Who are they?

TalkFIRST is a CIO set up to address conflict within families that compromises family life and the wellbeing of children and young people. They believe there is nothing as vital as supportive, strong relationships; however, these can often be fragile with many different factors having an impact. They want all families to be able to access support; to communicate effectively and work out what is best at an early stage, improving chances for all involved.

What do they do and why?

Children benefit hugely from healthy relationships with key adults in their lives; reducing the likelihood of mental health difficulties and problems in school. Sound relationships mean young people are less inclined towards crime, alcohol/drug use and risky behaviour and can aspire and achieve.

"Thank-You so much, without your services, time, and professionalism I couldn’t imagine how my family would be right now. You enabled myself, my ex-partner and our daughter to sit down together and have the difficult conversations which had been put off for 2 years! … Coming to TalkFIRST has prevented the need of us going through solicitors and court proceedings." Customer

TalkFIRST’s core work is to provide family mediation to help families communicate; listen to each other and work out what they need to do to have happier family lives – whether they live together or separately and regardless of background or level of need.TalkFIRST have worked across the Wigan Borough for 5 and a half years and have helped over 200 families address a range of issues, such as:

  • Parents working out how to co-parent following separation

  • Teens and an estranged parent talking about how to re-establish a relationship

  • 2 sets of parents/step parents deciding how they can best support their troubled teenager

  • Whole family groups wanting to reduce conflict and get on better together

They also provide 1:1 and group parenting work based on the Solihull Approach, helping parents to better understand their children, improve communication and family life. This can be either a stand-alone offering or complimentary to mediation.

“Working with GM Social Investment has been a real boost to our small charity. Information, guidance and support has made it possible to access the investment that will be the catalyst for meeting the needs of more families, helping repair damaged relationships and improving outcomes for children, young people and their families; paving the way for growth and sustainability. We are delighted to have this opportunity and excited to begin to realise the vision of what we can achieve." Tracy Sheppard, CEO/Project Manager – TalkFIRST

What funding did they receive and how did it help them?

With support from GM Social Investment, TalkFIRST can put into action, plans to grow and increase sustainability. Staff will be able to work through the Family Mediation Council accreditation process, accessing essential training, guidance and support; a prerequisite to taking on mediation for separating/divorcing couples who wish to finalise arrangements for children, finance and property. They will be able to launch this new strand of business with the support of marketing expert, focusing on extending their reach beyond the Wigan Borough into surrounding towns and communities.

What impact has the funding had?

At the time of writing the staff at TalkFIRST were accessing training to be able to deliver the new service.

For more information about TalkFIRST, visit

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