Norfolk offers therapy to families in need thanks to pioneering social impact bond

24 January 2019

A new service offering therapy to families in need is to be launched by Norfolk County Council tomorrow (Friday 25 January).

The project is one of the first of its kind in the country and will help more children to live safely at home with their families.

Known as Stronger Families, it will support about 400 children aged eight to 15.

Cllr Stuart Dark, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said:  “We know that children do better when they can live safely at home with their families, and this is one of several ways we are working to help families to be resilient and stay together.

“By providing therapy directly to families, the project can help to heal and build relationships that give children a much brighter future.  We want to help families as early as possible, developing their strengths and giving them the support that they need to prevent problems from escalating.”

Family Psychology Mutual will provide the service and will use what is known as Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (“FFT-CW”), a type of therapy that has had success in the USA, Australia, Singapore and Canada.  Stronger Families will work within families’ homes, providing therapy to the whole family.  It aims to repair relationships, help families to communicate better and help parents to better support and influence their children.

It is one element of the Council’s wider transformation of Children’s Services, which is focused on building strengths in families and getting support to children and families early – ensuring better outcomes for children and mitigating the council’s budget pressures.  By safely reducing the numbers of children coming into care, the programme could save the council about £7m over five years.

Stronger Families is funded via a Social Impact Bond. Family Psychology Mutual will deliver the service, with the Council committing to pay for successful outcomes alongside the Government’s Life Chances Fund. Up-front funding and ongoing support will be provided by Bridges, a specialist impact investor with extensive experience of arranging and delivering outcomes contracts.

Tom Jefford, Business Development Director for Family Psychology Mutual spokesperson said:  “We are building and training a dedicated team to deliver FFT-CW in Norfolk and are confident that we can create sustainable change for families and young people with high needs.

"We are delighted to be working with the County Council, where our trained workers will be embedded into the Locality Teams.  Family Psychology Mutual is a staff-owned social enterprise; we aim to provide evidence-based interventions that are both cost-efficient and effective in achieving the outcomes families want.  This is the second FFT-CW site in the UK and we look forward to working with partners in Norfolk.”

Mila Lukic, partner at Bridges, said:  “Our previous experience of delivering a similar programme in London has shown that this kind of family therapy is a highly effective way of keeping children out of the care system – which typically drives much better life outcomes for the children and also creates substantial cost savings for the Local Authority.  We look forward to drawing on this experience to help more families in Norfolk stay together.”

Mike Robbins, Clinical Director FFT LC, said:  "We are pleased to partner with the visionaries at Norfolk County Council and Family Psychology Mutual to bring FFT-CW to England.  FFT-CW has a track record helping families adjust and flourish in the face of devastating problems, such as violence, abuse, and neglect, and we are excited to work with these excellent partners to find ways to help youth and families in the local community.  Also, the innovation of funding the project through the first Social Impact Bond for FFT-CW has generated the attention and interest from child service providers well beyond England."

About Family Psychology Mutual

Family Psychology Mutual Community Interest Company is a staff owned social enterprise, also known as a public service mutual, which was created by staff from Cambridgeshire County Council and the NHS.  Now fully independent, the company specialises in evidence based, family interventions with established work in London and Cambridgeshire and new services being established in Suffolk and now Norfolk.  This is the first FFT CW team for FPM.

About Bridges

Bridges Fund Management (formerly Bridges Ventures) is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investment.  Since 2002, the firm has raised over £900m to invest in solutions to society’s biggest challenges.  In 2012, Bridges raised the first fund anywhere in the world dedicated to supporting social outcomes contracts; it has since backed almost 30 of these projects in the UK alone, working with over 50 public sector commissioners.

About the Life Chances Fund

The Life Chances Fund (LCF) is an £80m top-up fund, whose objective is to help those people in society who face the most significant barriers to leading happy and productive lives.  This forms part of the Prime Minister’s life chances approach. 

The £80m has been committed by central Government to contribute towards outcome payments for payment-by-results contracts supported by socially-minded investors – also known as social impact bonds (SIBs) or Social Outcomes Contracts (SOCs).  These contracts must be locally commissioned and aim to tackle complex social problems.

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