At the Family Centre children are our future. They will be the next generation of environmental stewards, working to mitigate the damaging impact of climate change. They will take over the important work currently underway in the areas of racial and social justice. They will be at the head of our governments, schools, charitable foundations, businesses and industries. And like us, they will eventually pass their legacy on to their children. That they will inherit today’s challenges and occupy tomorrow’s leadership roles makes the health and wellness of children and their families of the utmost importance. This is where Bermuda’s Family Centre comes in.
Established in 1990 by former executive director Martha Dismont, the Family Centre is firmly rooted in a culture of compassion and support for children facing education, social and family challenges. Initially focused on academic tutoring, the Centre expanded to provide therapeutic programming to allow children to reach their maximum learning capacity. “The services provided by the Family Centre are critical to the overall health of the community,” says current executive director Sandy De Silva. “Our children and youth are suffering from challenges such as anxiety, depression, anger, loss, abuse and neglect. If these challenges are left unchecked, families and schools become stressed and overwhelmed, and children miss out on the unconditional love and care that they need.”
A registered charity committed to supporting the positive development of Bermuda’s at-risk children, their families and the larger community, the Family Centre offers a continuum of care with three pillars: prevention, outreach and intervention. Prevention focuses on advocacy and capacity building, which means getting out in front of the issues that affect families and speaking for those whose voices have not been heard. Outreach is seen in the community programmes that help to develop confident young people by teaching teamwork, decision making, leadership, social skills and self-regulation. Intervention is available through the counselling services that allow children and families to explore emotional, social and behavioural challenges in a safe environment with highly trained professionals.
“Our counselling services help families create a healthier home life,” says De Silva. “We provide one-on-one support to children, crisis management support, home coaching, school-based interventions, therapeutic groups and intensive case management services. We understand the stress that our families are experiencing and work hard to address their core needs. Fundamentally, we know that healthier families make for a healthier Bermuda.”
Recognising the prevalence and impact of stress and trauma on children, youth and families, the Centre’s staff are trained in a variety of evidence-based and trauma-informed models. They also work with schools and social service agencies to ensure children and families receive the wraparound support required to realise their full potential. The Centre’s Beyond Rugby programme and Youth Leadership Academy play key roles in that personal growth and development, helping to build greater resilience and the skills to overcome new challenges and obstacles.
What are the long-term goals of the Family Centre?
“The more we partner with other organisations that benefit children and families in crisis, the better,” says De Silva. “We cannot do this work alone, especially during times of economic crisis, ongoing social inequality and injustice, and intergenerational trauma. We want to work in closer cooperation with other social service agencies, government, schools and employers. We are also committed to providing creative and timely options, such as our virtual ‘Mentally Healthy Bermuda’ initiative to support families during this pandemic.”
Of course, the ultimate goal is for children and families to develop the skills they need to be successful and to sustain that success for future generations. Stronger families raise children who will become capable adults ready to lead Bermuda into the future. To help make that possible, the scope of the Family Centre’s work is islandwide: services are available to any Bermuda resident who meets the criteria and has the need.
The Family Centre is an internationally accredited Bermuda charity. Its mission is to strengthen families to create a healthier Bermuda for our children. Sunshine League House, 27 King Street, Pembroke – www.tfc.bm – firstname.lastname@example.org – 232-1116