PROBLEM families who make the lives of their neighbours a misery with antisocial behaviour are the target of a new community programme.

Southend Council’s youth offending team joined forces with South Essex Homes to win £230,000 of Government funding to tackle the problem across the town.

The money will see a dedicated unit set up in the borough to work with individuals, families and children who are likely to be involved in antisocial or nuisance behaviour, in many cases helping stop them getting evicted. Carol Compton, head of Southend Council’s youth offending team, said: “The joint application from the council’s youth offending service and South Essex Homes allows us to work together to tackle the cycle of repeat homelessness and antisocial behaviour.

“We all know bringing up a family can sometimes be a difficult task, and this programme provides support and advice to lead a normal family life.” The new unit will work as an extension of an existing family intervention project, which has been running since 2006.

Families and individuals who have been identified as being at risk of losing their homes or who have already been kicked out, will be assessed and helped to address their behaviour to enable them to keep their homes in future.

Mrs Compton said: “Families at risk of eviction due to antisocial behaviour are more often than not the same families whose children are disproportionately likely to face a lifetime of social exclusion and offending.

“These families often cause significant levels of antisocial behaviour, which creates a detrimental effect on the lives of their neighbours and others in their communities.”

The cash received by the partnership comes from the Government’s family intervention project challenge fund, and is the largest award made in the UK.

Kilworth Avenue resident Glyn Evans, a long-time community campaigner in the Kursaal area, said: “Antisocial behaviour isn’t just a bit of loud noise or bad behaviour now and then, it can be a life-ruining experience.

“I am personally fully supportive of anything that can be done to reduce the incidence of anti-social behaviour at the root cause, and not just paper over it by threatening people or sending them to prison.”