Ignite was a five-year programme led by Central England Law Centre and Grapevine in partnership with two partners: Coventry City Council Children’s Services and Whitefriars Housing Group (now Citizen Housing).  The purpose of the programme was to explore how to redesign public sector support to help people earlier and build resilience in those least able to cope.


The Early Action Neighbourhood Fund (supported by Comic Relief, Big Lottery, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury) provided funding for this pioneering five-year programme of work to catalyse change in the public sector.


The human element was absolutely what it was all about. The whole thing was about relationships.


Key findings from IGNITE

Partnership with Whitefriars Housing (now Citizen Housing)

We wanted to lay a foundation for a more positive start to the relationship that Whitefriars wanted to establish at the start of a tenancy, to help people to be ‘tenancy ready’.

  • We explored what happens before a person becomes a tenant by considering who might be working with them at that time, and how Whitefriars could improve their interaction with them.
  • We focused on those who might be more at risk of failure because their situation was chaotic or precarious before they were offered a tenancy.
  • We made good connections to key staff and people in external partner agencies, such as the Salvation Army, Route 21 and The Foyer.

Whitefriars: Eleven Ways of working 

Partnership with Coventry Children’s Services

The initial ambition was to create a team based on a slice across Children’s Services from Earliest Help to Child Protection. We explored help for families with the Children’s Centre early help team, child protection and other key partners who thought Ignite’s approach might help families. We learned a lot about where families sought help, the obstacles to receiving it and the types of root causes that threaten attempts to help.

Consultation by Children’s Services on a new delivery model, moving from children’s centres to multi-partner Family Hubs became an opportunity to test some of our thinking and reiterate the value of acting early and differently. We initiated a ‘live trial’ within a Family Hub, a local building that we felt could be identified as the source of help and support for families. Alongside Children’s Services early help staff, we began to translate our casework learning about what might work into practice. The Hub model enabled us to amplify community response to problems and develop community partnerships.

In the Hub, we worked with 200 households who were identified as needing help to trial if legal advice and improving their social connectedness could support them to head-off crisis. 

The work with Children’s Services led to the publication of a jointly agreed Blueprint for Action that continues to guide the ongoing work with Children’s Services.  This articulated a better understanding of how to activate early help and the key ingredients.

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