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Flintshire: Councillors to discuss progress of Early Help Hub

THE PANDEMIC and cost of living crisis has seen increased demand for Flintshire Council’s Early Help Hub (EHH) with mental health and domestic violence referrals on the rise.

Councillors on the authority’s social and health care scrutiny committee are to discuss the progress of the hub at their meeting this week.

The hub was developed in 2017 to deliver more timely and appropriate early intervention and support to families with greater levels of need.

It is a service that brings together agencies targeting early support for families who do not meet statutorily thresholds for children’s social care.

A report to councillors explains: “When the EHH was launched it consisted of Social Services, Police, Flintshire Local Voluntary Sector (FLVC), Health and Family Information Service.

“Over the years as the EHH has embedded into practice, and to meet the needs of families, additional agencies have joined.

“Currently we have Social Services, Police, Health, Education, Youth Justice, Action for Children, Action for Children Disability Service, Flintshire Local Voluntary Sector, Family Support Team, Domestic Abuse Safety Unit, Clwyd Alyn Women’s Aid and Adult Mental Health.”

Referrals to the hub have grown every year. In 2017 there were 460 referrals. Last year (2022) there were almost 3,000 referrals with the majority school aged children aged between 10-15 and from the Deeside area.

The report adds that “over the years the demand for the service has significantly increased due to a number of factors”, including the success of the service, the pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis.

A significant increase has been seen in challenging behaviours in children, parental mental health, children and young people’s mental health, relationship issues and domestic violence.

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The demand for the hub has also led to the creation of Flintshire’s Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) Service.

This has been designed to provide a quick response in helping partners including schools, police, health and early years to support families.

The report to councillors, which will be presented by cabinet member for social services and wellbeing, Queensferry and Sealand Cllr Christine Jones (Lab) says: “The IAA Service was developed in late 2022 and became operational in February 2023.

“The service (IAA) provides support to families through skilled conversations which works with families to explore their circumstances, thoughts, challenges, dilemmas and solutions to understand what matters most to them and how best to help them.”

But the report notes that resources are still becoming stretched with demand continuing to grow.

It says: “The EHH/IAA service continues to demonstrate value for money and working alongside partners in both statutory, third sector and commissioned services (Family First) and we aim to measure long term well-being and sustained impact following our intervention.”

“This alongside local data enables us to predict demand to inform commissioning accordingly. Although these measures work well there are areas where resources cannot keep up with demand.

“Specifically, coming out of the pandemic we have seen an increase in mental health and domestic violence referrals into the service.

“There is high demand on resources that support in these areas and capacity to meet need is stretched.

“The EHH is taking a proactive approach to support children, young people and parents where there are waiting times for specialist services provided by other agencies. This includes remodelling some of the functions with our teams to meet these needs.”

Flintshire Council’s health and social care scrutiny committee meets this Thursday (June 8) to discuss the report and its findings.