Beyond Youth Custody

The importance of unlocking family support to help young people leaving custody

19 July 2016 | Tagged with the theme:

Beyond Youth Custody’s (BYC) new resources – ‘The role of family support in resettlement: a practitioner’s guide’ and ‘The role of family support in resettlement: a policy briefing’ – explore the important role that families can play in supporting young people who are released from custody.

“Whilst I was in secure they [my family] were very supportive. They turned up to every one of my meetings and always came to visit me. They still made me feel like I was still a part of the family, which helped me get through the week till their next visit.”

For some young people in custody, family can offer a sense of connectedness with the outside world, increasing stability and countering the vulnerabilities that increase with incarceration. BYC’s research shows that effective and sustained resettlement requires a young person to shift the way they think about themselves and behave. In order to help a young person move forward, resettlement support needs to both guide this shift (personal support) and enable the shift by preparing the home environment to address multiple barriers (structural support). Where appropriate, the family can be an important resource for both aspects of this support, which can continue beyond the withdrawal of formal support services.

The role of family support in resettlement: a practitioner’s guide

This guide – aimed at practitioners who work with young people and their families – unpicks different interpretations of ‘family’. It explores the family’s unique position to fulfil key characteristics that research has shown are associated with effective resettlement support. The guide does this by:

  • Exploring the family’s role in providing both personal and structural support
  • Identifying some of the challenges and possible solutions associated with the family’s ability to deliver, and agencies’ ability to facilitate a family approach
  • Drawing out considerations for practice, identifying how staff and organisations can be supported to deliver effective resettlement work with young people and their families

The role of family support in resettlement: a policy briefing

In May 2016, BYC held a policy roundtable that brought together key stakeholders, senior policy makers and practitioners to consider the findings of BYC’s research and to shape policy recommendations. The meeting – hosted and chaired by Tim Loughton MP – heard from the lead author of the research, Professor Neal Hazel, and contributions from Nacro’s Sally Benton, Lord McNally and Lord Harris. The meeting also heard from a young man who had served a custodial sentence; he reflected on how his experience of family support, facilitated by the secure unit, helped him turn his life around. This briefing outlines key themes from discussions including:

  • The importance of investing in family approaches up-stream
  • The need to empower family members by ‘supporting the supporter’ through identifying and meeting wider family support needs
  • The crucial nature of information sharing and co-ordination of services/agencies involved in a young person’s journey

Click here to download the practitioner’s guide and policy briefing. The team have also collected stories from young people and organisations who work with them to highlight the issues and the positive role the family can play in resettlement – read these here, and check out our new blog entries.


Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes