Family Lives befriending pilot: final evaluation report

Coram offers specialist consultancy evaluation services to a variety of institutions providing research and policy analysis, support for service evaluation, and participatory research with children, young people, parents and staff

This final report represents the conclusion of an independent evaluation of the ‘Instructions Not Included’ (INI) pilot parenting and family support programme, delivered by Family Lives, and funded by the Department for Education. INI was designed to trial a volunteer-led model of delivering parenting and family support for vulnerable families, to develop and disseminate best practice and to raise public and practitioner awareness of parenting and family support.

This report examines the pilot’s performance over the two years, focusing on the development of the befriending volunteer service. The report considers the development of the INI befriending model, how it worked in practice, outcomes and impact produced and its cost effectiveness as a model of family support.

Key findings

  • The project had a positive effect on parents’ mental well-being and parenting style, as well as on their children’s behaviour; these are all key protective factors for achieving long term child outcomes.
  • Volunteers found the experience highly rewarding, gaining personal satisfaction as well as transferable work skills.
  • The operational costs of INI were comparable to other individual family support services and other befriending services.