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  • Help and support

Family Life

Supporting vulnerable families
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A child’s early years are critical for developing strong, well rounded individuals. However, some children grow up in families that face difficulties such as poor health, unemployment, debt or housing problems. These difficult circumstances can have lifelong effects on a child’s development.

What if we could help families navigate through these situations? Over the years we’ve invested in projects which do just that. For example, one of our programmes in Scotland provided support to projects looking to help children to become successful learning and confident individuals and which helped families to become more resilient have to have better relationship with their families and communities.

Similarly, our UK-wide Improving Futures programme helps families through difficult situations by funding partnerships that offer joined-up support for families locally.

What works

Our research has highlighted a number of key areas which projects might find helpful to consider when supporting families with multiple and complex needs:

  • Ensure you have a key worker who can invest time in building relationships and trust with individual children, parents and families and provides a consistent point of contact over an extended period.
  • Engage with families in a safe or ‘neutral’ place of their choosing, for example at home or in a park or local café.
  • Don’t force parents to engage, instead let them come to you, for example, provide them with your contact details so they can get in touch when they are ready.
  • Take a whole family approach and support the family unit to take ownership of their issues and develop their own strategies to overcome them.
  • Develop the capacity and capabilities of the family and individuals gradually to help them make the best of their personal resources and manage their own lives.
  • Tailor solutions to fit individual circumstances and respond to families’ changing circumstances.
  • Develop strong local partnerships within the statutory and voluntary sector to help families to access and talk with services more effectively.

Find out more about what works in our top tips for the voluntary sector in establishing support for families with complex needs.

Also available is our evaluation report for Improving Futures and a summary of the report. We have a Welsh version of the report and Welsh language summary too.

This page brings together what we’ve learnt from many programme evaluations. The multiple and complex needs publication page has links to detailed information from these programmes.