Kirklees Stronger Families project up for national award

Family

A project which has turned around the lives of more than 1,000 local families with the most severe problems in our society has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Stronger Families programme helps parents and children with issues such as domestic violence, crime, abuse, drugs and poor school attendance by bringing all the relevant support agencies under one umbrella.

The pioneering programme has involved social workers, police, schools, housing, health and drug workers since 2012 and is in line for an award from social work profession magazine Children and Young People Now. The first phase of the programme improved the plight of 1,115 families in our area, while the second, running to 2020, will target 4,000 local families.

Head of the Stronger Families programme Clare Mulgan, said:

We have found by working this way we are able to get families every aspect of help they need faster, with dramatic results. The families receive highly co-ordinated support and therefore start to engage and tackle their difficulties.”

Cllr Viv Kendrick, our cabinet member for Prevention, Early Intervention and Vulnerable Adults, said:

At a time when the reputation of social work is low, it’s vital for us to highlight trailblazing programmes such as these which make a real and lasting difference to the lives of children, families and society.

Stronger Families has already supported some of the most vulnerable families in Kirklees and will support many more. Our aim is to help these families resolve their issues, live happier lives and make a positive contribution to both society and the local economy.

Every credit should be given to the staff and partners who have worked together to make this project such a great success.”

Stronger Families has been shortlisted in the Early Intervention category of the awards, which attracted 600 total entries. We are a member of Children’s Social Work Matters, set up in 2012 by the 15 local authorities of Yorkshire and the Humber to raise the profile and standards of children’s social work in the region. Another initiative and four individual children’s social workers in Yorkshire have been shortlisted for other awards.

Claire’s story

Single mother Claire and her two sons have benefited from the Stronger Families programme.

Claire was crippled with debt, struggling with mental health issues and unable to meet her children’s basic needs. William, aged 10, was going to school unkempt and was being bullied. Paul, 12, was self-harming. Their relationships with each other had broken down and the home was dangerously unhygienic.

Social workers first put a plan in place to protect the children. Claire was then persuaded to attend mental health appointments and courses on how to keep a home safe and on parenting, where she learned to use tools such as reward charts. The children were given prompt access to a youth worker and relevant counselling services. Their school was involved throughout and encouraged the boys to take part in extra curricular activities. Their support worker made sure they had the right uniform.

Within a year, their house is organised and clean, with the family sharing jobs. Claire has gained her first qualification and has enrolled at college to take another. Paul has learned how to manage his hygiene while his brother has joined a sports club, enjoys biking and even has friends over for sleepovers.

Claire has now said she would not have been motivated to make the necessary changes without the multi-agency support.  Paul says, “you’re the best” to his support worker and his shy elder brother nods in agreement.

Head of the Stronger Families programme Clare Mulgan said:

Before Stronger Families, this family would have been given fragmented support and would likely have floundered, putting the children at real risk. What we were able to do using the Stronger Families network structure was to get alongside them, tackle all their problems and stick with them until they got themselves sorted out.”

*All names mentioned in Claire’s story are fictional

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