Supporting children and families in new and improved ways

A priority for Collaborative Newcastle is ‘collaborative service transformation’ – this means working together across public, voluntary and community sector health and care organisations in new and innovative ways to redesign key services so they are more joined-up and follow person-centred and community-led approaches.

Children and Families Newcastle is one such project – a great example of our collective efforts to radically re-think the way that we support people in Newcastle.

We asked Judith Hay, Director of Children, Education and Skills at Newcastle City Council, to explain more about how this work has developed, why a new approach was needed and what we’re ultimately aiming to achieve…

Can you explain some of the challenges that children and families in Newcastle have been facing?

Whilst the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still to be felt, we know that children and families have been heavily affected by lockdown – employment opportunities, educational attainment and health and wellbeing have all been negatively impacted over the past 12 months.

But even prior to Covid, we knew that it is not is not always easy for children, young people and families in the City to know where and how to get help when they need it.

Why do we need a new approach to supporting children and families in the City?

We have high-quality health and social care services, but we know that they can sometimes feel fragmented and disconnected from each other by the children and families that want and need to use them.

Children and families in Newcastle have told us they don’t want to have to tell ‘their story’ over and over to different services. They also want to be able to access help, support and advice closer to where they live and ideally through people with whom they have built relationships of trust.

This will become even more important as the pandemic restrictions are lifted, and families seek support to deal with and recover from the impact of the past year.

Who have you been working with to develop this service redesign?

I am so proud of the way organisations and people across Newcastle have come together during a global pandemic to develop a local model for supporting our children and families in new and improved ways.

Our work started with, and has been championed by, Collaborative Newcastle, which includes Newcastle City Council, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle Gateshead CCG and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust – working closely with Newcastle GP Services, the GP Federation for Newcastle, Primary Care Networks and the voluntary sector.

But we have also involved over 200 organisations and voluntary and community groups across the City, including children and young people. The response has been fantastic and over the course of our engagement we have had over 700 responses from different people and community groups which has helped us develop and shape our new Children and Families Newcastle model.

What’s the ultimate aim for Children and Families Newcastle?

 Collectively, we have agreed some really clear and ambitious aims and objectives…

  • We want children, young people and families to be able to get the help and support they need closer to home with people and services they trust. 
  • We want to reset how services work, focusing on building strong relationships with children and families and bringing services into communities through vibrant and welcoming neighbourhood hubs.
  • We want to create spaces where children and families want to go and where they can access lots of different services and activities that are meaningful to them.
  • And we want children and families to be supported to navigate the different services that they might need to help and support them, so we’re investing in creating new roles which will work closely with families to do just this.

So, what happens next?

Importantly, it’s not just a vision and a set of objectives. As a child-friendly and family-focussed City, we’re absolutely committed to this new approach; we now have a plan in place and will be launching Children and Families Newcastle this summer.

We’re looking forward to rolling out this new way of working and we hope that it will enable all children, young people and families in Newcastle to live healthy, safe and happy lives and better support them to achieve their goals.

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