Bradford and Leeds councils have been jointly awarded £3.5 million to help tackle social exclusion and provide early intervention to families at risk.
The funding has been awarded as part of Building Better Opportunities, a joint programme between the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund. The Stronger Families programme will provide early intervention to those families who may have a range of barriers that can impact on social inclusion and provide opportunities to move into employment. Stronger Families will offer tailored individual support through a keyworker and adopting ‘think family’ and restorative approaches.
In Leeds the project will build on the successful Families First programme, which launched in May 2012 and has had great success at supporting over 5,000 families. An additional 1,500 families have already been provided with early help in Bradford through their Families First programme which has been active since September 2014. The new programme will support 1,081 families across the two cities.
Stronger Families will work in partnership with 24 third sector partners across the region and will work closely with Job Centre Plus, food banks and existing Early Help services to target those families who are most at risk of social exclusion. The programme is aimed at targeting resources on families who are showing early signs of a problem before it escalates and provide a range of support through a trusted keyworker.
This project aims to build on lessons learnt from Think Family, ESF Families with Multiple Needs and Families First. It aims to work with families before they start to cause anti-social behaviour problems, risk criminal records, come to the attention of police or have their children excluded from school, all of which may result in major barriers to gaining and sustaining employment. It will focus on three main areas for those families at risk of becoming a troubled family: prevention: to prevent or minimise the risk of problems arising; early intervention: targeting resources on individuals or groups at high risk, or showing early signs of a problem, to try to stop it occurring; early remedial treatment: intervening once there is a problem, to stop it getting worse and redress the situation.
The work would be tailored to each family but possible activities could include: help with building resilience and skills; helping families to access learning and employability support to bring people closer to the labour market; support to improve people’s financial capability and; support to help them find and keep employment.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said:
“This funding is great recognition of the strength of the bid from Leeds and Bradford, and will enable us to support more families to tackle the root of their problems which can too often spiral out of control and affect future generations.
“We will be building on existing good practice across the city, bringing all agencies, third sector partners and council services together. We have a strong history of working with third sector partners and look forward to working with Barca who will be the hub in Leeds and other delivery partners to improve outcomes for families.
“The additional support we are able to offer vulnerable families has a positive impact on the whole community. Stronger Families will bring added value to our existing Early Help services and extend our offer of support to vulnerable families.”
Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing said:
“It is excellent news that families across the Bradford district will benefit from this funding to support them with training and help them into local job opportunities in our district. We know the council will have less money in the future and we need to look at new ways of delivering services.
“We have started to put the foundations in place for our Early Help offer for families in the district and our Stronger Families programme will add to this. Early Help is about offering struggling families the right support early, so that small problems they may have don’t become big ones. We want families to be resilient so they can resolve problems, benefit themselves and contribute to their community in a positive way. We look forward to working closely with our delivery partners and Barnardo’s who will be hub and other voluntary and community organisations locally that are helping to deliver this.”
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes.
Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
For more information visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk