Merton in new partnership to help keep vulnerable families stay together

Merton Council are part of a pioneering initiative that has been jointly commissioned by five London boroughs to help young people stay out of care and deliver better outcomes for them and their families. 

The initiative is part of a unique collaboration between the social sector, local government and social investors. With support from the Big Lottery Fund, the boroughs involved are the London Borough of Merton, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Newham.

Positive Families Partnership, as the new delivery partner is working closely with Social Finance to monitor the delivery partners and Bridges Fund Management is the social investor. Bridges Fund Management are also providing over £4.5m to cover the up-front costs of the programme via a social impact bond, which is an innovative way of providing upfront capital for projects.

For Merton, the initiative will utilise two specialist delivery partners to deliver the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) which will take place with Family Psychology Mutual and the South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

Merton Council will be able to refer 48 vulnerable young people to either the Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) or Functional Family Therapy (FFT) programmes.

MST is an intensive, family-focused and community based treatment programme for vulnerable young people. It is evidence-based and tackles the many reasons for a young person’s serious antisocial behaviour. It identifies all the issues that affect chronic and violent young offenders – their families, living conditions, school, neighbourhood and friends. The therapy recognises that each of these issues play a critical role in a youth’s world and may need to be adjusted to improve quality of life for the young people and their families.

Functional Family Therapy is an evidence-based service that works to improve a young person’s relationships within their family. It helps to improve communication and supportiveness between parents or guardians and young people, while reducing anger and aggression. Other goals include helping families bring about positive solutions to family problems, and develop positive behaviour change and good parenting techniques.

Katy Neep, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Merton Council, said:

“This pioneering initiative is very much welcomed as an inspiring and innovative way to help keep vulnerable young people with their families and out of care. Merton is a great place for families and we are very proud to have been able to join forces in this collaboration to find fresh yet proven solutions to some very difficult social challenges which will drastically improve the quality of life of hundreds of children, young people and families across London.”



About Bridges Fund Management (

Bridges Fund Management (formerly Bridges Ventures) is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investment, with offices in London and New York. Since 2002, the firm has raised over £900m to invest in SMEs, properties and social sector organisations that are helping to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges, with a focus on four themes: health & wellbeing, education & skills, sustainable living and underserved markets.

About Social Finance

Social Finance is a not-for-profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems in the UK and beyond. Since its formation in 2007, Social Finance has mobilised over £100 million of investment and helped to design a series of programmes, including the Social Impact Bond model, to improve outcomes for individuals with complex needs. It has sister organisations in the US and Israel and a network of partners across the world.

About Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.