Family Nest Activities
The main goal is to assist young mothers, situated in the challenged area of Southern Ashkelon, to exit the desperate cycle of welfare, abuse and addiction, isolation and sense of lack of abilities- transforming the mothers from supported to supporters themselves, to other mothers in distress. One of the toughest problems facing women in distress situations is isolation and the sense of powerlessness stemming from not having a source of support and advice and, in most cases, not having accessibility to information and being unable to ascertain their rights. The “Nest” offers the women and children this personal support that they so desperately need. One of its recent achievements over the last few years has been setting up an Emergency Operations room during the last three wars targeted at Ashkelon, the recent Operation Protective Edge- this consisted of SOS support with food needs, clothing, transportation and psychological support to handle with the high levels of stress and trauma.
Need Statement; Many young mothers in Ashkelon find themselves in a vicious cycle, with no hope for the future, borderline suicidal, with complete disbelief in their individuality and capabilities, their children are lacking love, care, and are even being abused, and the local welfare and other support groups/associations have not been able to succeed in assisting these desperate mothers- this is the place where the Family Nest has succeeded over the last twenty five years to provide that extra attention and individual care. Nowadays, the local welfare services refer roughly fifty new mothers to the program each year, with an average of two to four children per mother.
The ability and structure of the program to support every single individual mother, through various tools, together with supporting the children and husband, to guide the young mothers towards a brighter life, a place where the mother understands she is important, has skills and capabilities and is important to her children, family, friends and community is an ongoing process. We have a retention rate of above 90% of the new mothers who join.
- The percentage of single parent families from new immigrant families is times 3 of the percentage of the veteran single parent families. Almost every fourth immigrant child to Israel or born to an immigrant family – lives in a single parent home. Ashkelon has one of the highest ratio of immigrant families with close to 40,000 immigrants 32.7% from the total population. In Ashkelon there are 16.0% single parent families- 1 in 6 children is living in a single parent family.
The target population & participants: around 70 young mothers, with at least one child under the age of six (serving over 200 children), from multiple domestic difficulties, whose children are being neglected and abused. With an involvement of around 70 full time volunteers (some are former mother participants). All of the women are referred to the project by the local municipal welfare services; following committee pre selection, a meeting with the mother and a trial period.
A Companion is a volunteer who dedicates a weekly home visit to a designated assigned mother within the program, this household interaction enables us to observe potential dangerous situations for the children and the mothers and get involved in time, in addition to develop a long term process with the mother to strengthen and build her self-confidence. Our companions meet with the mothers regularly on a much higher capacity than the local welfare services, the availability is much higher and the atmosphere is of a friend allows the mother to share with the companion life difficulties in a meaningful way.
The core of the Family Nest program, over the last 25 years, has been maintaining a high number of dedicated women mother volunteers assisting mothers in need. The program is creating social change and a major footprint across the whole community in the city, providing hundreds of dedicated volunteer hours. Around 20-25% of the volunteers of the volunteers are former mothers’ graduates of the program, who provide first-hand experience of being able to escape a vicious cycle of hardship and life challenges. This weekly “companion support” together with the ongoing workshops and activities, provides the mothers with increased empowerment, opportunities to develop employment & small businesses, sign up for higher education, and even get off welfare payments and become independent provider for the family, as well as support any ongoing issues and matters within the family unit.
The program it-self is managed by the Family Nest Director, a former graduate Mother in Need of the program, and in accordance of two part time Social Workers designated to the program from the Welfare Department. In addition to external lectures for the various workshops and dedicated volunteers.
The Family Nest operates multiple workshops on three levels; for the Mothers, for the Mother-Children interaction, and Volunteers. The Family Nest also carries out monthly educational and recreational trips for the mothers, the children and every quarter with the volunteers. The Family Nest host events and celebration during the major holidays, as well as supports the families with food packages.