STRUGGLING families across south Essex are to be given a boost with a new charity-run initiative.

The Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services is launching a new scheme called the peer mentoring service to help support households across Castle Point, Basildon and Rochford that are struggling to cope on a daily basis.

The charity is appealing for kind-hearted people who have parenting or family experience to volunteer and help get the pilot project off the ground. Each volunteer will be given full training and will provide assistance to families who are struggling with anything from financial troubles or unemployment, to parenting difficulties.

Volunteers will be carefully matched with a family for six months to help them get their lives on track and be better placed to deal with future challenges.

It is hoped between 60 and 70 volunteers will be recruited in the next 15 months to kick-start the project.

Families will be encouraged to use services which are readily available, such as after-school clubs and libraries.

Ros Allen is the newly appointed volunteer peer mentor co-ordinator and will be providing volunteers with training.

She said: “This role is ideal for someone who has experience either as a parent, grandparent or who has other family-related knowledge, to share their skills to really make a difference to a family that is struggling to cope.”

The work will follow on from support already provided by Essex County Council’s family solutions team.

If you would like more information, contact the voluntary service on 01268 638416 or e-mail

uk The first training day has been arranged for Tuesday, March 18.

Volunteers can expect to have their expenses reimbursed.