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Building Bridges Project

Building Bridges Project

Building Bridges is a professional home-based family support service designed to meet the needs of families with ‘multiple complex needs’. It starts with the families’ own perceptions of what needs to change, and involves proffessionals spending time with the family, linking with other services, and providing both emotional and practical support.

The project was initially designed as an early intervention for families where ‘multiple complex needs’ such as parental mental health problems, a young carer, difficulties in parenting, a child with mental health or behavioural difficulties, relationship issues, children on a child protection plan, children who have come to the attention of social services, and financial and material hardship. The fairly intensive intervention aims to improve some of the practical and emotional problems to prevent more serious and expensive problems developing.

The project is delivered by professionally qualified family or social workers, largely in family homes. Families are referred to the project by Children’s Services, adult mental health services, voluntary organisations or GPs. Support includes practical assistance with material or financial problems, emotional support, help with improving parenting or relationships.

A study found that the programme reduced the need for the Care Programme Approach by 47 per cent, for the child protection register by 54 per cent; Local Authority care by 70 per cent; the Common Assessment Framework Team Around the Child Single Agency by 52 per cent, the Common Assessment Team Around the Child Multi-Agency by 67 per cent and for Children In Need by 54 per cent. In a small study, all stakeholders and almost all clients rated the programme 4/5 or above.

From the families’ point of view the programme was important in: “reduces hardship and relieves distress, improves parents’ perceptions of their relationships with their children and family members; and children’s behaviour and well-being.” It costs £3,000 – 4,000 per family. In contrast it costs as much as £40,000 to develop a child protection plan. Local Authority care can cost up to £2,500 a week. It is usually commissioned by local authorities for families in their areas.

More information: Evaluation report and summary