Fourteen families from Maitland are among the 30 who have signed up for the City of Cape Town’s Strengthening Families programme. They attended their first session last week.According to a City statement, the programme is aimed at improving the communication and relationships within families. It forms part of the social development and early childhood development department’s broader substance abuse prevention programme. Suzette Little, Mayco member (North), says: “As a caring City, we realise that to tackle social issues such as gang violence and drug abuse, we need to start at the heart of our communities. That heart is the family and we need them to be resilient in the face of these societal ills plaguing so many communities. Families need help not just to communicate and understand each other better, but often also to make more informed and better choices. Poor choices are often a result of discord within families, which then spills over into communities.”Siyabulela Mamkeli, Mayco member (Central), says he is heartened by the families who signed up for the programme. He says it is not always easy to admit when you need help, and these families are very brave in taking the step. He says the Strengthening Families programme uses practical and interactive methods to encourage communication between parents and children and that it has proven results – participants are less likely to use drugs in adulthood.The programme covers topics for parents and caregivers such as setting limits, dealing with drugs and encouraging good behaviour. Meanwhile, children are taught how to deal with peer pressure, how to appreciate their parents and to have goals and dreams.The programme, which started in 2013, will be rolled out to 18 more suburbs by the end of the City financial year.