WALES/ENGLAND – New mark to help separated parents choose the best support to work together in the interests of their children

Organisations that help support separated families can apply for their work to be independently assessed and recognised.


Two charities, Relate and Family Lives, are among the first organisations to be awarded a new mark for their work in helping support separated families.

The ‘Help and support for separated families’ (HSSF) mark is designed to help parents navigate the range of support available to them and choose, with confidence, a high-quality outlet to help.

The mark is awarded following an independent assessment of organisations to show they meet a strict set of standards for promoting parents working together after relationship breakdown. Organisations need to show that they actively work to help parents collaborate constructively to arrange things for their children.

Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:

Breaking up can be difficult enough as it is. That is why we are doing everything that we can to help separated parents to find organisations that will best help them to reach successful arrangements for their children.

I am delighted to introduce this new mark, which will complement the millions of pounds we’re investing into support services for separated parents to do what’s right by their children.

The government has already awarded funding to 7 voluntary and third-sector organisations to give around 280,000 separated families innovative and targeted help to collaborate in their children’s interests. These include parenting classes for the hardest-to-reach teenage mums and dads as well as online counselling and coaching. It’s the first of 2 rounds of funding awards, as part of up to £20 million dedicated to supporting separated families.

The first ever one-stop shop web app for separated parents, Sorting out separation, launched 9 months ago and offers a diagnostic tool which provides bespoke help to mums and dads. It is hosted and supported by a wide range of family charities and also features helpful videos on everything from financial, employment, housing and legal matters.

On the award of the HSSF mark, Ruth Sutherland, Relate’s Chief Executive, said:

We are very proud to have achieved this award. Relate is there for everyone, at every stage of their relationships, and it is vital that separated families get the best support available to ensure they can maintain healthy relationships with one another.

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives’ Chief Executive, said:

It is important that separated parents are supported to find a way of communicating. Every year we receive thousands of calls from separated parents struggling to make contact with their children or make relations with a former partner work. That we have been awarded the HSSF mark is testament to our ongoing commitment to this.

How to apply for the mark

Apply for the HSSF mark on the ‘Sorting out separation’ website.

Organisations awarded the mark so far

Child Maintenance Options, which has helped around 150,000 parents reach their own family-based arrangements on child support

Family Lives is a family support charity offering parenting advice and family support, online chat, helpline (0808 800 2222) and through tailored support around issues such as bullying, special educational needs, and support for specific communities.

ProContact support families to deal with issues or concerns about shared parenting.

Relate has a network of 70 Centres across the country with more than 2,000 qualified counsellors. It offers support at every stage of relationships, including supporting those who have decided to separate to do so in the healthiest way possible, and to help separating or separated parents to protect their children as far as possible from the impact of the separation. Many Relate Centres also offer mediation, which helps separating couples to agree the terms of their separation and can help to avoid expensive legal fees.

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