How to Refer

Family First is open to referrals from any community and statutory agencies, churches, primary care and schools.  Parents and carers can also self refer. We welcome informal enquiries to discuss how we may be able to help. Please ring us on 0300 772 7715 to discuss further.

Parents must live in Ipswich, or the immediate surrounding area, and have at least one child under the age of 18.

Our main services are parent mentoring and parenting courses.

Parent mentoring; Our parent mentoring program provides up to 12 months worth of support from a trained family volunteer.  The family will be assigned an experienced Family Coordinator who will carry out an initial assessment to identify the areas for support. Parents will then be matched with a suitable volunteer. Our volunteers visit parents and carers for up to an hour a week, to listen, support and encourage them to reach their agreed goals. The Family Coordinator will support the volunteer and carry out regular reviews to make sure the support parents are receiving is working for them. Parenting mentoring is for the parent or carer, we do not work directly with children.

Parenting courses; We also offer a range of parenting courses. These 6 week courses are free and are DVD/discussion based. They can be accessed through an online group, or face to face group sessions in local schools and community venues. Parents interested in registering for a course can find more details here.

If you are interested in hosting a parenting course in your school or organisation please contact us on 0300 772 7715 or 

Referral criteria

We seek to be a flexible service that aims to meet a diverse range of needs that parents may have, who live within Ipswich and have at least one child under the age of 18.  We work with all families regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or cultural background.

Our aim is for parents and carers to increase their confidence, social support networks and mental wellbeing.

Our vision is to see families that are resilient, thriving, and happy.

We suggest that any potential referral is fully discussed with the family, explaining what our service offers and what the commitment is for them regarding being available for an hour a week. It is important that parents understand that we do not do regular practical tasks such as shopping, cleaning and looking after family members. We can attend groups and activities within the community with them if, for example, this is part of a bigger aim of improving confidence and mental well being.

If you are in doubt that our service is appropriate for the parent you are working with we strongly suggest you ring Sarah, Service Lead, to discuss further. Please ring us on 0300 772 7715.

Completing the referral

Please complete the referral form with the parent, gaining their consent and agreement for the referral.

The Referral Form 2021 can be downloaded, completed and then emailed to the Service Lead,

Following referral

Following receiving a referral form the parent will be contacted by the Service Lead. If we have a waiting list in operation, which happens at busy times, the family’s case will be triaged and given a rating according to priority of need.  Families are allocated to a Family Coordinator at monthly  team meetings (usually the first Monday of the month). The Family Coordinator will contact the parent and arrange to complete the initial assessment after which a suitable volunteer will be allocated. The referrer will then be informed that the family is actively working with Family First.