Diss is to be a starting point for a new initiative to bring quick help to families who need support.
The aim is to act before families reach a crisis, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and bring down the number of children in care.
The scheme will work by bringing public and volunteer help agencies together to provide early practical support by looking at a family’s whole needs rather than just tackling the reason they have come to an individual agency’s attention. A child’s poor attendance at school, for example, could be the result of other issues like housing, parenting or employment in the home.
South Norfolk will launch its multi-agency “hub” at the district council offices in the autumn, and Diss has been chosen for the first of the “outreach” hubs that will spread across the district. The Diss hub will be at the Youth and Community Centre in Shelfanger Road.
“Diss has been chosen as our first hub area because it faces higher than average levels of deprivation and unemployment but has a very active community with good resources and we feel it will welcome and embrace this approach,” said James Joyce, the cabinet member for safeguarding at Norfolk County Council.
“Providing early help to families is a crucial part of our strategy to reduce the numbers of children coming into care and to ensure that children and their families receive the support they need at the earliest opportunity,” said Mr Joyce.
It was common sense to look at the needs of the whole family, Mr Joyce said. “If they are finding themselves without a home, are facing domestic violence or substance abuse issues, then we need to help them overcome all of these issues and we can’t do that in isolation.”
Diss county councillor Jenny Chamberlin added: “Our town already has a strong sense of community and families receive good support through our children’s centre and local schools. Despite this, many people are surprised at the higher than average levels of deprivation in the town and the rural isolation that some people living here can face. This creates a range of difficulties for families and some can find themselves working with a range of agencies and professionals, which can sometimes be overwhelming.
“This new model will help to ensure a more joined up approach and give families one point of contact to discuss their needs, which will make things far simpler for families and help them build a strong relationship with the person that is supporting them.
“Diss is the perfect base to start this off as the community will be fully behind the model and keen to get involved, highlight what problems we face in the area and how we may be able to overcome them together.”
Diss Town Council is supporting the initiative.