Updated: Thursday, 12th December 2019 @ 5:54am

Manchester kids and families in need to get help quicker thanks to council scheme

Manchester kids and families in need to get help quicker thanks to council scheme

| By Zoe Starbuck

Help can’t come soon enough for some of Manchester’s disadvantaged children and families but it WILL come sooner thanks to a new council initiative to build a better, brighter future for those in need.

The ‘Early Help Strategy’, launched this week by the City Council, is inspired by the belief providing support as soon as possible for the city’s struggling kids – and their mums and dads –  is essential to improving their life prospects.

Families for whom times are touch will be assessed quicker so they can receive the help they need earlier, using a systemic, multi-agency and consistent approach that will allow early intervention.

Interim Strategic Director Children and Families Gladys Rhodes-White said: "Our new ‘Early Help Strategy’ brings together best practice between agencies and will ensure a consistent approach to providing the right help to families at the right time. 

“Children, young people and their families will receive the right intervention as early as possible to tackle problems and prevent issues escalating.”

Schools, health workers, social workers, the police, the fire service, and any other professionals working with or coming into contact with kids will use the new ‘Early Help Assessment’ to identify whether the child or young person is in need of support.

The new assessment uses a system based around five levels – the lowest being where a child or family has needs but they’re being met, and the highest being where a child is at risk of suffering significant harm.

As well as measuring the level of need and ‘putting support in place where it is required’, the assessment also accounts for the ability of the young person or family to make their own changes and help themselves.

Ms Rhodes-White said:  "It is also about recognising within this the things that families already do well for themselves and giving them the confidence to help them build on these strengths and reduce their reliance on public services."

Central to the new plan is the ‘whole family’ approach.

It aims to connect families with their communities so they can build networks of friendship and support to increase their emotional resilience and mental wellbeing.

This could involve making links with institutions like their local children's centre, their school, their GP, or other community groups.  

Once these connections have been made it becomes easier to identify early which families need extra help, allowing effective local support to be put into place.

Executive Member Children's Services Councillor Sheila Newman said: "Early help should be everyone's business.

“In addition to keeping children, young people and their families healthy and safe, doing it well helps build communities by preventing crime, supporting education and enterprise, and through this, making communities places that people want to live in and feel they are a part of.”

Another initiative included in the plan will be the establishment of three early help hubs – one each in the north, south and central parts of the city.

These hubs will be community based and the focal point for the delivery of local services and as well as the access point for more intensive interventions.

Ms Newman also said: "Our vision is to ensure that all our children and young people are safe, healthy, aspiring and achieving, and that families have the resilience to cope with the demands life brings. 

“Early help is fundamental to achieving this vision and we're determined to do everything we [can to] support all children and families to achieve their full potential."

Image courtesy of Rob McIlvaine, via U.S. Amy, with thanks.