Agenda item

Stronger Families Hub review


The Chairman noted that the purpose of this item was for the Committee to review the draft findings and recommendations. There had been six witness sessions to date. The first heard from officers who gave an introduction to the Stronger Families Hub. The second and third heard from young people and their parents/ carers about their experiences of using the Hub. The fourth heard from Hub staff. The fifth heard from health representatives, and the sixth, which was held in two parts, heard from education representatives. Members thanked the witnesses for their time, noting that it was especially useful, during the sixth sessions, to hear from schools in both the north and the south of the Borough. It was further noted that without the witnesses’ and officers’ input, the Committee would have no recommendations to make to Cabinet.


Members summarised from the witness sessions that the service was greatly appreciated, and that officers were very enthusiastic to make it work. However, a ‘fragility of capacity’ had been noted across several witness sessions. Members also noted that they wanted the service to be available to all residents who needed it, and that early help was better than later help.


Members noted that an advantage of the Stronger Families Hub model was that families only had to tell their story once, but further noted the ‘fragility of capacity’. Members also highlighted a potential staffing issue around a careers pathway/ progression for Hub staff.


Members noted that there may be opportunities to learn from best practise elsewhere. However, officers noted that the Stronger Families Hub was the first of its kind as a 24/7 service, and it may be that other Local Authorities used the Stronger Families Hub to learn from themselves. Members praised officers for having the first service of its kind.


Members asked about engagement across communities, and asked whether it would be possible to advertise the Stronger Families Hub in alternative languages with a view to reaching out to a wide range of communities. This may also help with engagement in schools and faith groups.


Members noted suggested recommendation four (“To note the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s review into the effectiveness of the CAMHS referral pathway, and to review ways to enhance signposting around mental health services via the Hub and to voluntary sectors”) with a view to including reference to the private sector within this recommendation. Members also raised a point about considering the timing of getting young peoples’ feedback on the service. Officers advised that mechanisms for obtaining feedback now existed within each service area, and not within the Hub itself.


The Chairman noted issues around parental consent, and that as the Stronger Families Hub was a consent-based service, not having parental consent could have an impact on the support obtained. Safety was a priority, and so the Stronger Families Hub referral form should include an option to explain why parental consent had/ had not been obtained. Officers agreed that concerns around consent needed to be addressed.


Members suggested removing the word ‘annually’ from the first suggested recommendation (“To renew awareness of the Stronger Families Hub annually with partners to keep abreast of changes or new developments. This is to include an annual renewal of the membership of the Stronger Families sub-group to ensure it reflects all stakeholders”).


Members further suggested a recommendation to reflect promotion through third sector organisations, schools (including those out-of-Borough) and elected Members themselves.


RESOLVED: That the Committee considered possible conclusions, findings and draft recommendations in relation to the review.


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