Case Study October 2021

Voices: Geeza Break

In our Voices series, we share the stories and opinions from our funded organisations that are helping to find solutions to poverty and trauma in Scotland. The latest group is Geeza Break, a charity that provides family support and flexible respite services to parents with children aged 0-16 years, predominantly within the East/North East in Glasgow.

"By enhancing self-esteem and self-awareness, parents move from being vulnerable to self-reliant, thereby accessing and fully utilising the resources currently available within the community."
  • What is your organisation working to achieve?

The overall objective is to help families to ‘move on’, introduce coping strategies to promote independence and enable parents to access appropriate community resources to help them sustain a positive lifestyle.  Parents are encouraged to look at their potential and set simple basic goals to help them make positive changes in their lives.  By enhancing self-esteem and self-awareness, parents move from being vulnerable to self-reliant, thereby accessing and fully utilising the resources currently available within the community. We are able to provide an intensive amount of support to individuals on a 1-1 basis and we also focus a lot of our work on the whole family which encourages positive relationships within the family and strengthens the family unit. Our respite services facilitated by Geezabreak achieve this outcome by dealing with specific issues and underpin the aim of strengthening the family unit.  

  • Where are you focusing your support right now?

Geeza Break’s objective is early intervention by offering short-term support to assist families through a particular crisis with longer-term support offered when circumstances demand this. However, due to the impact of COVID19 and imposed lockdown and restrictions it has become clear that families require longer-term support at this time and so we are focusing on offering more back-to-back respite sessions. This could be overnight respite linked into day respite sessions or several day respite sessions in one week. We are also providing more Family Support sessions to families providing both emotional and practical support to develop their parenting skills to include additional Life skills sessions to ensure families become more resilient – we have increased the resources within our Family Support Team to enable them to assist more families who are currently receiving no support. We have introduced a new mother and toddlers health and wellbeing group to combat mental, emotional and physical health, social isolation and to build confidence in parents and in children to enhance their physical and emotional development as well as improving their confidence and social skills whilst experiencing positive play. This is in additional to offering our core services.

  • How do poverty and trauma figure in the work that you do?

Unfortunately, we are seeing even more families who we work with facing extreme hardship and poverty. Families are needing to make very harsh decisions about what they spend their limited amounts of money on. Food, heating and clothing are not anything that anyone takes for granted. Many of our families face sanctions of their benefits and we are making regular referrals to the local food bank and assisting clients to apply for crisis grants. We see many children attending our school holiday play sessions presenting hungry with no lunch or snacks. Most of our clients do not have basic budgeting skills and are confused with the new Universal Credit System and what they are entitled to and how payments can be made.  Throughout Covid19 there was a high demand for food parcel as well as hygiene and cleaning products. We provided these as well as food vouchers and school uniforms and continue to provide weekly fruit and vegetable boxes for those who continue to really struggle.  We know that this has had an impact on parent’s mental health and the reactions we have had from parents when providing food or food vouchers is very humbling as they were literally at the stage of having no food for the children/themselves and our support was a lifeline.

Many of the children we work with are very traumatised due to the erratic lifestyles created by their parents’ addiction/s, mental health issues or domestic abuse in the household leaving then with overwhelming, conflicting and confusing thoughts, feelings and emotions. They are particularly affected by neglect due to the failure of their parent/s to meet their basic needs such as healthy food and clothing as well as emotion abuse caused by scaring, humiliating, being ignored and witnessing domestic violence. There are in some instances physical and sexual abuse. Through our School holiday programme, home activity respite sessions and Geeza Chance Project as well as Family Support Sessions we try to support the children as well as the parents who often were abused as children and now through domestic violence. During the Covid19 lockdown our Family Support Team saw a significant rise in the number of cases of domestic violence with many mothers and children fleeing the home with nothing.  Our Team assisted families in obtaining temporary furnished accommodation and as most fled with no personal belonging the team identified a list of each family’s needs and proceeded to obtain them as well as providing emotional support and sign-posting to other external agencies for support. All of this has a huge effect on people’s wellbeing. Our Staff team works closely with children and families to help reduce the effects of trauma and also to prevent future trauma from taking place.

  • How can funders support your work?

As with most charities securing funding is becoming harder with many Trusts and Foundation giving only annual grants which whilst gratefully appreciated does not assist in having funding already in place for planning in future years. Therefore funders can support our work by providing longer-term funding 3-5 years which allows time to establish for example a new project or else be used as a catalyst in attracting other funding. We are always keen to build relationships with funders so it will be good when funders are again able to come out and visit and see at first hand some of the work being carried out. I feel this gives them a better understanding of what is being delivered.

  • What changes would you like to see in your area of focus over the next 5 years?

The staff team is encouraged to continually develop effective working relationships with a network of related key agencies as well as sitting on many forums so that they stay informed of what is happening on the ground locally and which helps provide linked up support for families and a clear referral pathway to ensure that they continue to receive support empowering families to help themselves and enabling them to stay in their own communities and access local services that will continue to support them in their day to day lives. I feel that there needs to be more joined-up/collaborative work rather than charities working in their own silo.

Geeza Break is part of the Glasgow Families Support Partnership Consortium with 5 other charities funded by the National Lottery ensuring that families get linked up support. It is hoped that this model with be replicated throughout local authorities in Scotland. I feel that it is really important and much more effective to have this kind of linked up approach so that children and families have a clear pathway of support. I also think that at a local level it is important that workers from the different charities work together to share expertise and knowledge and really know what is happening on the ground by involving children and families in any new approaches required and creating projects/pieces of work which meet the changing needs of the children and families we all support.

  • What long-term system changes would best address the issue?

New approaches like the consortium and finding out what is the impact and then replicating or scaling up and sharing expertise and learning to make improvement.

Charities and other agencies really working together for the benefit of local children and families rather than piecemeal.

More preventative work being undertaken and properly funded rather than crisis intervention.

More Local Authority or Government funding in place to support charities like Geeza Break who are working hands-on at grassroots level but who continually need to firefight every year to secure funding to provide our core services. It does not help children and families to have services that they rely on removed because of funding cuts.

How Geeza Break's work fits with our 2020-2030 strategy

"As long-term supporters of Geeza Break, we admire their approach and fully recognise the importance of their work in the East End of Glasgow. Geeza Break works with families who are facing extreme hardship and their valuable services are aimed at providing both preventative and crisis support for families at the point they most need it.

Emotional wellbeing and positive relationships, especially in childhood, can provide powerful protection against poverty and trauma and this is exactly what GeezaBreak aims for. It is for this reason we are delighted to be continuing our support for Geeza Break under our new strategy and look forward to seeing their progress in the coming years."

Simon Denny

Funding Officer