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Priority Families Programme

St Helens Council and its key partners signed up to the national ‘Troubled Families’ programme in March 2012, having been given a target to identify and work with 520 families over the initial 3-year period (2012-2015). The Government has sinced announced an expansion to the programme, reaching out to more families over the next 5-year period (2015-2020). The aim being to turnaround the lives of some of the Borough’s most challenging and complex families. To be more positive and inclusive, the programme was re-branded as 'Priority Families' locally.

Households that meet at least 2 of the 6 following Government criteria are known in St Helens as ‘Priority Families’:

1. Child truanting or excluded from school (or at a PRU)
2. Involved in crime or anti-social behaviour
3. Out of work or at risk of financial exclusion
4. Have vulnerable children who need help
5. Affected by domestic violence & abuse
6. Have mental health or substance misuse problems

Most eligible families will already be known to a number of professionals. Families can be at any point on the Continuum of Need, and at any level of statutory or non-statutory intervention, including Child Protection, Family Action, or working with agencies addressing school, housing, health, anti-social or offending issues. St Helens is particularly keen to use the expanded programme to identify and help families earlier on, before problems escalate further and end up with statutory services involved.

The programme seeks to adopt a new approach to working with families as a whole, using a family intervention model, providing practical support to families to make positive changes. Families need to know that something new and additional is on offer to support them in making improvements. This will be done by ensuring that each and every Priority Family has a ‘Lead Professional’ (in line with the LSCB Think Family Procedure) who can access enhanced support for families. Lead Professionals will be able to tap into targeted resources and interventions on behalf of their Priority Family (such as Family Intervention Workers, Home-Start Volunteers, and Employment Advisors).

The key outcomes to achieve for families involved, the wider local community, and the programme as a whole, are:

  • reduced crime / anti-social behaviour
  • improved school attendance
  • adults/young people moving into work, training or education
  • vulnerable children being safer
  • reduced domestic violence
  • better mental health / less drug or alcohol-related harm

If you are a professional working with a family, and you feel they meet the programme criteria and would benefit from some of the extra support outlined above, you can nominate them (with their consent) using this form.

Paul Simon

Priority Families Project Manager

St Helens Council


01744 678 034

Sarah Moss

Priority Families Project Officer

St Helens Council


01744 678 034


Please also see our Privacy Notice for more details on what information is being collected to support the local programme, and how this is being used to help evaluate the overall national programme.