Making connections in Glasgow communities

Children 1st local team leader Theresa Marsili explains how through partnership working we’re making a difference to children and families in Glasgow.

Glasgow is a diverse city. There is wealth, but also a high level of deprivation. Across its population of almost 600,000 you’ll find many cultures and spoken languages. So for Children 1st to make the biggest difference it can we need to work closely with others. That’s what we do.


Each month we meet with social work, health and education services, amongst others, to consider the needs of children and families in the South of Glasgow. Membership of these Joint Support Teams enables us to coordinate support for families, and ensure that they receive supports which best meet their needs.  


Here’s an example of how it can work. We discuss a family with a 2 year old child who are struggling to cope with a difficult family situation. Education offers a nursery place for the boy. We say we’ll complement that with home-based family support. Social work finds out who else is working with the family, and puts us in touch with them. We check back at the next meeting, to ensure everyone has done what they said and that the family’s situation is improving.


Important as our links with statutory agencies are, other partnerships are even more critical to us. These are with the children, families and communities we support. Unless we invest in them, we won’t ever be able to fully understand and meet their needs. That’s why we’ve encouraged mums in the Gorbals to start the Friday Group, which with our support is becoming a powerful force for making the community a better one to grow up in. These mums are gaining confidence together, and becoming less isolated. But we’re also learning loads from them: about what’s needed, and what works, in the Gorbals. We can’t assume all of that learning will be transferrable to other communities, so we’re looking at how we might be a catalyst and facilitator of similar groups in other parts of the city.      


Our partnerships with established community organisations are also vital. A great example is with A&M Scotland, which delivers programmes of diversionary activity to young people from areas of high social deprivation in the city. Over six weeks a group of A&M staff and volunteers, including young leaders aged 17 to 22, received our ‘Communities Putting Children First’ awareness training. According to A&M Chief Executive Robert McHarg, it’s had a big impact.


He says: “The young people have grown in confidence when raising child protection issues. Before the training, reporting was significantly lower. All have been increasingly vocal in ensuring that fellow members of our coaching staff are more aware of the range of issues and how best to address these.”