The Red Hen Project

The Red Hen Project

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Counselling / advice
  • Education
  • Local / community
  • Mental health
  • Poverty relief
  • Women

Other details

Geographical remit: 


Our mission is to create a supportive and self-reliant community where children can take advantage of every opportunity to contribute fully to society and fulfil their lives.

Our aims are to

    • improve life chances
    • help families move from dependence to independence
    • support vulnerable families and children
    • foster social integration, access and participation, thus reducing social isolation
    • nurture positive parenting skills in our families and the wider community
    • advance the education of children by helping to remove barriers to learning
    • encourage parental involvement in their children’s learning
    • prevent truancy and exclusions
    • build more positive relationships between families, their schools and communities
    • promote inter-agency liaison and co-operation
    • enable vulnerable families to seek appropriate support from other agencies
    • coordinate that support in a focused way

Why we exist

The Red Hen Project operates in the socially and economically disadvantaged areas of North Cambridge - an area where there is often a reliance on welfare and social care.  This can perpetuates the cycle for many families in our community; creating a ‘poverty trap’ for future generations.  We aim to break this cycle, by encouraging and supporting families from dependence to independence, through a range of strategies and activities.

What we do

Through the work of family workers, the Red Hen Project supports families in to enable them to

  • create independent support strategies
  • improve parenting and life skills
  • develop positive engagement with education
  • increase confidence 
  • reduce isolation

This, in turn, gives the community the capacity and resilience to tackle the roots of social problems at the earliest opportunity.

Who we help

The Red Hen do this by operating family support, through a home school liaison programme.  We work with children and families from five primary schools, Arbury, King’s Hedges, The Grove, Shirley, and Orchard Park, with a particular focus on children who are displaying emotional and behavioural difficulties.  The nature of our work, and the approach we take means that we not only work with the child’s parents and other carers but often with siblings of these children, who do not necessarily attend one of our five schools.

How we do it

The Red Hen Project focuses on the individual needs of each child and their families, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Almost anything that is making life difficult for children and parents can be tackled. We prioritise one-to-one support, complemented by peer support, and help families to become independent. This may include, but not be exclusive to

  • addressing behaviour difficulties, reluctance to attend school, routines, accessing out of school activities
  • helping families with housing, benefits or debts issues
  • supporting families and children through the challenges of relationship breakdown, domestic violence, mental or physical health

Our approach, our philosophy

Our approach is a family centred model, which is tried and tested by both Social Care and Health - informed by current and ongoing research.  We aim to deliver frontline services that can help families, children and young people by focusing on their needs.   This approach, and the use of the Early Help Assessment’ (formerly the Common Assessment Framework) is used to give effective early intervention.

We work within a multi-disciplinary framework and adopt a wide range of approaches as necessary. The objectives of the support are often multiple, they can include improved attendance and educational performance, reducing emotional and behavioural difficulties and increase empowerment and levels of participation of parents and families. 

We also adopt the principles of the Children and Families Act 2014 (formerly ‘Every Child Matters’), as we feel that these focus on positive outcomes and the themes are more relevant than ever.

Our outcomes

  • Children experiencing trauma, crisis or challenging behaviour to have improved emotional and physical wellbeing and improved engagement with their education
  • Parents facing family crisis to increase their parenting skills, confidence and emotional wellbeing
  • Schools, support agencies and statutory bodies to be better coordinated to meet local needs, and reducing isolation for families
  • Families to have improved links with others in their communities and are better able to support others with similar problems

Public benefit - our impact

Progress against these outcomes leads to an overall outcome of families in the community being happy and fulfilled, and able to make positive contributions to society, leading to self-efficacy in our communities.


To achieve our objectives we 

  • provide early intervention through one-to-one family support in the home
  • deliver our services in the heart of the community, and with the support of the community
  • co-operate and collaborate with other charities, voluntary bodies and statutory authorities

Our Activities

Red Hen operates from a rented office base at King’s Hedges Educational Federation but works flexibly across all five schools and the local Church Hall.  Our family workers spend the majority of their time out in the community, at local schools and in our families’ homes. 

Intensive support

We work with families one-to-one for seven months on average, but we have the flexibility for this to be in place for over a year, if needed.  We work together at home and in the community to improve family life and relationships.  Food poverty is a recurring issue.  We are authorised to refer to the foodbank, have a partnership with Fare Share to redistribute surplus food, and hold our own emergency fund to support families in crisis. 

Support in the community

These are crucial in developing relationships and reducing isolation.  We provide a comfortable, supportive non-threatening environment for isolated families, providing advice, guidance and signposting.  The weekly groups are a powerful tool for engaging hard-to-reach familiesand they are able to gradually build relationships on their own timetable.  We organise day trips to enable families to spend time together and build friendships leading to peer support, removing barriers such as lack of finance or transport, lack of confidence, language or disability. Both the groups and trips are instrumental in fostering peer-to-peer support.

Building skills through workshops and courses

Through our referrals we have identified a need for effective parenting strategies.  We run a mixture of one-off workshops and eight-week accredited courses, allowing inclusive participation.  The proven impact of these strategies is a calmer home life, better family communication, greater attainment and attendance at school.  In addition we run cookery courses, giving around six to eight families at a time the skills and confidence to cook healthy family meals on a tight budget.

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