MBE For Local Woman's Work With Troubled Families

Michele Harris honoured for 'services to children and families'

The head of Wandsworth Council’s Family Recovery Project, Michele Harris, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

The royal decoration recognises her ‘services to children and families’.

Michele has worked in social care for over 40 years, her first job being with Wandsworth Council in 1972 as a house parent in a children’s' home. 

She has spent most of her career in Wandsworth working with vulnerable young people.

In 2011 Michele helped establish one of the country’s  first ‘Family Recovery Projects’ which is dedicated to identifying and supporting local households with the most serious and complex problems.

The team has since been highly commended by the Government for its success in turning these families around and tackling deep rooted issues.

Of all the families who have completed the Wandsworth programme, just under 68 per cent have had their lives dramatically changed for the better within one year. This is the highest ranked score in London.

Michele said: “I’m very humbled and honoured to receive this award and the truth is it belongs to more than just me. My team and the many people I work with in Wandsworth do an incredible job everyday and they deserve this just as much as I do.

“It’s my privilege to serve my community and I feel very lucky to be recognised for doing the job I love.”

Executive member for children’s services Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “Congratulations to Michele who thoroughly deserves this honour. She has made an outstanding contribution to our community throughout her career and has our deepest gratitude and appreciation.

“The team Michele now leads is transforming the lives of our most seriously troubled families and the benefits of their work will be felt by in Wandsworth for generations to come.”

The Family Recovery Project (FRP) is a multi-agency service set up by Wandsworth Council and a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies including the local police, health services and Job Centre Plus.   

The FRP works intensively alongside a small number of complex families focusing on treating the root causes of social breakdown rather than dealing only with its symptoms.  

The multi-agency team continuously mediate and support these families who are at risk of losing their children into care, losing their homes or, in the case of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, their liberty.  

The FRP works to strengthen and stabilise families to secure better outcomes for children, young people and adults. The project aims to provide stronger support networks and encourage families to take the lead on restoring sustainable and long lasting change.  

The FRP team is a single, unified group of experienced professionals who are able to share information openly while working towards a range of key shared outcomes. They provide intensive targeted and coordinated support to reduce extreme anti-social and criminal behaviour.  

January 3, 2014