Keys to the Future Knowsley. Helping excluded children in Merseyside rebuild their lives

Shelter is seeking donations towards Keys to the Future Knowlsey – a £670k project which will help some of the most excluded children in the UK. The Merseyside borough of Knowsley is one of the most deprived in the country. Children in the area are some of the UK’s most socially excluded, with low educational prospects and life chances. Such children often find it difficult to access vital services and support. Yet this support is essential if they are to overcome emotional and behavioural problems, achieve at school and develop into successful young adults. This project will help over 600 highly excluded children get the support they need to thrive within their families and learn and achieve at school. As a result, we will help prevent children falling into a cycle of anti-social behaviour and offending.

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Registered Charity in England and Wales (263710)


Amount raised





  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Homeless/RefugeHomeless/Refuge
  • Human Rights/AdvocacyHuman Rights/Advocacy


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



The Merseyside borough of Knowsley is one of the most deprived in the country, with generations out of work. Children here get excluded from social housing, either because they are classed as ‘intentionally homeless’ or because they face eviction for the family’s problem behaviour. This often tops a mountain of problems for families who are under severe stress, trapping children in a vicious circle of vulnerability and exclusion. Some families break up under the strain and the children are taken into care, leading to a traumatic separation from their parents. ‘She’s six years old and she’s depressed. She seems to be crying all the time. She’s insecure. She can’t be classed as normal at school.’ Homeless mother Children in families considered ‘intentionally homeless’ often find it difficult to get vital services and support. Yet this support is essential if they are to overcome their problems and avoid unachieving or falling into anti-social or offending behaviour. Keys to the Future Knowsley will be dedicated to making sure the needs of excluded and vulnerable children are recognized and met. We want to ensure they get help for the numerous problems they face: depression, which can manifest as bullying or being bullied, stress and developmental problems and a disrupted education that severely impacts on their future life chances. Our team will carry out a thorough assessment of 600 children over the lifetime of the project, including their schooling, health, and any emotional and behavioural difficulties. We will make this comprehensive picture available to all agencies with a part to play, such as health services, educational welfare and social services. And we will provide a lead role in coordinating their input in a child’s life. For 120 children who are already severely traumatised by their circumstances, we will provide direct help. Our child support workers will help them rebuild all the things that have broken down in their lives, supporting them to have fun, relate positively to authority and strengthen relationships with parents. In this way the project will reduce stress in families and help children break out of a damaging cycle of poverty and underachievement. Over three years the project will ensure vulnerable children enjoy better physical, mental and emotional health; improve their chances at school and in later life; reduce offending and antisocial behaviour and prevent homelessness among ‘at risk’ families. Help us give these children the chances in life they deserve.