Creating win win wins in the West of Scotland

Children 1st local manager Ruth Ritchie explains how through partnership we’re making a bigger difference for children and families in Argyll and Bute.

Tiree is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. Getting there from the mainland isn’t cheap or easy. But for the Children 1st Argyll and Bute team it’s vital, as there are children there who need our support to recover from abuse and other traumatic experiences. So how, with our time and budget already stretched, could we do it?

We asked Argyll and Bute Council to help. It gave us an extra £30,000 initially, to reach children in remote locations such as Tiree and give them one-to-one support for up to six months.

That’s just one example of how our partnerships locally are enabling us to do more with and for children and families. Another is that we’re working with statutory and third sector partners to establish a central point for discussion of children and families’ needs, and for coordination of action to address them. We also benefit from being co-located and integrated with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health services team for the area.

Our partners involve us in their work because they recognise the quality of our contribution. For example we have staff with expertise in Systemic Family Therapy, an approach that looks at families as a whole, not just children, and helps them address deeply rooted issues that in some instances originate in the childhood experiences of parents. That recognition was demonstrated by a recent council funding decision. It decided to invest in family support we provide as part of a local Public Social Partnership for an additional year, following conclusion of its initial Scottish Government funding.

Our partners also tell us whenever there’s an addition to the local child protection register. That’s a trigger for us to offer support to children aged five and older so that their voice is heard when formal decisions are made about them. After decisions are made, we ask children and families how the experience was for them and feed that back to the Argyll and Bute Child Protection Committee. A lot can be learned from this: for example how and why tensions can form in relationships between families and social workers and how these might be eased.

So it’s a win, win, win situation – for us, for our statutory partners and, most importantly, for children and families.