£1m for new team set up to protect at-risk children
A NEW £1 million team will become the first point of contact for people with concerns about vulnerable children and adults in Notts.
The 60-strong team will be set up next Monday and replace the current, more confusing system, which includes a number of contact points.
A dedicated phone number will allow teachers, police officers, doctors, midwives and housing officers to report new concerns about vulnerable children and adults to dedicated staff.
Social workers, early intervention workers, domestic violence and child protection police officers and NHS health specialists will be among those taking calls.
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Notts County Council's lead for children and young people's services councillor Philip Owen said: "This new way of working will dramatically improve the quality and speed of decision-making.
"It 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 coordinated and consistent way, avoiding valuable time being wasted."
The county council has provided £1 million of funding for the new team, known as the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to cover the set-up and ongoing running costs.
People will be able to ring MASH, based in Annesley, with concerns about children from Monday, December 10.
It will start taking calls about vulnerable adults from January.
Superintendent Helen Chamberlain, head of Notts Police Public Protection, said: "We have brought together a team of experts.
"They have been working in isolation but are now located together under one roof, where they are able to discuss cases as they happen and decide on the best course of action quickly, which allows for much earlier intervention and enables us to better support those at risk.
"This will undoubtedly help us to better protect vulnerable children and adults in Nottinghamshire and ensure they receive the help they need as soon as possible."
MASH has been set up following serious case reviews across the UK, which showed that a lack of information sharing was a major problem in child safeguarding nationally.
As a result, local authorities were called on to examine their processes for dealing with safeguarding concerns.
Simon Holmes is the council's operations manager for the new service and oversaw the implementation of the first such service in Devon.
He 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.
"It will reduce duplication of effort too."
Part of the team's role will be to provide consistent information, advice and support to professionals who may have a safeguarding concern.
Elaine Moss, director of quality at NHS Notts County Primary Care Trust, added: "We see this as a ground-breaking opportunity and look forward to continuing improvements for the safety and welfare of the people of Nottinghamshire.
"We know that we can protect people more effectively if the police, social workers and health workers join together."
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Simon Holmes, the council's operations manager for the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub, gives his view on the new service on Page 13.