Family and relationship problems

The majority of people will experience some problems or issues within their family at some point during their life. Ill health, disability and retirement can all bring their own worries and concerns. This section contains information on a range of family problems along with details of organisations that may be able to offer you advice and support.


Abuse can happen to anyone and it can take many different forms. Financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse (also referred to as domestic violence), and neglect are all ways in which a person can suffer in an abusive relationship. The abuse may take place within the family, or it may be a carer, friend, or anyone else who comes into contact with you and your family.

If you are worried about someone who may be suffering abuse, or if you are experiencing this yourself, there are people who can help you.

See our articles on Adult abuse, Domestic abuse and Personal safety for details of where you can go for help and advice.


If you or someone in your family suffers from an addiction it can be an extremely difficult situation to live with. Alcohol or drug dependency, or an addiction to gambling, can cause huge problems for everyone involved. Finances, health and relationships may all suffer as a result of the addiction. There are many organisations that can help if you, a family member or a friend is affected by any of these issues.


Bereavement is something which happens to almost everyone at some stage in their lives. The death of someone close to you, whether it was expected or sudden, can be an extremely difficult time, and you will experience many different emotions. If your partner dies you may find that even after the initial grieving process you are still finding it difficult to cope with things such as living on your own and dealing with finances. Our section on  may help you through the stages of your loss.

If your bereavement has left you feeling lonely or isolated, the following sections on this website may give you some ideas about ways in which to meet new people and make good use of your time:

A bereavement may lead to disputes in some families around issues such as inheritance. You may find it useful to read our section on Wills for details of where to get advice.


Debt can be a problem at any age, but you may find that as you get older you struggle to manage on the income that you have. There are many factors that can lead to debt problems, including retirement, illness, disability, divorce and bereavement. Inadequate pension provision can also lead some older people to use credit for essential household goods, resulting in debts with high interest repayments.

If you or a member of your family are affected by debt problems, there are organisations that can offer help and support.


If you, your partner, or another family member suffer from a significant health problem, this can have a major impact on your relationship. A physical disability or mental health problem such as depression or anxiety can be extremely distressing and demanding if they affect someone you love. If you are suffering from a health problem yourself, you may be finding it difficult to cope and need to rely on your family to help you.

See our Health section for information about health issues and where you can go for advice.

Looking after someone

Looking after someone can be very stressful, and even more so as you get older. It may be that you have always cared for a disabled family member, or it could be that you have only taken on a caring role more recently. Ill health or disability may mean that your partner or parent now requires physical care or supervision. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are common health problems in later life and can be especially difficult to cope with.

There is support available in Newcastle for carers. Read more on InformationNOW about


Children North East are running a new programme, called Today’s Teens Tomorrow’s Teens which will empower families to communicate effectively and to have healthy relationships with one another.  Delivered by experts in the field of family support, schools have found that this intervention improves school attendance, behaviour and emotional wellbeing.

Barnardos support children, young people and families. They offer counselling and support services. They can help with:

  • parenting advice
  • mental health
  • bereavement
  • family stress or break-down
  • neglect
  • back to school
  • discrimination
  • barriers to accessing and using services

Families Need Fathers is a charity that supports dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation. They offer information, advice and support services helping parents to achieve a positive outcome for their children.

Action for Children support children and young people by providing practical and emotional acre and support. They also provide a free parenting helpline including informative articles and a 1 to 1 live chat.

Relationship support

Arguments between couples are a normal part of any relationship and if resolved in a constructive way can be a good example for children. However, if your arguments are frequent and not resolved it can lead to a breakdown in communication. This can have a negative impact on your relationship and your children’s wellbeing. Support is available.

See it differently helps you to understand and find a way through relationship problems. It uses videos to help you see the problem you’re facing differently. When arguing with a partner or ex-partner, we can get caught up in the heat of the moment. At times like these, it’s difficult to find a way forward. They want to help you see and do things differently.  You can: access extra support from a list of organisations, chat with one of their listeners through their private and free web text service – the Listening Room.  You can chat with other families in a similar situation to yourself and share tips and experiences.

