by Our Staff Writer | Greenwich
More Royal Borough of Greenwich families than ever are being supported to tackle the issues which are causing problems in the home, and holding them and their children back from achieving success at work or school.
|Cllr Denise Scott-McDonaldCabinet Member for Community|
Well-being and Public Health
The Families 1st team was set up by the Royal Greenwich in 2013 with an ambitious target to turn around the lives of 790 Greenwich families experience a range of problems including unemployment, anti-social behaviour and truancy.
The scheme provides families with a dedicated key-worker to give intensive support to the whole family to get to the root causes of problems within the home. The key-workers provide high levels of support, but also set challenging targets for family members to achieve in order to help them get their lives back on track.
The support is reduced as families gain the skills and confidence to maintain the achievements they've made and continue to go forward without the need for extra help.
The initial goal of supporting 790 families was met ahead of target and was praised by Eric Pickles MP (the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government), and the Director General of the Government's Troubled Families Task Force, Louise Casey, when they came to meet local families who have transformed their lives after receiving the extra help they needed.
As a result of the effective way the Families 1st team worked, the Royal Borough was named as one of just over 50 areas across the country to spearhead the next expanded stage of the programme.
The expanded work is even more ambitious than the first stage. It will now support 2900 local families and tackle a wider range of problems including domestic violence and abuse, debt problems (including housing rent arrears), parents and children with health problems, and children who need help.
Helping local families who have not worked for several years or may never have worked into employment is a key part of the scheme and where the team works closely with Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB) and Job Centre Plus (JCP). Together they assess what skills gaps individuals have, support them to build their self-confidence alongside practical support such as drafting CVs and interviewing techniques.
The successful first stage of Families 1st saw almost 200 families move into continuous employment. An example of the positive outcomes of the employment skills and improved confidence achieved by Families 1st participants was demonstrated at the recent recruitment process for the new M&S superstore in Charlton.
Due to the significant level of training and support provided by the Families 1st team, 12 residents were put forward for the intensive recruitment process which lasted over a number of days.
There was a very high number of people who went for jobs at the new store, and despite the heavy competition 8 Families 1st candidates were successful and offered permanent jobs with M&S. Seven are now completing final training and starting their new jobs, and one of the successful participants has (with her newly discovered confidence) decided to pursue her long lasting dream of a career in the police service.
These achievements are particularly impressive given the wider competitiveness in the jobs market, which means that participants on the Families 1st scheme will be competing with people with considerably fuller CVs and work histories, and far fewer personal and family hurdles to overcome.
Councillor Denise Scott-McDonald, the Royal Borough of Greenwich Cabinet Member for Community Well-being and Public Health said: “Our Families 1st scheme starts from a simple premise that most local people want to do the best for themselves, support their families, and see their children to do well at school" adding "Many families are also faced with a number of problems including lack of skills, employment opportunities, rent debts, family conflict, lack of confidence, or may be suffering poor health. When these problems are combined over time they can grid families down, and leave them feeling that they are just too big and too many to take on."
She said: “That is where Families 1st comes in; supporting those families who recognise the problems they face, and working with them on a practical and tough plan to work towards a time when everyone in the home can see a positive future ahead."
“We can be very proud of the hard work and excellent results achieved by the Royal Borough working closely with its partners in GLLaB, health, Job Centre Plus, probation and the police. It’s a successful model which has been held up as best practice by our peers, and one which Louise Casey and government ministers have rightly praised and come to see for themselves.”