MORE than fifty “troubled families” have been helped to turn their lives around in Hampshire within the first year of a new project.

The county council and partner agencies have identified 546 high risk families in need of support.

The aim of the Government scheme is to challenge long-term unemployment, anti-social behaviour and truancy.

Measures of success include parents or older siblings being helped back into work or training, improved school attendance and less youth crime.

Cllr Keith Mans, executive lead member for children’s services, said: “We want to make sure we are making a really substantial improvement in the lives of families and not just ticking performance boxes. We expect more positive outcomes in the next six months.”

Speaking at a meeting of the full council, he said families who had been successfully helped were not removed from the project but still supported to sustain positive changes.

About 150 families have a dedicated support worker who visits them regularly, in some cases daily, to provide more intensive support, including parenting.

In addition, a multi-agency, single family plan is in place for more than 500 families.

The council is working with partner agencies such as district councils, the NHS and police to provide more co-ordinated support.

The initiative is designed to help families with deep-rooted problems, including a history of drug and alcohol misuse.

Cllr Mans said: “There is one family, one plan, one joined-up approach.”

He added: “I really believe this programme is a game changer in the way we deal with families in need of support. “He said local communities also benefited.

Nationally, it is estimated the costs of dealing with one troubled family by public bodies can cost £75,000 a year and in the long-term the scheme should save taxpayers’ money.

Estimated costs and savings will be evaluated by Portsmouth University over the three years of the project. The scheme is funded with £5.3m from Whitehall and £1m from the county council.

It aims to help 1,590 families across Hampshire by March 2015.