Third Sector Awards: Charity of the Year Over £5m – Family Action

Charity of the Year Over £5m – Family Action

What is the charity’s aim?

Family Action supports some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families and individuals in our society, building stronger families through emotional, practical and financial support.

What does it do?

When the pandemic hit, Family Action knew it had to keep its 160 services across the country running to support families with both ongoing issues and the new challenges thrown up by Covid-19. It also resolved to fund and open more services to meet increased need. The charity now runs 200 services, employing more than 940 staff and supporting over 60,000 families.

What has it achieved in the past year?

Family Action’s Covid Response Working Group identified mental health, isolation, financial problems and food insecurity as key challenges for families. Essential face-to-face services such as childcare were made Covid-19-secure, and other services developed virtual support, such as online breastfeeding advice.

By increasing the capacity of its free helpline FamilyLine, Family Action was able to support almost 10,000 people with issues ranging from financial problems and parenting challenges to family relationships and mental health issues. A merger with abuse and rape counselling service PARCS expanded the charity’s work around sexual and domestic violence and abuse.

Family Action also expanded its FOOD Clubs, which offer healthy food in an accessible, non-stigmatising way, from nine to 72. The charity’s National School Breakfast Programme was adapted to include “breakfast at home” packs, ensuring the most vulnerable children continued to have nutritious breakfasts even when schools were closed.

A Covid Survival Grants scheme supported families with Covid-19-related issues such as access to education, paying out £2,879,291 in 4,341 grants. A Covid Ideas Bank enabled services to submit ideas to fund initiatives including support packs for families.

Family Action also supported staff during the crisis, with a wellbeing programme, a free confidential helpline, virtual get-togethers and a daily staff newsletter.

What did the judges say?

“An excellent response to the pandemic with appropriate and timely new services being delivered. It is clear that passion drives this charity.”

Highly commended

  • Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association


  • Everton in the Community
  • NHS Charities Together
  • Royal Voluntary Service
  • SafeLives
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