Building Family Bridges


The Building Family Bridges Project is designed to improve the prospects of families with complex needs in Berkshire by addressing barriers that prevent them from entering and sustaining employment. The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) leads a strong partnership of experienced organisations to deliver the project into the heart of communities. The project is part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. 

Building Family Bridges has the family at the centre. It is about changing the way families are supported towards a holistic and empowering model which recognises the complexities of family situations and does not impose a predetermined pathway or long term goals for participants.

By providing consistent support and constructive challenge through Family Support Workers, the Building Family Bridges (BFB) project will enable project participants to identify their own long term goals and ensure they are able to access appropriate existing services to unblock the barriers to achieving those goals. Where gaps have been identified in services, BFB project partners have designed appropriate activities to fill these gaps.

BFP recognises that participants are members of a family, as well as individuals. It is therefore essential to look at the needs of all family members, recognising the impacts that individuals within the family have on each other, both positive and negative. It is important to encourage the positive impacts and help families find ways to minimise or eliminate the negative impacts. BFB therefore takes a whole family approach and includes initial engagement activities for all the family, providing opportunities for positive experiences. 

As well as outcomes for individual participants in the project, BFB will establish a partnership and networked approach for providing support to complex families which will inform future policy and practice.


The essential elements of the BFB approach are:

  • Recognition of each and every participant as an individual with individual goals and aspirations as well as barriers to overcome to start on an employment pathway.
  • Establishment of strong and effective partnerships for project delivery with organisations who work in the heart of communities and are trusted by the project target group; partners within the group have specific expertise and knowledge which they are able to contribute. 
  • A model designed following research with users from across the partnership as well as drawing on the expertise within the partnership. The model is designed from real not theoretical knowledge 
  • The planned management of the project ensures users have opportunities to review and shape the project design at every stage.
  • An extensive partnership that is able to provide or access relevant services to unblock barriers at appropriate points in the participant journey.
  • Good links established with a wide range of referral organisations across Berkshire.
  • Provision of consistent regular support from a Family Support Worker based in a local and trusted organisation.
  • There is a bridge to the next stage at each point in the pathway allowing for manageable and achievable steps which build confidence and resilience. 


A value-added approach, so that participants have documented evidence of their success for each stage of their journey that will be recognised and regarded positively by prospective employers, e.g. accreditation for skills learned or knowledge gained, references from voluntary placements, assessment reports for progress made and demonstrable evidence of abilities, for example a competent test drive of a forklift or a professional trial run at telephone answering.


For the Building Family Bridges bid GBA will be working on initial engagement for participants by conducting family fun, bonding, and learning activities and employability provision for people looking for employment into sports and leisure.


For an overview of Building Family Bridges nationally please visit:


For information on what events are taking place across Berkshire please contact:

Nick Rance

Community Physical Activity Manager

Mobile: 07702892518