More troubled families helped to get their lives back on track

Published: Wednesday 30th July 14

New Government figures show that Wandsworth is the top performing authority in London when it comes to helping troubled families get their lives back on track.

Data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that the council has successfully “turned around” more than 63 per cent of the borough’s most troubled families – the best success rate in London and one of the highest in the country.

There are 595 families in Wandsworth who have been identified as needing targeted help and support.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of the council’s family recovery project (FRP) team, 417 of these households have had their lives transformed for the better and are now having little or no involvement with the police and the criminal justice system, their children are now attending school regularly and their health and welfare has been significantly improved.
 
Work has also begun in tackling the problems that affect the remaining 178 families and supporting them on the road to becoming better citizens.

Troubled families are defined as those whose lives may be affected by any number of social problems including drink and/or drug addiction, domestic violence, educational underachievement, worklessness, poverty, child neglect, truancy, persistent criminality and anti-social behaviour.

Each individual family whose lives are successfully turned around represents a potential saving to taxpayers of around £29,000 a year - from reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour, a fall in the number of children that need to be taken into care, fewer visits to A&E, fewer interventions from the police and the courts and by getting adults off benefits and back into work. 

The Wandsworth programme works by assigning a dedicated worker to engage with a whole family on all of its problems, such as ensuring that the children attend school, appointments are met and appropriate services are accessed.

Crucially, all of the public services working with the families enjoy better co-ordination, ensuring that all the different agencies work much more closely together to tackle the root cause of problems rather than just the symptoms.

Michele Harris, who heads the Wandsworth FRP and was recently awarded an MBE for her work in this area, said: “We work with families who often have very deep-seated problems and find it difficult to cope or find positive ways out of their situations.

“Our task is to help them address these difficult situations and help them to change their behaviour. The am is to improve not only their lives and the lives of their children, but also those of their neighbours and the wider community.”

Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “This work is vital in helping these families improve their lives, become better citizens and contribute more to society.“

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Recent comments

I am Wandsworth resident and owner of a new TV indie. I think Wandsworth 's record in helping troubled families through hard times does present legal issues but could work really well for a one off doc. Please get in contact with me and let's have a cup of tea together to work out how to get on this on BBC One
Barbara Altounyan

10 August 2014