Wakefield Families Together – Collaboration and integration

Published: 23/11/2021

Author: Anne-Marie Spencer

We are now two years into the Wakefield Families Together journey, a programme that aims to transform services through collaboration and integration.

When we started discussions with partners on our embryonic vision it allowed us to press the reset button. Those early partnership conversations helped us to build a shared understanding of how we wanted to transform Wakefield’s Children’s Services under the banner of Wakefield Families Together. Fast forward to today and we are seeing service and partner organisations come together who have restructured and aligned front-line teams to six geographical cluster areas as we create new localised integrated teams who are far more responsive to local demand and need.

In our previous blog we outlined an exciting new post of Service Director for Health & Wellbeing which is funded by Children’s Services, the Clinical Commissioning Group, our Mental Health Alliance and Public Health.

This new role is already making a difference and leading a team of senior staff from a range of early help, health and emotional wellbeing services to maximise the potential that comes from working as ‘one team’, regardless of who pays your wages or whether you are a commissioner or a provider.

This approach may not be new, but what we feel is unique is how we have taken this opportunity to create a whole system change. Working in collaboration with an extensive range of internal and external partners we are starting to see a ripple effect where other partners can see the benefits of joining up which goes beyond identifying and aligning staff to each of our new cluster areas but to start to own each other’s outcomes, work together to simplify the system and create a service ‘without walls’ delivery model.

Our Police colleagues have taken this a step further with the alignment of our Neighbourhood Policing teams and Early Action hubs as we work together to embed a whole system place-based approach.

Wakefield Families Together focuses on joint problem solving, as we move to a Family Hub all aged delivery model and a 16-25 Youth Hub skills, employment and emotional health and well-being model how we join up provision across the voluntary and community sector, local authority services and wider partners will be key. 

To enable our partnership collaboration reach the next level, we are now creating six localised Partnership Networks to build a cohesive and comprehensive early help, intervention and preventative offer. Funding will be devolved through the use of our Third Sector Framework to help remove duplication and overlap in the system and to ensure that the services offered are informed by data and targeted to meet local priorities and demand along with building in opportunities to address gaps in provision. 

Building our local intelligence of each other’s work, delivery offer, referral criteria and pathways is supporting both staff and families access the right help at the right time. Our vision as a collaboration will help us equip our staff with the tools and resource needed to support them in their work with children, young people and families.

Building resilience into the system will provide greater efficiencies in both use of staff time and our collective resource to support how we do our work as we move away from a stop, start referral approach where families often get ‘stuck’ in between services. 

The progress of our vision during a period where a pandemic put immense pressure on services is testimony to what can be achieved when the collective will, and commitment starts to trump organisational boundaries. 

Anne-Marie Spencer

Anne-Marie Spencer is Service Manager, Strategy & Transformation at Wakefield Council