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'Parents struggling to give children emotional support they need' - Charity 

Though they may be physically present, more and more parents are becoming 'absent in the home' and struggling to give their children the emotional support they need due to long work hours and financial pressures

Parents struggling to give chi
That's according to a Baptist-based charity which helps young people cope with parental separation and loss.

This Way Up exists to support young people who are struggling with life changing events, and operates out of Olton Baptist Church in Solihull.

Several members of OBC are involved in the charity either as volunteer mentors or as trustees and the church supports the organisation by providing office space and finance.

It started in 2006 and has experienced a growing number of referrals in the last couple of years. Its chief executive Pete English said that increasingly he was hearing stories of parents who were struggling to emotionally support their children. 'We've been hearing much more about absent parents,' he said.

'They might be physically there but after working long hours they struggle to interact with their children. 'TV dinners, lack of family time, it all means that children and parents are distancing themselves from each other.

'This causes numerous difficulties and adds to breakdown of relationships, boundaries and children are lacking the emotional support they need from their parent and looking for it elsewhere.'

Pete said the difficult financial climate was playing a major role. 'The pressures of family life are always difficult, but financial pressures add tension to relationships that may have been struggling already.

'These pressures may also mean that a parent is working longer hours, working away from home or de stressing and using coping strategies, such as alcohol, that increase the tensions within a family home.'

The charity, which relies on donations and small grants, receives referrals from GPs, mental health professionals, schools and parents.

In the 2010 - 11 academic year This Way Up had 189 referrals, up from 124 the previous year and 101 in 2009. By the end of February it already had 
108 referrals.

As well as increased family pressures in this difficult economic climate, the general support for young people has dropped too, said Pete.

'A large number of small charities are making significant cuts to frontline provision services of young people - youth workers, schools workers and support services, which creates more work for those small charities who are stretched to capacity as the number of young people seeking support is increasing monthly.'

Despite the increased workload, Pete said the charity is glad to be in a position to help. 'Often we are the only adult who listens without giving a judgement, interrupting or telling a young person what they are doing wrong.

'Often the process of working through their emotions with an adult who just listens is hugely empowering and rewarding.

'The other day a teenage boy told me, "I've realised how I feel now, I feel so relieved to talk about it". Another girl has spoken about her feelings after her dad died, suddenly saying "I've never spoken about this to anyone, its really helpful".'

This Way Up also enables churches to reach out to their local secondary schools through training facilitators to deliver its Lost and Found programme, a course for young people affected by parental separation and loss. For more information visit http://www.twup.org.uk or phone 0121 689 2912

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