LifeLine Projects

Offering support for every kind of family

We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.

Over the many years that I’ve worked in the charity sector, I’ve seen countless new initiatives and programmes launched with the aim of supporting and helping families.

I once took part in a team-building exercise that involved everyone being given six Lego bricks. You were given a couple of minutes to go away and make a duck out of your allotted bricks. We then regrouped and presented our ducks to the rest of the group.

The assortment of ducks presented were very creative and seeing others’ interpretations left you wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The idea behind the exercise was to demonstrate the diversity of thought within our group—or to put it more simply, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I was surprised when the trainers informed the group that there are over 900 million ways to construct a duck out of just six bricks. I thought they were exaggerating so I looked it up.

They were correct.

This got me thinking about the people and families we serve. When we discuss diversity, we usually focus on culture, race, gender, and sexuality—but we rarely question how diverse a family unit itself can be. Some examples are divorce-extended families, lone-parent families, reconstituted families or stepfamilies, same-sex families, nuclear families and matrifocal families (made up of female family members). With every new generation, the definitions and expectations of what makes ‘a family’ can completely change.

As the families in our communities over time have redefined themselves, LifeLine, too, has reflected this by frequently adapting the programmes we deliver to meet their needs. If we’d designed and delivered programmes for an idealised version of what an average family is, we’d have hit a brick wall long ago. We try to engage and support diverse families with an open mind. Families don’t all have the same support structures and they don’t all have the same problems. Whatever challenges the people we serve are going through, their problems are often far more complex than you could imagine.

At LifeLine, I’m proud to say that the diversity of our staff is key to the successful delivery of our programmes. As an organisation, our main resource for innovative new ideas and solutions that help us support our community is our staff and beneficiaries. A 2018 Deloitte report, The diversity and inclusion revolution, states that diversity of thought (a combination of different values and personalities) in a workplace can increase team innovation by up to 20%. To me, a family home is a living example of diversity of thought—all those different opinions and principles managing to live together under one roof. I’m a big fan of the Jon Yates’ book ‘Fractured’, in which he acknowledges how great people are when they’re united in diversity.

An essential part of our service for families at LifeLine is something I call ‘laid-back engagement’. Usually, our first encounter with parents and carers is through the young people they look after. This gives us an opportunity to establish an easy-going relationship that’s not based on the suspicion that all our staff members have a hidden agenda. Whilst not all of our staff are parents, we ensure our parenting staff are parents. Our staff encourage the people they serve to choose how they’ll stay in contact and how often this will happen. The most important thing is creating a strong bond by setting rules and boundaries that influence how we’re going to work together. Our approach sets out to encourage empowerment, make meaningful connections and generally accept each other for who we are. It’s about respect, dignity, and actively listening to concerns. Just like those six Lego bricks, we can connect and work together with the understanding that there are many different solutions.

The ultimate goal is that we deliver a successful service that addresses the needs of every kind of family, ensuring support is available for all.

To finish, here are my seven tips of supporting families:

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Nathan Singleton

Chief Executive Officer
Nathan is passionate about improving the lives of young people and their families. Nathan draws from the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” He believes community is the component that is missing in the modern western society and the key component that would benefit young people. Nathan believes we are there, not just to help others but to support them to become agents of change within their communities.

These articles may contain testimonials by LifeLine staff members and service users of our programmes and/or services. These testimonials reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of such staff members/service users. However, the experiences are personal to those staff members/service users and may not necessarily be representative of all staff members/service users of our programmes and/or services. We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all staff members/service users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

Testimonials are submitted in various forms such as text, audio and/or video, and are reviewed by us before being posted. They appear in the newsletter in words as given by the staff members and service users, except for the correction of grammar or typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened for the sake of brevity where the full testimonial contained extraneous information not relevant to the general audience.

The views and opinions contained in the testimonials belong solely to the individual user and do not reflect our views and opinions. Staff members/service users are not paid or otherwise compensated for their testimonials.



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