Programme to help ‘troubled families’ in Hartlepool showing benefits

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Council chiefs have attributed ‘building relationships’ as key to early successes of a programme aimed at helping troubled families in the area.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership was told 900 families have been identified to help as part of the national ‘troubled families’ programme.

The second phase of the programme aims to help 400,000 families nationally by the end of March 2020, with 1,000 of these in Hartlepool.

Of the 900 families identified for help, 414 have received support.

This means Hartlepool has achieved 41% of its target, compared to an average of 26% nationally.

Danielle Swainston, council assistant director for children and families services, said the project has had an impact so far and it is important this is continued and developed.

She said: “We’ve got to really think about the whole family.

“We just need to constantly challenge each other when we are working with families.

“They are spending a lot of time building up relationships.

“The biggest thing from a families point of view is trust, which is difficult to take hold of.

“The biggest thing is time, they need to be given time to get that trust.”

The national criteria of ‘troubled families’ is based around statistics for adult unemployment, poor school attendance and children and young people involved in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Coun Jim Lindridge, speaking at the meeting, said the scheme can be a great help to families.

He said: “It’s to give them empowerment, it’s not a crutch for them to lean on permanently.”

The first phase of the national troubled families programme was launched in April 2012 with the ambition of ‘turning around’ the lives of 120,000 families in the aftermath of the riots in 2011.

Hartlepool was mandated to identify and ‘turn around’ 290 families by March 2015.

This lead to the launch of the second phase in 2014 which is still ongoing, which has greater flexibility and discretion in identifying families to work with and aims to provide ‘significant and sustained progress’ for them.

Hartlepool receives an annual service transformation grant of approximately £150,000 to assist in this process.

The government grants £1,000 of funding for each family attached to the scheme, with a further £800 available depending on their success.

Going forward the plan aims to ensure the partnership uses data to get the best results and develops plans to address concerns regarding school attendance, anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service