There's calls for the government to fund the creation of family hubs in a bid to help more households during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
In a parliamentary debate this morning led by Fiona Bruce MP, Danny Kruger MP and Tim Farron MP, MPs discussed the problems faced by households in the pandemic from struggling with working from home with small children, to addiction and mental health issues.
The MPs spoke about what the government could do to provide better and clearer support.
Fiona Bruce, Christian and Conservative MP for Congleton in Cheshire told Premier there is a need for a one stop shop where all families can go for help:
"The covid pandemic has exacerbated these challenges for many families but most of these challenges are not new, the challenge that government has is to take these challenges more seriously and more comprehensively.
"The point I wanted to make was several of us have been pointing these issues out for years, that families need more help, help to just tackle the problems we all suffer from for time to time as we are bringing up children or struggling with relationship problems or even looking after elderly parents who need a lot of care. It's where to go, where can you get that kind of help in your local community?"
Fiona Bruce added that many families have nowhere to go before they are really struggling and "before problems really become big ones."
The concept of family hubs revolves around a physical place where households can access support in one place.
It's also envisaged that the family hub could house voluntary organisations, such as Christians Against Poverty or Homestart. Fiona Bruce told Premier that with a "little bit of transformative funding" former Sure Start centres could be used as a base.
The hubs would be somewhere anyone could go with a family problem whether that be employment, obesity or troubles looking after elderly parents, where they could get help or signposted to help, perhaps online.
"Somewhere in the community that we all recognise just like we recognise the Citizens Advice Bureau," Bruce said.
She added that local authorities could start to look at the creation of the family hubs "immediately," especially as most of the services people would need to access are all ready in operation and that it would be a case of pulling them together and giving them "a base."
"The government might provide funding for a couple of people employed by a local authority to spend 6 months getting a family hub off the ground in their locality and pulling together these services and resources."
The government have done a lot in recent years to help troubled families with multiple problems, according to Fiona Bruce, but she said there's also a need to help "pre-troubled families" who need a bit of help with problems they are struggling with on their own, so they can get over it and get back on track.
"It's very much about prevention before problems get exacerbated rather than having to address really serious problems which could have damaged lives permanently and cost a great deal of money."
"If we can strengthen families, we can protect children's futures, we can help people flourish and it is something that everybody at some stage in their lives probably needs."
A small number of family hubs are currently in existence, such as in Chelmsford and the Isle of Wight.