Skip navigation

Launching the Family Monsters Project – celebrating 150 years of Family Action

09 January 2019

Our Chief Executive David Holmes CBE talks about the Family Monsters Project and what we have in store this, our 150th year supporting families to face their monsters

This is such a big year for Family Action as we are celebrating our 150th Anniversary throughout 2019!

When I reflect on Family Action’s history I am proud of our rich heritage – we were there at the very beginning of social work, we set up the first 28 Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and the first Labour Exchanges (now known as Job Centres). I am even prouder still of the fact that throughout our history Family Action has energetically changed, adapted and innovated in the way we provide services so that we are always meeting – and anticipating the needs of children, adults and entire families who rely on us so much.

For 150 years we’ve been providing families with practical, emotional and financial support to help them address and overcome their problems. Our founders Helen Bosanquet and Octavia Hill, began our work in 1869 by setting up the Charity Organisation Society to coordinate charitable giving so that support was reaching the poorest families.

Since the early days we have changed our name (twice) to Family Welfare Association and only since 2008 to Family Action. Throughout our history we have been building up our knowledge and improving how we work with families. All of our history and experience has resulted in the Family Action that you see today – still full of energy and determined to be there for families for another 150 years.

150 years is a long time. Family Action began in Victorian times when the workhouse was feared by all and the NHS, social care and welfare benefits did not exist. We’ve worked through three centuries. We’ve worked with families through two World Wars, numerous recessions and the creation of the Welfare State. We were working with families before the first car was invented and before the first aeroplane flew. So as you can imagine throughout our history we have gained lots and lots of experience working with families.

That is why we can say with confidence that while a lot has changed in the past 150 years, including how we support people, families today still face the same kind of pressures they always have, from worries about money to health concerns, to stress about work to lack of time for family. We know this is true because of our extensive historical archive showing how consistent the pressures on families have been across the decades and centuries.

“We want to start a national conversation about family pressures – our Family Monsters”

The Family Monster Project
So to mark our 150th anniversary we want to use our history and experience to talk about families more. And we particularly want to talk about how normal family pressures are and how important it is to talk about them. We want to start a national conversation about family pressures – our family monsters – to help all families to talk more easily and openly about their pressures and face them together.

Every family is likely to face pressures from time to time. Recent polling tells us that nearly 38 million people in Britain admit to facing pressures that affect their close family. These family pressures can get bigger and become overwhelming if we don’t talk about them.

In a world where so often we all have to try and pretend to be perfect wouldn’t it be great to just feel free to talk about our everyday pressures openly? To know that we won’t be judged in doing that and to know that everyone else has pressures too and that they are a normal part of life. We know that talking about pressures makes them smaller, talking about them within the family or with friends will usually make them more manageable or make them just go away. Even acknowledging the existence of those pressures to yourself is a positive first step. And if you don’t acknowledge your monsters then you won’t know when you need some help to deal with them. Most people would like to talk about their pressures, however things get in the way of doing that such as feeling embarrassed and fearing not being taken seriously or thinking other families need help more.

Join the conversation
We want to get everybody talking about their family monsters, no matter how big or small, so we can face them ourselves, together as families or share them with someone else who can help. When we face our monsters by bringing them out into the open and talking about them, they get smaller and easier to cope with.
Share your family monsters on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using our hashtag #MyFamilyMonsters.
For most of us simply talking about our family monsters is all the help we need. However if you’re struggling to cope or talk about your problems then we’re here to help, we have many different services available and even a dedicated phone in service our FamilyLine.

Watch four families in our new project’s film who are struggling with everyday pressures: