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Finding out how support for families can prevent violence

The Youth Endowment Fund and Comic Relief open applications for their £10 million programme to find out how family support can prevent violence and publish a summary of what we already know

Today [27/09/21], the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) and Comic Relief have set opened their £10 million fund, which will invest in six to ten projects that’ll help us learn more about 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. And 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 shows 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:

  1. Parenting programmes (including programmes for foster carers or people working with children in residential care), which help parents and their children to develop positive behaviours and relationships.
  2. Family therapy interventions (including for children in foster care), which offer whole families structured forms of therapy.
  3. Programmes to reduce parental conflict, which are specifically designed to improve relationships between parents or carers.
  4. Domestic abuse interventions, which are specifically designed to prevent and reduce harm to children and adults.

Each of these approaches is backed by existing evidence, which the Fund is looking to build on. Today, they’ve also published a summary of what they’ve learned about each of these approaches so far.

By funding programmes in England and Wales, we can build on this knowledge of how best to support families. And that includes improving our understanding of what works for children in the care system, who are significantly overrepresented in the youth justice system.

To find out how to apply, more information is available on the YEF’s website here.

Rachel de SouzaChildren’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.”