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Grant secured to support vulnerable families

AGENCIES in Shetland have received over £300,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to put towards a scheme which will work with vulnerable families and place more emphasis on early intervention.

The initiative, led by police area commander Lindsay Tulloch through the community planning partnership, will undertake research with families and professionals to co-design services in the isles.

It has received £321,500 from the Big Lottery Fund as part of a series of grants for criminal justice and social projects in Scotland totalling nearly £6 million.

Tulloch said the scheme has two aims – to “improve the outcomes for Shetland’s most vulnerable individuals and families, and shift spend from services addressing failure demand to early intervention and prevention.”

It will see vulnerable families encouraged to become “independent and decide, at an early stage, what support they require”.

Tulloch said this may include supporting family members to obtain training or employment, ensuring children receive additional and appropriate education support as well as helping people’s health and wellbeing.

The grant money will primarily be used to fund a new coordinator post which is hoped will provide the catalyst for families and services to explore different ways of working.

“I have been in the police service for over 25 years, responding to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community,” Tulloch said.

“Despite significant interventions, we continue to see the same issues arise from generation to generation with no real improvement for families in need of our services. We need to work differently, with other partners, and with families.

“This project, and the investment from the Big Lottery Fund into Shetland, is our opportunity to achieve this, resulting in stronger families and stronger communities.”

The project will involve working with a small number of families so that solutions can be developed together with people, rather than “doing things to and for them”.

The focus is on finding ways to move away from crisis intervention, such as criminal incidents, and being able to re-focus efforts into early intervention and preventative spend.

“We currently deliver a service intervention approach to individuals family members which includes responding to incidents of child abuse, substance addictions, domestic abuse, supporting and responding to the needs of people with health issues including mental health issues,” Tulloch said.

“With this systems change we want to prevent the need to deal with these acute situations.”

No extra money will be needed to roll out the scheme as the required £80,000 of match funding will come from a reprioritisation of existing budgets.

“In practice we will appoint a co-ordinator to work with identified families and understand their needs and service models to support the family,” Tulloch added.

“There would be a partnership approach to deliver the services required to provide ongoing support towards positive outcomes for the family. We believe this will be a far more effective approach rather than single agency interventions when an individual has reached crisis point.”

Shetland Islands Council’s director of children’s services Helen Budge said: “I’m delighted that the strength of Shetland’s leadership, strong partnership working and proposal has been recognised by the Big Lottery, in this highly competitive fund.

“This project will support partners to achieve the outcomes of Shetland’s integrated children’s plan.”