Vulnerable young people in five London boroughs will now be able to access therapeutic programmes that can help them stay out of care thanks to a unique collaboration between the social sector, local government and social investors.

The pioneering initiative, the first of its type in London, has been jointly commissioned by the five London Borough Councils of Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Bexley, Merton and Newham, with support from the Big Lottery Fund using National Lottery funding.

Positive Families Partnership will work with over 350 young people involved in serious antisocial behaviour and/or substance misuse, who have been identified as being at risk of going into care. These vulnerable young people and their families will be offered access to therapeutic programmes designed to help address the young person’s behavioural issues and improve how the family functions. These programmes are intensive, holistic interventions, based on rigorous evidence.

The initiative will utilise three specialist delivery partners, who collectively bring over 25 years’ experience of implementing evidence-based programmes across the UK: Family Psychology Mutual, Family Action UK, and the South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

It has been structured as a social outcomes contract, which means Positive Families Partnership will be paid only if it succeeds in meeting certain milestones related to keeping the young person with their family and out of care.

Positive Families Partnership will benefit from management support from Social Finance UK and Bridges Fund Management, with the latter also providing over £4.5m to cover the up-front costs of the programme via a social impact bond.

The programme also benefits from lessons learnt via similar programmes, as David Burnett, Chair of Positive Families Partnership, explains: “When a similar programme was trialled in Essex, we found that the outcomes contract structure allowed us to invest in improving the way these therapies were delivered. This new partnership will allow us to draw on the lessons learned in Essex to deliver even better outcomes for these families.”

The number of children and families the programme could impact is huge, and all the partners are excited about the positive lasting impact they will be able to create.

Lisa Barclay, COO at Social Finance, said: “There are 10,000 children in care in London. With support, many of these young people could stay safely with their families at home. By bringing London boroughs together to access different therapies and programmes, we will be able to transform the lives of hundreds of children and their families across the city,” said Lisa Barclay, COO at Social Finance.

The programme will be managed by the London Borough of Sutton, and will operate initially in the five London Boroughs. If successful, the partners hope to scale up their innovative work by rolling it out to other boroughs over time.

Brigitte Squire, Programme Manager of Positive Families Partnership, said: “All of us believe these two therapies are the best way of keeping these vulnerable young people with their families and out of care. This pioneering new contract allows us to bring together three of the best delivery partners in the sector and provide a real solution to a pressing social challenge at scale. We look forward to proving the model in the coming years.”

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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