Merton has been singled out by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for its transformative work with vulnerable families in the borough.
Merton’s Transforming Families initiative has seen case practitioners and social workers working closely with 370 of the most vulnerable families in the borough. It has helped turn around 326 of these families, making them more independent and self-reliant, having a positive impact on their lives and, in the long-term, saving the council and the tax payer a significant amount of money.
The council set up the initiative in conjunction with the DCLG so that families experiencing difficulties develop a positive relationship with a named contact who helps them with anything from the daily routine of getting the children to school in the morning to tackling youth crime and anti-social behaviour; from dealing with educational difficulties to helping with employment skills. A social worker agrees a series of actions with the families, who then commit to those actions with the goal of becoming more independent in the future. The DCLG’s new expanded programme also helps families with mental and physical health issues and those facing domestic violence. Merton was one of the first authorities in the country to have been selected to pilot the Expanded Programme which will be rolled out across the country in May.
The DCLG has already recognised Merton’s top performance in transforming the lives of many of its most vulnerable families. The borough has been in the top 10 in London for helping families in the most need and one of the top achieving in the country over the past year. Performance data released by the DCLG shows that Merton has turned around 88% of its families.
Merton’s cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Maxi Martin, said: “We have worked so hard to help families who are facing very difficult issues in tough circumstances. I am very proud that we have been cited as a great example of positive work that can be achieved when it comes to making families’ lives better. Our young people get one chance at childhood and I’m delighted we have been able to help make sure that Merton remains a great place for our children to grow up.”
Head of the Government’s Troubled Families programme Louise Casey CB said: “Behind these figures are real people from Merton’s 326 families whose lives have changed for the better. Families with an average of nine serious problems each were never going to be easy to turn around, so all credit to the council and other services who have committed to this programme, the frontline staff who have given their all to these families and most of all to the families who have had the courage to change and given themselves and their children a better chance in life than they had before.”
Feedback from a parent, whose family has been helped by the council, said: “Transforming Families gave us tools to divide our life and sort it. We have progressed and are on our way to somewhere at last, it has taken the whole world off our shoulders.”
Note to editor
Please contact Merton Council’s press office for details on a family who is willing to be interviewed about their experiences with the council’s Transforming Families scheme and on how the service has helped turn their lives around.