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Family by Family – peer support

Shared Lives Plus, the UK charity for shared living is bringing a new model of family peer support to the UK through a pilot project in Stoke-on-Trent.

Family by Family was started in Australia, founded by TACSI, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation and connects Sharing Families– a family that has been through tough times and come out the other side – with Seeking Families – families who are going through tough times and want to make change in their lives.

We are now working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Department for Education Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area and the Australian creators of the model, TACSI to bring the early support model to UK councils.

For more information, please contact

What is Family by Family?

Family by Family in Stoke-on-Trent connects Sharing Families– a family that has been through tough times and come out the other side – with Seeking Families – families who are going through tough times and want to make change in their lives.

Nobody tells the families what they need to change – everyone’s goals are different.

Together the families work on achieving goals and move towards thriving lives, supported by a coach.

What is the aim of the pilot programme?

The pilot aims to show that Family by Family can support families in the UK and enable families to get through tough times, reducing referrals to statutory services or crisis response.

We are looking for referrals from Children’s services, schools, health workers, local community services, and the voluntary sector supporting children to identify parents who could do with some support, especially during COVID.

We hope to recruit 12 Sharing Families to each support multiple Seeking Families through this pioneering project, which will establish local, national and international partnerships and show that Family by Family could be used by many more councils across the UK.

How can I bring Family by Family to my area?

If you would like to know more about starting Family by Family in your area, or to make a referral, please contact 

Shared Lives Plus has a proven track record of bringing community based support to the UK, building on each person’s inherent strengths and personalities. We want more areas to start Family by Family and redesign our public services so they play to our shared strengths. We are looking for pioneering local authorities who are willing to take the lessons we learn through this pilot programme in Stoke-on-Trent and help build kinder and stronger communities.

How are families linked together?

Seeking Families will have a choice of families they can get to know. They direct what works for them.

To start with, we will offer up to three profiles of local families who may be a suitable match based on shared experience, circumstance or cultural and religious values – whatever is important to the families and will help them get through the tough time.

Both families are supported by a coach who helps them keep focussed on the changes the seeking family wants to make.

What do families do together?

A Link Up is where two families are connected through our coaches.

Link ups start with families getting to know each other, chatting, sharing stories and doing fun stuff together and building their relationship.

Then both families begin to work on the Seeking Family’s goals, encouraging, helping and celebrating the small wins that happen along the way and practically walking alongside them to achieve their goals.

Link ups enable change for families; in behaviour, social networks, attitudes and protective factors. They enable families to concretely work towards new behaviours by having these role-modelled by another family who has been there and done that.

What kind of things do Sharing Families help with?

Link ups can help families increase social capital through connection to: sporting clubs, voluntary work, coffee clubs, playgroups, local libraries and services.

They can also practically help families with; learning new behaviours, working on home environments, brining attention to the families strength’s, parenting and child development, reducing stress and increasing confidence in the family.

A link up lasts for 10 to 30 weeks, depending on the size of the goal defined by the Seeking Family.

About the partners

Shared Lives Plus

Shared Lives Plus is the UK membership charity for more than 6,000 Shared Lives carers, 150 Shared Lives schemes and a growing network of over 25 local Homeshare organisations. Our vision is a kinder, stronger society built on sharing our lives and our homes. We help build communities where everyone lives a full life, regardless of the support they need. We do this by turning shared living models, such as Shared Lives, Homeshare and Family by Family into thriving, mainstream options, with all the right structures in place to support and guide who want to share their lives.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

For our city and its residents to achieve their full potential, we need to focus on the outcomes that we want to change and how we are going to achieve this crucial transformation. This includes continuing to look for better ways to deliver our services, and considering whether some of the things we do might be better done by others. As a City Council, we will continue to work with local, regional and national partners to get the very best for our city, and to make it a city we can all be proud of.

TACSI – The Australian Centre for Social Innovation

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation brings people into the heart of shaping their lives and society.

Formed in 2009 as an initiative of the South Australian Government, TACSI is now an independent social enterprise working on projects and initiatives across Australia. Bringing together a unique and diverse team of people from all over the world, the staff at TACSI are all united in their commitment to developing new and better ways to build social and economic prosperity for all.

Department for Education Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area

The 12 opportunity areas (OAs) are social mobility cold spots where the Department for Education (DfE) is prioritising resources, and bringing local and national partners together, to break the link between a child’s family background and where they get to in life. The core objective is to improve outcomes for children and young people from early education through to employment.