A Herefordshire social charity is offering a new service helping families where relationship problems are impacting on children, particularly in rural areas.

Vennture is one of eight groups nationally sharing in the Government’s £3.6 million Challenge Fund for innovative approaches to supporting families.

According to Government research, behaviour problems in children are 50 per cent more likely where parents’ relationships are under strain, while one in five children live in families where parents argue regularly.


“It can impact not just the child but the whole class and even the school,” Vennture’s lead executive Robert Thomas said.

The Thriving Families programme, already under way, is helping families directly but also works with the county’s schools to address issues pupils’ parents are having, and could serve as a model for rural areas elsewhere.

In Herefordshire, one in six households are rural, yet the Government’s fixes for social problems are largely geared towards urban settings, Mr Thomas said. Meanwhile the county’s schools, which play a key role in communities, lack the dedicated pastoral carers who are now the norm in their city counterparts.

Hereford Times: Vennture's Rob ThomasVennture's Rob Thomas (Image: LDRS)

“Parents or teachers may see a change in their child’s behaviour and not know why, nor know who to turn to,” he said. “There isn’t the help around them that there would be in a city.”

Vennture aims to mentor 100 families, to equip teachers at 24 schools to identify and act on the signs of domestic strain, and also to train parents to help other parents.

Mr Thomas emphasises the role of fathers in children’s development, even when separated from the child’s mother, as a focus for the programme.


The current cost of living squeeze has meanwhile brought matters to a head in many households, even those who would not consider themselves poor, he explained, while other “stressors” can include one parent being absent for periods of time, or a child with special educational needs.

These are not cases of domestic abuse or violence, or any other situation which would alert local authority children’s services, Mr Thomas pointed out.

“However we would love Herefordshire Council to match-fund this so we can roll it out to more schools and families,” he added.

Vennture can be contacted on 0330 20 20 730, or by email at ThrivingFamilies@vennture.org.uk .