Swindon problem family scheme rolled out to the nation praised by Government (From Swindon Advertiser)
Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Swindon problem family scheme rolled out to the nation praised by Government
THE Government says its national project to tackle problem families, which was developed from a pioneering Swindon scheme, is succeeding.
The LIFE Programme – building new Lives for Individuals and Families to Enjoy – was set up by Swindon Council in 2009 to deal with the 370 families in the town classed as the most troubled.
During a speech following the 2011 London riots, Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the success of the project, which often deals with families gripped by worklessness, substance misuse, and criminal activity, including domestic violence.
The programme, as well as those piloted in 16 other areas, helped develop the Government’s national Troubled Families programme, which pays councils up to £4,000 for each one they help, with the aim to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families over three years.
Since it was launched in April, the Government said that local authorities had identified 62,000 families to work with, were helping more than 23,000 and had received results-based payments for turning around 1,675.
Council leader Rod Bluh, cabinet member responsible for Swindon’s LIFE Programme, said the town had gained much recognition at Westminster and the south west for the project, which builds trust with families and works with them to tackle the root cause of problems, rather than just the effects.
He said: “It’s necessary for three reasons in my mind. Firstly it’s not nice for the families themselves – worklessness, lack of educational achievement, mental health issues, drugs issues, alcohol issues sometimes.
“It’s not desirable for the people themselves. It’s not desirable for public resources: spending huge sums of money trying to tackle the effects of the problem.
“And thirdly it affects communities. Therefore it’s a triple win if you are successful. You help the families, you help the communities and you help the public services in not shelling out huge financial amounts.”
The Swindon scheme is based in Lyndhurst Centre, Park North, and works with the police, housing, the NHS, Connexions and children and adult services.
The project initially helped 12 families, but has since been expanded to about 40, and Coun Bluh hopes to develop the groups skills and capacity with the aim of reaching all 370 families by 2015.
Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said: “The Troubled Families programme is on track, changing families for the better and reducing their impact on the communities around them.
“This programme is getting to grips with some of the hardest-to-help families in the country.”