Despite the range of life changes experienced by young people who are multiple service users (MSU), many demonstrate remarkable levels of optimism. This article reports on the changes in living arrangements (including out-of-home placements), schooling, and social workers, experienced by a sub-sample of 16 multiple service using young people with complex needs who participated in a mixed methods study (n = 605). Case file data and qualitative interviews were analysed in order to understand young people's experiences of change and the factors that supported them to adapt positively to these. The findings revealed that change disrupted service delivery but that the active involvement of family and at least one service provided more effective support for young people experiencing change than either of those resources alone. Memories and imaginations of family may act as an emotional co-presence or identity resource when active family support is unavailable. The findings provide an argument for relationship-based, long term service involvement with young people with complex needs which complements or supplements family relationships particularly when these are inactive.
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