IN the two years of the initiative to help troubled families in our society, 545 families in Buckinghamshire have received help towards resolving their problems. Of these, 179 in total have achieved reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour, or improved educational attendance, or returned to continuous employment. All of these families have worked with the guidance of mentoring teams to try and turn their lives around.

Families such as these can have many difficulties and this complexity is shown by the kind of problems that the initiative is working to reduce. Troubled families are those who have members who are involved in youth crime or anti-social behaviour; children who are excluded from school or who are truanting; and where there is an adult on out-of-work benefits.

Since the programme was launched nationally in April 2012, nearly 40,000 families across the UK have been given support with their problems. The outcomes have been monitored carefully and the latest reports came in at the end of March 2014.

The initiative came about because there was often a fragmented approach to helping families sort out their problems. Schools, social services or other agencies might have been in touch with families at different times, without these interventions being co-ordinated. It was calculated that 120,000 of the most troubled families actually accounted for a £9 billion annual cost to taxpayers.

Under this approach, since 2012, one team can work with a family intensively to address all their difficulties, rather than having a number of different services reacting to individual problems as they occur.

Local councils are involved in the programme and communities as a whole are seeing the benefits.

Most of all, the members of families like these see a better future, with children back at school and adults getting into work. The Budget, this March, announced that the programme will be extended to work with up to 40,000 families from this year. Let us hope this makes a real difference to turning around peoples’ lives when they need that extra help.