THIS week, the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) and Comic Relief have set out their plans to spend up to £10 million to find out how early investment in family support programmes can keep children safe from involvement in violence later in their lives.
The announcement follows a four-month consultation with over 450 people working to keep children safe – including teachers, community and youth workers, police officers, social workers. Through Comic Relief, children and young people with lived or near experience of violence got involved to tell the charities what they wanted to see funded. It was their knowledge, alongside a review of the evidence, that has set the direction for this grant round.
The evidence showed us that, to prevent violence, we should provide support to children where there are challenges like conflict or domestic abuse, alcohol or substance misuse or where other family members are involved in crime. And speaking to young people and the people working to support them also made it clear that we need to make sure we’re reaching all kinds of families, as well as children who are in foster families or residential care.
That’s why the funding is going to focus on four areas:
- Parenting programmes (including programmes for foster carers or people working with children in residential care) help parents and their children develop positive behaviours and relationships.
- Family therapy interventions (including for children in foster care) which offer whole families structured forms of therapy.
- Programmes to reduce parental conflict, which are specifically designed to improve relationships between parents or carers.
- Domestic abuse interventions, which are specifically designed to prevent and reduce harm to children and adults.
By funding programmes in England and Wales, the YEF aims to build knowledge of how best to support families. And that includes building an understanding of what works for children in the care system, who are significantly overrepresented in the youth justice system.
Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:
“I’m delighted to work with, indeed to stand with, YEF in trying to get to grips with this crucial issue. It seems to me there is a growing understanding in society that supporting the family, and supporting it early, is the way to tackle a myriad of social problems. For me, this is particularly important because children tell me this themselves.
“In my Big Ask Survey this year, which captured responses from over half a million children from all backgrounds, the desire for a strong, loving family and the honest, authentic and articulate comments on what life is like when that’s not there, came through very powerfully.
“I’m confident we can make life better for our most disadvantaged children, but we need to be targeted, focussed, and we need to do it now.”
Samir Patel, Chief Executive, Comic Relief, said:
“Early intervention with families who need support can have a dramatic effect on the lives of young people. We’re really excited that this programme has been co-designed with young people, they have used their experiences and knowledge and identified the services they would like to see delivered, alongside advice from expert key workers. Everyone deserves the best start in life, and I hope these new programmes and outreach services will help transform the lives of thousands of people.”
Jon Yates, Executive Director of the Youth Endowment Fund, said:
“Every child deserves a life free from violence. If we’re going to achieve our mission and make that a reality, we need to make sure every child grows up in the supportive home they deserve.
“This investment with our partners at Comic Relief gives us a unique opportunity to learn how we can best help families of all different types. Then we can use that learning to make sure children who have often experienced adversity very early in their lives are given the services and support they need to keep safe from involvement in violence.”
The Youth Endowment Fund’s grant round ‘A supportive home – helping families to overcome challenges’ opens for applications on 27 September 2021. For more information, please visit: https://youthendowmentfund.org.uk/grants/a-supportive-home/.