Family, friends and relationships

Family, friends and relationships

Supporting families through the challenges they face

committed to charities and social enterprises


number of children accessing affordable nursery or childcare

of investments ahead or on track to deliver social impact


The consequences of relationship breakdown, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness are significant for individuals and society. It can be difficult for some people to cope with the challenges in life without a proper support network. 

Charities and social enterprises are using social investment to support vulnerable young people, provide high-quality childcare and help children on the edge of care – with an emphasis on early action and prevention. Revenue is largely generated through fees or payment by results contracts from local authorities, although it can take time to build partnerships with commissioners to replicate successful interventions. 

Impact evidence is well developed in this area as charities and social enterprises have to report back to commissioners about what has been achieved. Over time, we want to build up a better understanding about the longer term effect of interventions for vulnerable children to help strategically target our investments. 

Further information is available on our social issue page for family, friends and relationships

London Early Years Foundation

Social impact

Improving the lives of young people in care

Family Action received £700,000 of investment from Social and Sustainable Capital to develop Safe Haven, an intervention that aims to improve the lives of vulnerable young people in care. Revenue is generated from commissioning by local authorities who pay for successful results that are achieved. The service provides intensive wraparound support that is tailored to the young person’s needs. The programme offers young people a 24 hour a day bespoke package of support which is also available to carers and their birth families. 

Providing high quality childcare

The London Early Years Foundation is a leading provider of nurseries in the capital and has taken on £1.25 million investment from Big Issue Invest and Bridges Ventures. Over 4,000 children have attended nursery and 95% of customers were satisfied with the services provided. The organisation is the largest provider of free two-year-old nursery places in London and uses an innovative cross-subsidy model which involves using surpluses from its nurseries in affluent parts of London to subsidise 43% of places in more deprived areas for people on low incomes. 

Helping children on the edge of care

Action for Children delivers the Children’s Support Services £3 million social impact bond in Essex, using Multi Systemic Therapy to help families build resilience, skills and the confidence they need to turn their lives around. So far, 242 people have received support resulting in over 40,000 days of care being averted and revenue is generated through outcome payments as part of the social impact bond contract. 


Outcomes contracts give providers greater scope and flexibility to adapt and improve their existing approaches in evolving operating environments since the commissioner is no longer specifying exactly how the services should be delivered.  In addition to the improved life chances for the children and families affected, keeping children out of care results in savings in the cost of care for commissioners, and has been replicated in different Local Authorities across the country.

Social impact bonds have robust performance management systems to ensure that rigorous impact data is gathered. This is particularly relevant in areas such as children’s services, where the personal and financial benefits of enabling children to grow up in a family home are clear and easily quantifiable. The performance measurement process has helped the Government and organisations involved in social impact bonds to sharpen their impact approach and refine their delivery model.

Approaches and requirements can be very different across local authority boundaries and commissioners face many demands on their time and resources which can be a barrier to developing preventative models. We have invested in an organisation (EBSI) that provided support to develop products such as social impact bonds in children’s services but found that this business model is challenging because of the long time frames needed to engage commissioners and ultimately generate revenue.

There are innovative approaches like the London Early Years Foundation who use cross-subsidy to provide high-quality childcare to children from more disadvantaged backgrounds and improve their life chances. However,  the viability of early years providers in less affluent areas, and their ability to scale, is heavily dependent on the rate paid by the government for childcare and whether or not this is enough to cover the salary costs of well-trained childcare workers.

For example, changes to national adoption policy had a significant impact on the viability of the Adoption social impact bond. The Department for Education’s Keep on Caring, building on the 2013 Care Leaver Strategy, and Sir Martin Narey’s review into children’s residential care increased the policy priority in this area, leading to centrally-led programmes to improve provision using social investment.