Published: September 27, 2022
A pioneering adoption and fostering agency which uses arts and drama to help care-experienced traumatised youngsters has bought its first property thanks to a seven-figure loan from Unity Trust Bank.
London-based Family Futures, which transformed the way fostered, special guardianship and adopted children and their families are supported in the UK by using innovative neuro-physiological psychotherapy, has rented premises since it launched 24 years ago. But having purchased new headquarters in Hornsey Road, Finsbury Park, the not-for-profit organisation is saving more than £14,000 a month in rent and rates and has an asset which will help secure its future for years to come.
Employing 35 full time staff, Family Futures works with around 120 children/young people every year. It also assesses and approves adopters, recruits foster carers and provides external training and ongoing research.
Jay Vaughan MBE, CEO at Family Futures, said: “Getting a mortgage has made a huge difference to us because the repayments are considerably cheaper than what we were paying previously and it’s also a good investment for the company.
“We talked to several banks but the moment we spoke to Matt Conroy from Unity Trust Bank we were absolutely clear which one we were going to go with.
“Matt got what we’re about and we trusted him. He took the time to see the building and that made a huge difference. We felt safe and we could talk to him. He was genuinely interested in what we did and even wanted to know about our research – oh my god, a bank interested in our research! Matt seemed to understand what we were doing, why it mattered and why we’re so passionate about it. We would have been interested in Unity anyway because their values and ethos resonated with us, but it was Matt who made the difference.
“Building relationships is what we’re all about at Family Futures. We wanted a bank that appreciated what we did, saw our vision, and wasn’t just in it for the money – because that’s not what we’re in it for. Part of our long-term strategy is to support our survival. Owning our own building now means that we can ensure that Family Futures is financially viable. We can continue to support the care-experienced children, young people and their families.”
Matt Conroy, Regional Director (South), at Unity Trust Bank, said: “As a socially-determined bank we’re proud to support a wonderful organisation like Family Futures. Jay and her team have helped hundreds of vulnerable children over the years and this finance will enable them to continue their valuable work.”
Jay, a former theatre director, was inspired to work with children in the care system after her own childhood experiences and experience of family therapy and retrained as a drama therapist in the late 1980s.
She met social workers Christine Gordon, an adoptive parent, and Alan Burnell OBE, an adopted person. The trio set up Family Futures at a time when public confidence in post adoption support had reached crisis levels.
Jay explained: “Children were being removed from their birth families for neglect or abuse and placed with an adoptive family and the thinking was, that if you love them and give them a nice life, they will be fine. But it wasn’t working because nice holidays, clothes and food don’t make it all better.
“Children were often only entitled to six counselling sessions back then. Parents weren’t included in the process so it wasn’t effective and families were falling apart.
“It was our belief – mine, Christine’s and Alan’s – that traumatised children needed long-term support, at least three years. Therapy needed to be dyadic, involving children and parents together.
“We used creative arts, drama therapy and dance. Children who couldn’t explain how they felt through words, could express how they feel through art!
Since launching its first pilot in 1998, Family Futures’ new concept grew momentum. It has since been recognised by local authorities and some health authorities across the country.
Family Futures carried out research in 2016 and 2019. It revealed positive outcomes for children who had completed at least three years’ therapy. In particular, violent children had become calmer and more settled as a result.
Jay said: “This was the first research of its kind, and the results were very gratifying. We believe that getting therapy from the get-go can make all the difference.
“The children and the families we help are amazing; what they struggle through and how determined and resilient they are.
“I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years now. Some of the children I’ve helped have invited me to their wedding. I’ve seen them go on to have good lives, have their first baby etc. That’s what makes this so worthwhile.”
For more information about how Unity Trust Bank can support your business, visit www.unity.co.uk.