Family First is a Christian charity which has been based in Ipswich since 2013. The Charity is led by Trustees and a Management Team who possess a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience working in the public, private and voluntary sector.
All have a passion to see children and families supported to reach their full potential. All our paid staff and management team are Christians. Our volunteers, some of whom work directly with parents and others who support the charity in other areas, come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
We currently only work in Ipswich and the immediate surrounding area including the following postcodes; IP1, IP2, IP3, IP4, IP5. Referrals from outside these post code areas will be considered on a case by case basis.
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.
Family First is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.
Patron: Liz Harsant
Liz brings to the committee a considerable amount of professional experience and valuable links with a number of organisations. Liz was an Ipswich Borough Councillor for 23 years and during that time was Leader of the Council for 6 ½ years. She is a Suffolk County Councillor representing the Gainsborough Division and also Vice Chairman of the County. She is patron of the Charity Talitha Koum and has a number of other trusteeships and leadership positions in local organisations. With her council role, she has helped support many families and dealt with domestic and financial situations for residents. She also carries out casework for Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. Liz will bring expertise, time and invaluable links to Family First.
Sarah Stapleton: Service Lead.
Sarah’s background is in Family Support with Suffolk County Council. She has in depth experience with volunteers as a trainer, volunteer lead and as a volunteer herself. She started her involvement with Family First as a Family Volunteer. She has a wide range of qualifications including: Working With Families With Complex Needs, Domestic Abuse and Mental Health First Aid.
Kristie Frost: Family Coordinator
Kristie is a qualified Youth Worker who has a background working with families at Suffolk County Council in the Children’s Centre, Lighthouse Women’s Aid and Autism and ADHD. She is passionate about supporting individuals who are neurodivergent and promoting acceptance and inclusion.
Janine Lawrence Family Coordinator
Janine’s background is in Midwifery and Integrative Counselling. She has also worked as a Children and Families worker for her local church. Before taking on this role she had been working as a volunteer for Family First for two years. Janine qualified in 2022 as a Mental Health First Aider.
Katie Anderton: Family Coordinator
Katie’s background is in criminal justice, and she has held various paid and unpaid roles within the system including: volunteering with Witness Services at the Crown and Magistrates Court, DBS check for Suffolk Constabulary as well as Mental Health Co-Ordinator at the local Prisons. Katie has a BSc (hons) in Criminology and Psychology and an MSc in Psychology. Through her own experiences Katie understands the difficulties facing families with children who present with social, emotional or behaviours difficulties and/or challenging behaviours.
Sarah Hill: Family Worker
Sarah has a background in the care sector working with children and adults with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour.
She has a particular heart for anyone struggling with mental health issues or feelings of isolation and is a listener with the Samaritans.
Donna Long: Family Worker
Donna has a background in healthcare and preschool education. She is currently studying for a Diploma in Families and Children.
Donna understands the challenges of parenting without support and is passionate about using her own experience and skills to support other families.
Grace Scannell: Family Worker
Grace has a background of working within the financial sector and has previously worked within a school setting, working with children with Autism. She has a passion for helping others and volunteered with Family First before joining us in this role.
Grace has a LLB (Hons) in Law and strives to make a positive difference to the families she has the pleasure of working with. She has her own family and can draw on her experience to support those she works with.
Chair of Trustees: Dot Cordle
She has a clinical background in Nursing and Health Visiting, with extensive experience in clinical, operational and management of Children and Family Services within the NHS. Her career culminated in Head of these services across Suffolk. Following her retirement Dot has been involved with several charities including Family First
Trustee: Jan Baker
Jan has been part of the Organisation since it began in 2013. She has a professional background in nursing with over 35 years of experience working both in the community and until retirement, as a Diabetes Specialist Nurse in North East Essex.
Trustee: David Samson
David Sansom is both Trustee and Safeguarding Lead for Family First. Having worked for over 20 years in the private and public sector for Connexions and Children’s Services he brings a wealth of experience supporting teenagers and families and ensuring safe practice
Trustee: Dan Somers
Dan runs an established marketing company but also has a passion for helping people to find a way out of addictions, money or mental health issues. Daniel is an avid campaigner for improving mental health by working with charities, businesses and individuals. Dan has recently started a mental health charity called MANUP? Dan’s leading company helps look after this website voluntarily.
Trustee: Sajani George
Sajani has been involved in the field of education for over 15 years and is passionate about development of a child. She is involved in employing a holistic approach and supports mental wellbeing programs in her setting.
Trustee: Mark Crawley
Mark recently retired from Suffolk County Council where he led a team responsible for commissioning a variety of services for adults. Previously Mark was Director of Commissioning in an NHS Trust. He has over 30 years’ experience working in the public and charitable sector, much of it a senior level and brings a wealth of experience of developing and improving services for people with a wide range of health and care needs.