Click offers relationship support for help with building trust, parenting together or apart, sex and intimacy, recovering from lies or cheating, break ups and much more. Our relationships affect every aspect of our lives. To learn how to make yours work better, create a free account – share questions and stories with the community, try fun and helpful activities, or get private support from a Click listener.

Between Us is an app to help you have a better relationship with your partner now or in the future. The app helps individuals and couples to understand better what’s going wrong in your relationship and do something about it. Download the app from your app store for

  • a range of exercises and tips
  • videos
  • information

The Family Partner Team at Newcastle City Council help people having problems in their relationships. They can talk to you to find out what kind of support you need and help you to get free specialist support. Parents with children aged 4 to 12 years can get help to improve their communication and problem-solving skills, anger and depression management and find ways to give and get support. They can help with intensive relationship support.


Retirement can be an exciting new phase in your life, especially if you are in good health and financially secure. Age UK’s guide Planning your retirement: money and tax may be helpful in giving advice about your finances.

You may find that you feel socially isolated now that you no longer have work colleagues to talk to during the day and your week has less structure. This can put a strain on relationships. Our section on Leisure has lots of ideas on how to fill your new-found leisure time.

Family mediation

Family mediation is a way of resolving disputes after separation or divorce. In mediation, couples are helped to look for their own solutions to their disputes. Family mediation is also increasingly being used to solve other types of family problems, such as:

  • disputes between a parent and child
  • disagreements over care for elderly or seriously ill relatives
  • grandparents contact with grandchildren
  • homelessness caused by family arguments

Both parties explain their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator. The mediator is impartial, which means that they are not on anyone’s side. They are there to help both parties, unlike a solicitor who only works for one party in each case. Sometimes the mediator will suggest a way of solving a problem to help to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties, but they will never tell either party what to do.

The mediator can give information about law but cannot give anyone advice about what to do. You should go to see a solicitor if you need legal advice. The solicitor can help you before, in between sessions and when agreement has been reached, so that you know that whatever has been agreed is fair to you.

To find a Family Mediation Service near you, visit the Family Mediation Council website.

Marriage counselling

Relate offers counselling and training services that help to build stronger relationships for anyone dealing with breakups, arguments, affairs, sexual problems, step-families, retirement, a new baby or anything else that affects relationships.

Find relationship counselling in your area on the NHS website.

The Muslim Initiative is a community association based in Newcastle upon Tyne who offer marriage and family guidance counselling.

Separation or divorce

When a relationship breaks down and you decide you need to separate, support is available.

Read more on InformationNOW about separation and divorce

Mental health support

There are local mental health support services in Newcastle.

Patient Information Centre has a range of easy to read mental health self help guides available to download for free.

Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health and learning disability services across Newcastle.

Legal advice

North East Law Centre is a not for profit legal practice that offers free family law advice to Newcastle residents.

Northumbria University Student Law Office offer free legal advice to Newcastle residents.

Advicenow produce guides that are easy-to-read and practical. They explain what you need to know, where you need to go, and what you need to do to solve your problem.

Growing older without children

Ageing Well Without Children AWWOC raises awareness and understanding of the issues affecting people ageing without children.

Family breakdown or estrangement

Stand Alone provides support for those affected by family estrangement. If you would like information and advice about family estrangement, they have a range of online guides to help with different situations.

Barnardo’s supports children, young people and families. They offer counselling and support services which include:

  • Orchard Mosaic Recovery project
  • Newcastle Young People’s Support Team
  • Young Dads Work, an early intervention and prevention service to young dads and parents and children at risk of entering the safeguarding or looked after arena
  • LGBTQ+ Whole Family Approach pilot supporting LGBTQ+ children and young people up to the age of 19; from 1 to 1 support, group and family work
  • The Independence Project supporting young people in Newcastle, aged 12 to 18 years, for up to 6 months through a 1:1 social prescribing and connecting model
  • Boloh a free telephone helpline and web chat for adult asylum seekers or a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic parents or carers. Their advisors speak English, Urdu and Hindi. They provide advice, signposting and emotional support. They can help with advice about respiratory problems and Hong Kong nationals settling in the UK.


Information NOW section on Grandparent issues

Last updated: November 10, 2022