A much-needed family group for parents which rose from the ashes after another was forced to close has just celebrated its first birthday.

Family Matters

Family Matters - Credit: Archant

A much-needed family group for parents which rose from the ashes after another was forced to close has just celebrated its first birthday.

The community based learning and nurture group, Family Matters, marked a year of supporting parents with young children in Hitchin and surrounding rural areas.

On Friday families and supporters enjoyed a special birthday cake made by a young parent who attends the group, which meets at Oughton Children’s Centre in Mattocke Road.

The community group was formed by Charmaine Rogers in the wake of the demise of the Family Group – part of Home-Start North Herts – which had to close after funding from Herts County Council was withdrawn.

But hard-working Charmaine and others were not to be deterred, dusted themselves down and started again from scratch.

Founder Charmaine told the Comet: “Lots of fun was on the menu with a musical sing and sign session, arts and crafts, and visits from community partners and funders.

“It continues to be a real privilege to have the opportunity to run the group along with my brilliant, loyal volunteers and build close, positive relationships with all of our parents and their amazing children. At Family Matters we love, nurture and learn together.

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“Since its inception a year ago we’ve gone from strength to strength.

“Family Matters is committed to positively supporting parents to help their children reach key milestones in preparation for nursery and preschool.

“We aim to offer support and guidance, encouraging and engaging with parents, helping families to become more confident and independent.

“We have been very fortunate in having lots of support from Oughton Children’s Centre, county councillor Judi Billing, Jacquie Hime at North Herts CVS, and North Herts District Council.”

The group received funding from the council’s Hitchin area committee for its summer playscheme, a healthy eating and wellbeing programme with budget cookery – which promoted the benefits of a healthly diet fun, and physical exercise for all the family through swimming sessions, music, movement and singing.

Kathy Burgess, manager of Oughton Children’s Centre, said: “The Family Matters group is a fabulous support for families of Hitchin.

“It enables them to build a network of support as well as access the help of the wonderful volunteers. I know that this group is a lifeline for many families who access it every week’’.

Councillor Judi Billing added: “I was delighted to attend the first birthday party at Family Matters.

“It’s a great success story of determination and love by those who knew the need was a strong as ever for somewhere for families with small children to meet.

“Cruel funding cuts have never daunted their amazing spirit.”