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City Council launches new family support service

Published: Friday, 8th March 2024

Today it was announced four local organisations will work closely with the council to offer their expertise and support to families.

A new service that will help families thrive, stay together and flourish in the future has been launched by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The city council is committed to ensuring that families in Stoke-on-Trent have the best support on offer to ensure that fewer children in our city end up in care.

Today it was announced four local organisations will work closely with the council to offer their expertise and support to families.

Four Locally Trusted Organisations (LTOs) have been appointed to create and co-ordinate a new approach to family support – Stoke-on-Trent Family Matters.

The new scheme is part of the city council’s commitment to investing in the voluntary sector to develop family support in local communities. It will also be a key part of the draft corporate strategy aim to support family life and give children the best start in life.

The LTOs will work in each area of the city, using their local knowledge, skills and expertise and listening to families’ lived experiences to help build the new approach to support families across the city.

Councillor Sarah Hill, cabinet member for children’s services said: “It’s great to see local organisations getting involved in our new approach to family support and I’d like to welcome each of the four organisations on board.

“Voluntary sector groups often have some of the best local connections with families and this will really help us work closer with families across the city.”

Development of an enhanced family support offer over the next two years will include support across the city, based in and out of the growing network of Family Hubs and will be funded with £1.5 million from the Public Health grant.

The enhanced offer will bring together support from a range of specialist services including:

  • Communities programmes
  • Financial support
  • Drug/alcohol treatment
  • Housing support
  • Leisure activities
  • Education
  • Health services
  • Employment support
  • Community safety

The LTOs will each work in one area of the city and the new approach will allow a better understanding of the challenges facing local families and what is currently available to support families to thrive. The four LTOs are:

  • North: Just Family
  • Central: YMCA North Staffordshire
  • South East: Alice Charity
  • South West: Family Focus

Heather Sheldon, Chief Executive Officer of Alice Charity said: “Alice are an established, dynamic and local charity that has immense experience in supporting families. We are excited to be working in true partnership with other established and trusted charities to change the lives of local families and communities. Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of Alice and together we can and we will make a positive difference. As an LTO, Alice will be identifying gaps in services, planning for service improvements, strengthening communities and working closely with other organisations at the heart of the community. This is an exciting time for families in Stoke-on-Trent and we are proud to be part of this.”

The new approach will work alongside the current programme of support on offer from the city council such as Family Hubs as well as statutory social care services and commissioned 0-19 services like health visitors.

Daniel Flynn, Chief Executive Officer of YMCANS said: “YMCA North Staffordshire is proud to serve in our beloved city. We have been given the status of Locally Trusted Organisations by our partners at City Council and are excited to be working in partnership with communities and partners developing support and help for our city’s family. Helping all to thrive and contribute.”

Natalie Ornelas, Chief Executive Officer of Family Focus said: “Family Focus is excited to collaborate with Just Family, Alice Charity, and the YMCA to assist Stoke-on-Trent City Council in delivering an exceptional offer of support to children and families in the city. By working hand in hand with the City Council, we will harness the expertise of our voluntary sector partners to genuinely listen and respond to the needs of children and families throughout the city. This is an exciting opportunity for all in the city to work together for the next generation and generations to come.

Just Family CIC said: “Just Family CIC have been providing specialist family support across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire for the past 4 years, we feel very honoured to be one of the named Local Trusted Organisations for the city of Stoke-on-Trent and we are optimistic that this will allow us to reach more families and support our local community at the earliest possible point.”

Councillor Hill continued: “We’re committed to investing in preventative and early intervention in Stoke-on-Trent, to support children and families. We know that there are over 1,000 children in care in the city and we want to reduce this. The Locally Trusted Organisations are a key part of our new approach to supporting families in the city and are a vital part of the work we’re doing to allow children to remain safely with their families and reduce the number of children in care.

“We also want to make sure we’re supporting all families in the city to grow and thrive, whatever their circumstances. Our new approach to family support is for all families and we will be talking to residents to find out what they want from the new model and how they’d like us to deliver this programme of support.”

The new Family Matters website will launch soon.