Alternatives Trust East London is based in Newham and was founded in 1994 as a professional and confidential service for anyone experiencing unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy loss following an abortion or miscarriage, or struggling because of a pregnancy-related issue.
Over the years the work has expanded and now includes:
Alternatives is a non-profit-making body and all its current services are free. The organisation adheres to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) codes of ethics and practice.
Alternatives’ vision statement is Holistic Help in a Hurting World. We Listen-Care-Support
Alternatives' mission statement is to provide:
Our services focus on the most vulnerable in Newham, usually the forgotten sector.
Support to Parents
We believe that anyone can be a good parent given the right support.
We aim to give that holistic, long-term support to women who face very difficult and complex circumstances. Around 150 families a year are supported through the We Are Family programme and initiatives that have grown from it. Thanks to generous donations of second hand baby equipment, clothes and food, we are also able to give practical help, along with advice and advocacy.
We Are Family
The weekly We Are Family Club for mums and their preschool children has been running since 2005. It offers informal teaching of life skills and parenting themes in a friendly, social environment with food, a crèche, celebrations and outings. Support workers provide one-to-one help with parenting, getting to appointments and issues like housing and immigration.
The group was named by the first mums who came. It reflects the fact that nearly all the women who take part are alone in the UK with no family of their own to support them.
‘The WAF club has been the family I never had. They have supported me in so many ways. I am so grateful to have them in my life and my child’s.’
‘It’s really, really, family’
A smaller version of the We Are Family Club for men exists to help them in their parenting and lives. They usually meet together monthly and support each other informally.
Practical Parenting Groups
Weekly, hands-on classes in term-time help parents who want to know more about bringing up their children.
Counselling is available to women from We Are Family, if they would like and would benefit. This can help people to deal with past trauma and move forward in life. All counselling abides by UKCP and BACP ethical frameworks and all counsellors are qualified.
For families ready to move on we provide:
The WAF CAF is a weekly pop-up café run by the We Are Family Co-op every Tuesday from 11 am – 2 pm in a local venue in Plaistow, successfully increasing the employability of mums who want to move on from We Are Family into paid work. More opportunities for enterprise are developing.
Some of the women who have been helped by We Are Family train to help other women in crisis as volunteer ‘Community Buddies’. Developed by a group of local charities as a way of keeping families out of poverty, this scheme also gives volunteers the confidence to move on into paid work.
“Now I just have hope. Before I don’t even have the hope, nowhere to go, I don’t know where to start from. But when you see people surround you and they can help you … you have the hope that everything will be sorted.”
“You never know when life puts some difficulties in front of you. You need someone to give you that strength, to hold your hand, to know you can go through this.”
Alternatives helps young people make better choices around relationships and sex. We deliver faith-sensitive lessons appropriate for Newham’s diverse secondary schools and colleges. We also have drop-ins for young people outside of schools and colleges to give support. Lots of information is available at www.fryp.org.uk
Alternatives continues its core work of providing specialist support and advice around pregnancy choices and pregnancy loss, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or adoption.
‘Thank you for being there for me. What a brilliant service you offer at Alternatives. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found you.’