£1m centre to save vulnerable children

A NEW APPROACH -- pictured (from left) are operations manager for the new safeguarding hub, Simon Holmes, director of quality at NHS Notts County Primary Care Trust, Elaine Moss, Notts County Council's corporate director for children and young people's services, Anthony May, and head of Nottinghamshire police public protection, Supt Helen Chamberlain.
A NEW APPROACH -- pictured (from left) are operations manager for the new safeguarding hub, Simon Holmes, director of quality at NHS Notts County Primary Care Trust, Elaine Moss, Notts County Council's corporate director for children and young people's services, Anthony May, and head of Nottinghamshire police public protection, Supt Helen Chamberlain.

A NEW £1 million centre designed to help keep vulnerable children and adults safe has been opened in Annesley.

A 60-strong team at the base will become the first point of contact for handling new child and adult safeguarding concerns across the county.

The operation was officially launched by children’s minister, Edward Timpson, on Monday.

It offers a single point of contact staffed by social workers and early-intervention workers from Notts County Council, police officers from the force’s domestic violence and child protection units and NHS health specialists.

The centre is at Mercury House on Little Oak Drive on the Sherwood Business Park.

Money invested in the project has primarily come from the county council and covers set-up and ongoing running costs. Other agencies have also helped fund the set-up costs.

County council committee chairman for children and young people’s services, Coun Philip Owen (Con), said: “This new way of working will dramatically improve the quality and speed of decision-making for safeguarding concerns.

“It’s an excellent example of partnership working which will allow the agencies involved to collate and share information on a case quickly and use this to make a swift decision on the most appropriate action needed. Currently organisations deal with concerns in isolation.

“It’s about making sure that families get the right support early on and that we do this in a more co-ordinated and consistent way, avoiding valuable time being wasted.”

The service, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (or MASH for short), will begin receiving adult safeguarding concerns from early January.

A dedicated phone number will allow professionals such as nurses, teachers, police officers, doctors, midwives and housing officers to report a new concern.

The single contact point will replace a range of existing referral points and will allow agencies to work together more closely — an approach which is already working well for local authorities elsewhere in the country.

Simon Holmes, the council’s operations manager for the new service, said: “As well as reducing the risk of harm to vulnerable children and adults, this new approach will also highlight potentially vulnerable families and mean that more preventative action can be taken to deal with cases before the situation deteriorates further.”