‘Positive’ start for Westminster scheme to target excluded families

A Westminster Council scheme to help socially excluded families through intensive multi-agency support has had an“overwhelmingly positive” start, the authority has said.

Fifteen families have signed up to the family recovery project, which began last October, and the London borough is hoping to enlist another 15 before the end of the month, and 60 in total by March.

The project aims to help 600 Westminster families identified as being seriously socially excluded, who are in touch with up to 20 separate agencies and responsible for a disproportionate level of spending on social care, benefits, the police and other services.

Rigorous support

Brian Connell, cabinet member for communities and economic development, said each of the families would receive “rigorous support” from children’s services, health, the police and voluntary bodies to help them get back into work and education.

A council spokesperson said social workers had identified families already “on the council’s radar”, who had then been approached with a pre-arranged contract, breaches of which can result in their removal from the project.

Those that have signed on have been placed with a small team who provide an integrated care package, which the council said was tailored to the needs of each family and “where necessary, the local community”.

Little resistance

The spokesperson said there had been “very little resistance” by the families to approaches. One family had initially rejected to join but has since signed on.

The council has set a rough target of signing up all 600 families by 2011 but this deadline is understood to be fluid.

The spokesperson added that the project would not end once all families had been integrated and that data accrued from the scheme was being analysed “all the time” to help with future projects of the same nature.

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