Government voucher scheme a potential ‘childcare lifeline’ for single parents this summer
  • Scheme provides families with up to £500 to put towards mediation
  • Families can use funds to mend bridges with extended family

The government’s mediation voucher scheme could prove to be a lifeline for many couples in conflict who are struggling with childcare over the summer holidays, according to the national charity NFM (National Family Mediation).

While many romantic relationships breakdown due to disagreements between the couple themselves, it’s not uncommon for the feud to spill over to the rest of the family – including your ex’s parents, brothers and sisters.

And while that is upsetting for everyone involved, the impact is often most detrimental for the parents who miss out on the emotional and practical support that extended family can offer, and on children who may miss out on precious time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles.

To help tackle the issue, NFM which helps thousands of families every year to sort arrangements for children, property, finance and other important matters following a separation or divorce, is urging families to take advantage of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – a one-off financial contribution of up to£500 to put towards mediation.

The funding is available to separating families, with children, who want to resolve things amicably, outside of the courts, and can be claimed by both parents and extended family members. According to the charity, around 100 mediation cases a year are brought directly by grandparents.

Sarah Hawkins, the CEO of NFM, said: “Every year we work with thousands of people who are coming to terms with the breakdown of their romantic relationship, and in almost every single case the families are also trying to navigate what that means for their relationship with their ex’s family too.

“In a worst-case scenario, the parents have cut themselves off from contact with their in-laws, and in doing so have also – often inadvertently – made it difficult for the children to have any meaningful contact too.

“You only have to look at the current situation with Prince Harry, and the distance that has been created between King Charles and his grandchildren Archie and Lilibet, to know how detrimental that breakdown in communication can be.

“In mediation, we work with all parties to come to a solution that genuinely works for all. For the children, that usually means spending more time with their grandparents, and their aunts and uncles. For the parents themselves, it can mean a childcare lifeline that could prove invaluable during the six-week summer holidays.

“The voucher scheme is available for anyone who is wanting to discuss children matters following a divorce or separation, not just the parents themselves, and at NFM we also offer access to free child-inclusive mediation, for families wanting to take into consideration the wishes of the children.

NFM’s professional mediators are highly skilled third-party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their circumstances – including creating a parenting schedule that allows both parents to juggle work commitments, and enjoy quality family time.

In addition to the family mediation voucher scheme, Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation.