and practical support to families at home or community venue. Volunteers receive monthly high-quality training and supervision

    Senior Projects Manager - Qualified Social Worker

    Supervises the social work students and oversee all family cases, manages child protection, trains volunteers

    Director Of Services

    Trains volunteers, supervises Senior Projects Manager, monitors and evaluates the project. She has a first class degree in social policy


For volunteer home-visiting support for 3 months.

“We live in temporary house, don’t see anyone. At swimming the children learn things, talk to people and good for health.”

Esther, refugee lone mother of two sons, (Homeless parent fleeing domestic violence)