Case Study October 2021

Voices: Govan HELP

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 Govan HELP, a charity that exists to build the resilience, confidence, and self-worth of children and their families through the provision of a range of early intervention services.

"We would like to see more opportunities for families to flourish and support themselves out of poverty; funding to help families and communities to thrive, not just survive."
  • What is your organisation working to achieve?

Govan HELP is working to improve the lives of children and families living in Govan and the surrounding areas.  We deliver seven distinct services that aim to support families to overcome issues that are negatively impacting on family life.   Our experience is that families are often dealing with complex, cumulative issues that are further impacted by poverty and deprivation and our services aim to be flexible and responsive to meet the diverse needs of families.   Govan HELP strives to support families in a dignified manner, building positive relationships in the community and endeavouring to make long term change in the wider Govan area. 

  • Where are you focusing your support right now?

Like many organisations, we have seen a huge increase in the demand for our services since the start of the pandemic, with the number of families accessing support increasing from around 250 families a year to 668 families in the last year.  During lockdown and as restrictions eased, we adapted our services such as Family Support, Play Therapy and Children’s Befriending Services, using a combination of digital and direct support in the local community.  The Govan Pantry was a new development for Govan HELP, evolved from the foodbank project we set up at the start of the pandemic and it has helped us to create stronger links with families in the local community and more direct engagement at the same time as offering a practical solution to help address food insecurity.   Since launching, almost a year ago we have engaged with 1550 members from the local community, showing the scale of food poverty as a problem for families. 

Now that restrictions have lifted, our focus has been on the continued delivery of each of our seven services and re-establishing these on a face-to-face basis within the community.  Our team has grown over the last year, as we have been successful in securing funding, which has helped us to increase the capacity of our services and in turn support more families in line with the demand we are experiencing.   We are prioritising support for families who were already experiencing multiple deprivation, who we know have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic and continuing to develop solutions for families in line with the diverse needs of the local Govan community. 

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

Govan has one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse communities in Scotland.  It also has one of the highest rates of urban poverty.  Many of the families that we support in Govan have experienced multiple traumas over many years.  It is our experience and research shows that families living in poverty are less likely than more affluent neighbours to have access to resources that might mitigate against the impact of trauma.  We see on a daily basis how the traumatic context of urban poverty has pervasive effects that slowly erode parent and family function.  We recognise that more favourable outcomes for families affected by trauma and poverty are possible because we can offer access to tailored services, supports and practices which are trauma-specific, child and family-centred and respond to all levels of the system impacted by trauma.

  • How can funders support your work?

We welcome the greater extent of multiyear funding that we have been able to secure, this helps to provide is much needed, stability and security in what is often a complex picture of funding that makes up an organisation’s finances.  For a small organisation like Govan HELP, it is critical that we have a diverse range of funding to support our work on an ongoing basis, this helps to support better strategic planning which positively impacts on the delivery of services.    Unrestricted multiyear funding awards, like grants awarded by The Robertson Trust are critical for organisations like ours that have complex funding arrangements in place.  Unrestricted awards provide flexibility, and we appreciate the trust in organisations to use the funding in line with the best needs of the organisation. 

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

We would like to see better joined up provision for families, we already work closely with local schools and a range of statutory agencies and third sector partners to provide a more tailored package of support in line with the needs of families.  We would like to see more opportunities for families to flourish and support themselves out of poverty; funding to help families and communities to thrive, not just survive. 

For The Govan Pantry, which runs on a surplus food model, we would like to see policy level changes that reduce food waste, diverting food from landfill and providing greater supply of good quality food that is currently being wasted which projects like ours, can easily redistribute to families in need. 

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

Fundamentally we need families to be lifted out of poverty so that they never have to make decisions about heating or eating.  We know that for many of the families we support, they are experiencing difficulties just affording the essentials like food, clothes, and fuel and over the last year we have adapted our services to ensure we could meet these needs.  

Families need access to a wide range of interventions that can support them to lift themselves out of poverty and create better lives for their families, and the wider local community.  Current policy decisions such as the withdrawal of the Universal Credit top ups will have a hugely detrimental impact on family’s ability to meet their basic needs.  Our early intervention approach with families aims to identify and implement appropriate supports for families, providing coping strategies and interventions that help to improve their circumstances while preventing them from escalating to crisis point.  Specific funding to support more of this work, particularly in deprived communities would help to address the issues. 


How Govan HELP's work fits with our 2020-2030 strategy

“The Robertson Trust is long-term supporters of Govan HELP, having first funded them in 2005. We have been continuously impressed by their passion and we are fully aware of the incredible work they are doing to support children and families in their local area.

Throughout our strategy period, we are committed to growing our understanding of how and why certain people are at more risk of experiencing poverty, trauma, or both. There is growing evidence that trauma, particularly when experienced during childhood, can impact an individual’s long-term health, wellbeing, educational, and life chances. Govan HELP recognises the importance of early intervention and preventative services and this is what makes their work closely aligned to our strategic aims.

We are delighted to be continuing our support to Govan HELP under our new strategy and look forward to seeing their progress in the coming years.”

Lorna Wallace, Funding Officer