As we pack away the Jubilee bunting and bring out the international flags, it’s difficult to imagine that we’ll see a repeat of last year’s riots this summer. Has anyone measured the impact of nationwide celebration and high profile international sporting events? I’d love to know the cost-benefit ratio of such a high albeit temporary surge in public mood.
Last Thursday NPC chaired an event on the riots, and the role of the third sector in helping ‘troubled’ families. Tim Newburn, head of social policy at the London School of Economics, gave an overview of his joint research with the Guardian on the riots. Lack of opportunities, social exclusion and the feeling of having nothing to lose dominated their findings on rioters’ experiences. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has also said, the research is a reminder that people who feel they have no stake in the social order are unlikely to have a stake in maintaining it.
So what can be done about the ‘troubled’ families these young people have grown up in? And what is the role of the third sector? We discussed how to prioritise the familiar solutions of education, employment, and services working together. Sheryl Burton from the National Children’s Bureau and Rhian Beynon from Family Action emphasised the role of charities in providing independent, non-judgemental support. And alongside early intervention and working with families before children grow up, we must not forget the role of organisations working with the young people who’ve already left home.
Even if we do have a peaceful summer, the underlying reasons for the riots haven’t disappeared. Although there will be new sources of funding like the Government’s Troubled Families scheme, many charities are struggling with cuts to funding and increased demand for their services. Private funders can certainly make a difference, and NPC recently published a guide to the most effective charitable interventions in this area for funders interested in helping tackle the problem.
We may be reaching agreement on the importance of charities’ roles in helping troubled families, and the best ways of doing so, but it remains a complex area. In the Q and A at our event we heard from charities using all sorts of different ways to help families and young people facing multiple problems. The choice of potential solutions is vast, and charities need to keep working together to make sure they’re using the most effective approaches. I’d be interested to hear about our readers’ experiences of this – have you found it easy to work with other charities in this area to make sure you’re using the most appropriate solutions? Or is the reality more difficult?