Social services Early Help Strategy

Early Help is intervening as soon as possible to tackle problems faced by children, young people and their families or with people most at risk of developing problems. The intervention may occur at any point in a child or young person’s life.

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Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools

Welcome to Manchester's interactive Early Help Strategy. 

My name is Garry Bridges and I'm a councillor and the Executive Member for Children's Services in Manchester. 

Through consultation one of the things that staff and practitioners told us is that they rarely get time to read strategies and they often sit on their desks unread. 

So this is a way of doing things differently. It's meant to be an interactive strategy that people can use whenever they need it. 

Every child in the city has the ability to be safe, happy, healthy and successful. That's a shared vision that the council and all of our partners have. 

Lots of families in our city are really, really resilient but they can also face some really difficult times. So what the Early Help Strategy is about is recognising that those families might need some help and support from one or other of the agencies that they work with to help them cope with the day-to-day pressures they face. 

Early Help is definitely best thought of as an approach rather than as a service. It's something that we all collectively own and that we all will deliver together - it's not just based within Manchester City Council. 

I think what the Strategy does is pick up a lot of the really good work that's going on already across the city. A lot of organisations are already engaged in Early Help, whether they decide to call it that or not. I know I'm a school governor and know that lots of schools across the city already do deliver what is Early Help – supporting families when problems present themselves. 

So what the Strategy does is bring together all the different things that are going on across the city under the umbrella of Early Help.

Relationships are absolutely at the heart of Early Help.  Early Help is a multi-disciplinary offer which is all of our agencies coming together to offer support to families. And those relationships built up at a local level are absolutely vital in order to be able to give support to families. 

Families within our city have loads of strengths. Families are really resilient and offer each other and themselves a lot of support. And it's actually only if we recognise that, that we'll be able to offer the additional support and help to work with families rather than trying to see what's wrong and trying to fix things outside of families. 

The idea is to do things as early as possible and to do things with families to make the biggest impact. And the best way you are going be able to do that is if you work close to where families feel comfortable; and with agencies and organisations that they have trusted relationships with. 

Our Youth Council are really vocal about what we should and shouldn't be doing and I think that's really fantastic. As a non-practitioner, a non-professional, myself I share a lot of their thoughts on this. It's really powerful. 

The strategies are as simple and straightforward as possible. Problems don't exist in isolation. Usually one problem may be something that people spot that's actually symptomatic of other problems going on that affect a family. And I think if you take a step back and see the family in the round then you'll be able to have a much better impact on the family as a whole.

Everywhere I've been across the city, all the staff are really passionate about Early Help. And really articulate about the philosophy behind it. And really passionate about the work they do and the impact they have on kids. Early Help is everybody's business, because supporting families and supporting children is everybody's business.

So that's the refresh of our Early Help approach. It's important to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the last three years and to look forward to the next stage of our Early Help journey.

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