I have been getting a lot of questions regarding my new job working with families and I thought it might be helpful to take a few moments to explain what it looks like.
I have recently begun working for West Sussex County Council as part of a new Think Family team. This service has come out of the government’s Troubled Families Programme and is in part a response to the riots of 2011. Research undertaken showed there are families who have longstanding and intergenerational social needs that are repeatedly passed on to children and grandchildren. I have already been working within the church to support families and individuals but have been acutely aware that I have only been scratching the surface of the need that is out there. I feel I am being given the opportunity to reach into the lives of some of the neediest families in our society and help them to turn around.
My role will involve working with families who are experiencing difficulties relating to crime, education and worklessness. In particular this means families where there is a young person engaging in criminal or anti-social behaviour, where there are children who have a poor school attendance record and where there are adults on out-of-work benefits. The families voluntarily join the scheme with a desire to change and my role is to help them identify their strengths and set goals to make positive changes. Working with the whole family I will be supporting parents, engaging with children and young people and co-ordinating any other services that are involved with helping each person within the family to help achieve their goals.
The overall aim is to help the adults find their way back into work; to enable young people to stop offending and find the strength of character to be able to make better life choices; to support children back into school so they can access the education they need and to strengthen the family identity to enable them to work better together so they can look after and support each other, leading ultimately to better life prospects for everyone in that family.
It has not been an easy decision to leave my job that I love at the church, but in a number of ways God has made it clear that this is the direction he is leading me. The job is not without its challenges. Sustainable and long-lasting change is hard even when it is for the better, but the programme has been shown to be successful in other parts of the country and I count it a privilege to be involved in people’s lives at the point where they stand at a crossroads making choices that have the potential to permanently alter the trajectory of their life.