FAMILIES and footballers are giving full marks to a ground-breaking charity project which is helping boost school attendance.
Improving Futures was launched by the Big Lottery Fund in September 2012, to help families with complex needs.
It has worked with more than 114 families across Sunderland, encouraged 43 children to go to school more regularly and helped eight adults find work.
Co-ordinated by SAFC’s charity, the Foundation of Light, the project works with voluntary and community groups to offer counselling, housing and financial advice, job hunting and parental guidance.
Neil Heckels, from the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Every child deserves the best start in life and Big Lottery Fund is proud to be funding the Improving Futures programme.
“The Foundation of Light project shows what can be achieved through tackling challenging issues in new and exciting ways, using the power of football to break down barriers and get support to people who otherwise might be overlooked by other local services.”
To celebrate its success, families from Southwick were invited to attend a special event at Southwick Primary School, where they met SAFC stars Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson.
Pauline Walmsley, community co-ordinator at the school, said: “Working with the Foundation of Light and the Improving Futures programme has really helped the whole community.
“It’s been instrumental in helping families engage services that have genuinely helped people change their lives for the better, and our family day was a great way to celebrate these achievements bringing the whole community together.”
Lee Crosby, from the foundation, said: “With the support of the Big Lottery Fund and schools like Southwick Primary, we have been able to help many families across Sunderland, many of whom are in very challenging circumstances.
“It’s a privilege to be involved in a project which spearheads a true community partnership, and brings many groups together for the common cause of improving lives in Sunderland, and we aim to expand this even further across the area in the coming months.”