Blackpool is an area facing considerable challenges. It is the sixth most deprived local authority in England with some of the lowest levels of life expectancy and highest rates of children in care.

The risk of Domestic Violence & Abuse (DV&A) to women in Blackpool is estimated to be nearly four times the national average. Blackpool has a strong appetite to develop innovative approaches to find new solutions to entrenched and complex problems.

Blackpool works through ‘Getting it Right for Every Blackpool Child and Family’ framework, which aims to better identify risk and target resources early. Early intervention in Blackpool has also received a significant boost, through the success of their Big Lottery ‘Better Start’ proposals focusing on improvements to services for 0-5s.

EIF Support & Advice

  • EIF’s review on domestic violence and abuse highlighted the significant harm to children of witnessing domestic violence, even if they are not directly being abused. This evidence was used by Blackpool to help get agreement to develop a new early intervention approach to domestic violence and abuse which became known as the ‘Step Up’ project.
  • EIF supported Blackpool and University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) to submit a bid to the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) to evaluate the ‘Step Up’ project.
  • The Blackpool and UCLAN ESRC bid was successful in getting almost £185k of funding from ESRC to evaluate the approach.
  • EIF also supported Blackpool to use the Early Intervention Maturity Matrix to inform a new strategy and action plan for early intervention.

Feedback from Blackpool:

“EIF encouraged and advised us on the National and Regional priorities in relation to domestic abuse. They helped us to understand what the research would be expected to demonstrate and the high expectations involved which enabled us to focus the bid and articulate the vision. We need to demonstrate outcomes in early intervention locally and the support to get the work funded by the ESRC and off the ground was a superb opportunity to do this.” 

Moya Foster, Senior Service Manager Early Help, Blackpool



Croydon Council and its partners have a history of innovating to develop new models of delivering early intervention.

They also have some challenges relating to the high levels of need in their local population. They have high rates of violent youth crime, domestic abuse, and more than 500 troubled families to support, to turn around their lives each year. They also have high levels of obesity, A&E attendance, children in care and on child protection plans, and low levels of immunisations. Their priorities include reducing youth crime and re-offending rates and to improve outcomes in the early years.

EIF Support & Advice

  • EIF supported Croydon to develop an Early Intervention Strategy for 0-19 year olds through use of EIF tools such as the Early Intervention Maturity Matrix and benchmarking analysis. This for example, highlighted the need for more coherence in approaches across different agencies in the early years sector and to better join up how families experienced services. The benchmarking analysis also highlighted the need to look at early years where some outcome areas were worse than would be expected.
  • EIF supported Croydon to develop a partnership with Queens Belfast and bid to the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) for funding for a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of their new Functional Family Therapy Service. This was successful, securing £160k for a three year RCT. The research funding and the focus on the programme has given it profile and priority locally, leading to increased investment in the service which will now reach up to 200 families over three years.
  • EIF were a partner in Croydon’s successful Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) Transformation Challenge Award bid to deliver a new integrated approach to services for 0-5s (‘Best Start’). EIF are supporting the commissioning, workforce development and evaluation of this programme. Croydon have built upon their relationship with Queens University Belfast who are now also undertaking the evaluation of Croydon ‘Best Start’ early years work.

Feedback from Croydon:

Croydon is seeking a robust approach to its work with some of the most vulnerable young people and their families. Working with the EIF has made such a difference in enabling us to bring in resources to undertake a randomised controlled trial which is crucial so we can fully test what works. Without the support from EIF and opportunity to access ESRC funding, an evaluation of this sort would have been very difficult to organise.”

Dwynwen Stepien, Head of Early Intervention Support Service, Croydon