Inspiring staff who help families in need

Workers tasked with transforming some of the area’s most problematic households have been given a boost by a national tsar.

Louise Casey, head of the government’s ‘Troubled Families Programme’, visited the borough last week to inspire those who help families in difficulties.

Ms Casey, who was made a Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2008, was the keynote speaker at the ‘Troubled Families – What now? What next?’ conference hosted by North Tyneside Council in Wallsend.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We were honoured that Louise Casey came to speak with us.

“She is a highly experienced and expert leader in this field and her passion for understanding and helping struggling families is inspirational.

“When families are experiencing difficulties, we need to give them the most effective support we can.

“In the past, we’ve seen teams of professionals working tirelessly with families, doing their best but often without any long-lasting results.

“This new way of working intensively with targeted families is already making a real difference. This is excellent news for our families and for our communities.”

The national Troubled Families Programme seeks to get children back into school, adults back into work and reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

Ms Casey talked to council and other staff involved in the programme in North Tyneside, Gateshead and Northumberland; aiming to inspire frontline workers and help the three councils plan their next steps for the scheme.

North Tyneside Council has a target of working with and turning around 460 families over three years, up to 2015.

Intervention is based on set criteria – including school attendance, worklessness crime and anti-social behaviour – and families are identified based on data and information held by the council and its partners including police and schools.

Households are allocated a single support worker, called a ‘Family Partner’, who works intensively with the family to make a plan for change, which the whole family must commit to.

There are currently 24 full-time Family Partners employed by the council.

Jill Baker, who manages the Supporting Families programme in North Tyneside, said: “This scheme is really different and as a result, it is getting results. Families tell us they appreciate our honest approach and we’re starting to see some real change.”