Assessment Mapping with Tightrope Toolkit

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Summary: Tightrope tool is an assessment and planning process that uses an analogy that addresses areas of risk, resilience and desistance with young people.
Age: 10-17
Sex: n/a
Cost: yes




  • The Tightrope allows workers to meaningfully engage young people in the assessment and planning process with a simple analogy that addresses the complex areas of risk, resilience and desistance. 




Assessment Mapping with The Tightrope uses the analogy that adolescence can be like walking on a tightrope. The Toolkit comes with a one-page form, a series of prompt cards and guidance for practitioners (each prompt is referenced to research and further reading). The young person and a practitioner work around the analogy to identify balancing skills and strengths that the young person has to navigate their tightrope (resilience), any steps that make the tightrope higher (dynamic risk factors), what foundations support the tightrope (resilience aids), the strength and flexibility of the safety net (external controls), anything that makes the path / foundation more ‘muddy’ or ‘wobbly’ (past concerns and static risk factors), the steps needed to reach their goals (planning) and the motivation they have to take their first step.

The Tightrope prompts are holistic in that they are based on research on youth offending, self-harm, substance misuse and neglect. The Tightrope can be used simply as a discussion aid to identify the internal and external strengths that support a young person through volatile transitions or as a series of sessions that include all the prompt cards within the full toolkit in order to have a meaningful dialogue and understanding of what supports the young person to overcome risks.
Practitioners can use the one-page form to summarise the assessment and plan, either for the young person, their managers or to various risk / vulnerability panels. When the Tightrope is reviewed there is a visual representation of changes in risk, resilience or motivation through changes in the height of the ladder and the scaling questions built into the form.

A short introduction with the template and inform guidance is available at no cost, and can be requested  Training must be undertaken in order to be able to use the tool effectively, and if quoting ‘Resource Hub’ then teams can have the reduced YJB INSET rate of £500 a day. Further support is available following completion of the training to support implementation.



Implementing the Practice:

  • Redbridge have found that the tool is less confrontational way to get a young person to identify their risk areas/concerns
  • Redbridge have found that young people often respond well to seeing their risk, needs and strengths in a visual format.
  • Redbridge have found that young people respond positively to identifying their strengths as much of their work with professionals focuses on concerns
  • Practitioners at Redbridge have found that it is an effective way to identify interventions that need to be completed as young people have already identified what they need to do to get down from the ladder
  • A staff member at Redbridge found it particularly useful with girls, as a method of early engagement
  • A bail and remand worker in Hammersmith and Fulham has reported "in 10 years ihave not managed to gain so much info in one session using such an effective assessment tool"
  • Young people in Wandsworth have told their workers that the Tightrope is interactive and has helped them make better choices.
  • A Locality Youth Work Manager in Wandsworth and her team have found the Tightrope analogy to be helpful for effectively engaging with teenage parents and vulnerable girls at risk of CSE
  • A staff member in Lambeth feels the Tightrope has helped young people open up about their motivation for concerning behavior and to discuss healthy relationships. They feel the Tightrope is helpful because it is set out in a non-threatening way and isn’t just based on risk. 




YOT: Redbridge Youth Offending & Targeted Prevention Service Children Services
Name: Helen Anthony
Organisation: Battersea and Tooting Locality Youth Work Service
Name: Peggy Jhugroo
Source Organisation: Vlinder Consultancy Ltd
Name: Dr Roberta Evans



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