Manchester City Council

Safety in Numbers

Spent a fascinating couple of hours yesterday morning in the MASH. This is a set of initials but has nothing to do with Robert Altman's glorious film or the TV series spin-off.

It stands, I think, for Multi-Agency Service Hub, and is the starting point for telephone calls, e-mails, letters, faxes (yes faxes) and texts raising issues about children's safety in the city. Located in the Town Hall extension, the team brings together the contact centre with social workers and colleagues from health, police, probation and education along with virtual partners outside the MASH to make sure that not only are all contacts dealt with rapidly but also in the way that best meets a child's needs.

My visit started in the contact centre and included listening into a couple of calls which in themselves showed the range of what contact staff have to deal with. One was from a health professional in Tameside wanting to know whether a Middleton address was in Manchester. It wasn't of course but our member of staff was not only able to confirm that in seconds but also give the Tameside worker the contact number for Rochdale Children's Services.

Another raised serious issues involving drugs, violence and neglect and there was an immediate discussion with a senior social worker to identify the right course of action which in this case was to allocate to the district social work team. I spent sometime with the senior social work staff looking at how they review every potential case that comes in. In many there is no further action. For some they are deflected into the early help teams. For a small number there is a reference to the district social work teams. Each one is checked to make sure that they have been allocated correctly. Having other agencies in the room means that children's services staff can call for information and advice from those services and get a really rapid, often almost instant response.

I finished the visit with a conversation with staff in the Hub representing social work, early help, police, health and probation, who were clearly all enthused by the way the MASH works. Our services for children have gone through a rough time and the MASH is a key part in bringing them up to the quality we would want. I left the unit very impressed and very grateful for the time staff had shared with me.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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