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How Surrey’s Family Support programme is inspiring further integration of services

Source: Public Sector Executive June/July 2014

The Family Support programme in Surrey showcases partnership working at its best, writes Sean Rafferty, head of Surrey Family Services.

The Family Support programme, which is Surrey’s response to the national Troubled Families initiative, aims to support vulnerable families and provide better outcomes whilst also saving public money. Collaborative working has enabled the implementation of a redesigned local community based integrated service which brings together all the relevant agencies to form a Team Around the Family and has produced some impressive early results.

Surrey has been given the target by the Department for Community & Local Government’s Troubled Families Unit of turning around the lives of 1,050 families by May 2015. The programme has already helped over 500 families and aims to support another 500 families by the end of the year.

In recent feedback from a family in Surrey Heath, the mother said: “Thank you so much, it has been helpful. It is thanks to the programme that I have been able to put measures in place around my two sons’ behaviours and the Family Support programme has provided a lot of help and hopefully things will continue to improve.”

The behaviours of the two children have significantly improved in the family home.  The mother is able to get the children into school on time having received staff support at 7am daily to help establish positive boundaries, alongside a coordinated and sequenced Team Around the Family involving professionals across Surrey public agencies.

The programme highlights what can be achieved when partners within the public sector – including the county council, 11 borough and district councils, police, NHS, probation, schools and the Department for Work and Pensions – work together systematically.

In fact, the Surrey Family Support programme formed part of Surrey’s successful bid to join the government’s Public Service Transformation Network and develop a community budget approach for other local public services.

Our Family Support programme – which we are scaling up to cover between 4,000 and 7,000 families with multiple problems over three years from 2014-18 – is one of six key areas of work within Surrey’s Public Service Transformation programme. Our aim is that services will shift from providing reactive and often high cost services towards prevention. Like the Family Support programme, these redesigned services will cost less, provide better outcomes for residents and deliver better value for money.

The programme to deliver these improvements has started – aside from the Family Support programme, the areas of work are: 

• Emergency Services Collaboration, which aims to transform the way the emergency services in Surrey and Sussex work together with the joint aims of improving performance and responding to the changing pattern of demand, whilst reducing costs and removing overlaps between the services.

• Health and Social Care Integration, which is developing our approach to delivering integrated primary and community health and social care with the support of families, friends and communities. An important element of this work is planning for the implementation of the Better Care Fund in 2015-16.

• Better Use of Public Sector Assets, which is looking at rationalising the public estate in Surrey to reduce its overall size and cost and improve the efficiency of use.

• Skills for the Future, which is working to improve the lives of 14 to 25-year-olds in Surrey, by ensuring that every young person educated in Surrey has the employability skills needed for the future.

• Transforming Justice, which will focus on developing more integrated working to reduce offending and reoffending, reducing costs to the police and criminal justice system.

The programme is ambitious, but partners across Surrey and Sussex are committed to working together to make a difference to people’s lives.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Roger Berry   19/08/2014 at 10:20

This is interesting as much of the work appears to be what I used to call prevention; when I was a social worker, this was the task of our specialist family teams who have been scrapped and replaced with social care staff who only deal with statutory work.It's amazing what goes around comes around!!

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