Ministry opens its doors for all families seeking counselling

Ministry of Community Development launched ‘Taalouf’ initiative across the UAE for both Emirati and expat families

Dubai: Families can now approach the Ministry of Community Development to get help in the resolutions of disputes and seek guidance under a new initiative launched by the ministry.

On Sunday, the ministry announced the launch of the “Taalouf” (harmony) initiative, a nationwide family counselling programme targeting both Emirati and expatriate families to ensure community cohesion.

The service, to be offered through a variety of channels that guarantee full privacy, was rolled out as part of the National Family Policy launched in March by the UAE Cabinet.

Sana Mohammad Suhail, undersecretary at the Ministry of Community Development, said the service is among three initiatives adopted during the annual meeting of the Government of the UAE in 2018 and will be accessible in every emirate to ensure families can benefit from it.

“The goal is to prepare families in the UAE to cope with the stresses of life and promote the stability of family life,” she said. “Seeking family counselling is still not common in the culture here, but through this programme we hope people will become more familiar and aware that they could get help and guidance without the need to go to court.”

A total of seven social development centres across the UAE will run a one-on-one counselling service, she added, including a hotline number to receive calls from families seeking help. Electronic counselling has also been activated through the ministry’s website.

“In its early stages, the service will run by a total of 13 family counselling experts and will be available for Arabs. We do hope to expand it in the future. Our strategic partnerships with several relevant bodies who provide family counselling is crucial to achieve a stable society.”

During a trial phase in 2017, Suhail said the ministry, who mostly received Emiratis, has been able to solve 70 per cent of the cases they received, pointing out to the success of the service.

Suhail stressed the importance of the family counselling services offered by the ministry in strengthening emotional bonds within the family and reducing the divorce rate in the country.

“It will not only serve to help tackle problems occurring in dysfunctional families, the service gives guidance to single parents who may have teenagers going through a phase, for example,” she said.

She also shed light on the need to have more trained cadres in the UAE that can provide family counselling, adding that the ministry is in the process of launching programmes to provide training. The ministry has also invited experienced volunteers over the age of 50, registered at the UAE Volunteers platform, to support the initiative.

Meanwhile, Wahida Khalil Darwish, director of family development department at the ministry gave further details on the three Taalouf family counselling channels, saying that families can contact the Toll free number 800623, which will be open for inquiries from Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 2:30pm.

The line is staffed by specialised consultants that propose solutions to family issues and advise callers how to maintain positive relations within the family

“The ministry has set up dedicated spaces at its social development centres to provide one-on-one sessions with family counsellors for those who wish to discuss their problems face to face in a private setting. Alternatively, The we have also created a page on its website that responds to family counselling queries within one business day,” she said.

The one-to-one service is already running on select days of the week across seven centres in Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Khor Fakkan.

Taalouf aligns with the objectives of the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021 and the National Family Policy, which aims at raising awareness of the family’s rights and duties to ensure their contribution to sustainable social development. It includes six components — marriage, family relations, balance of roles, child protection, family protection, and re-engineering the provision of family services to achieve family happiness.

Box: Seven Centres offering one-to-one services

Social Development Centre in Jumeirah, Dubai

Social Development Centre in Jalfar, Ras Al Khaima

Social Development Centre, Ajman

Social Development Centre in Umm Al Quwain

Social Development Centre in Fujairah

Social Development Centre in Khorfakkan

Social Development Centre in Kalba.

Toll free number 800623

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