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Transforming early help in Wirral, the start of the Family Toolbox story…

In early 2019, the Capacity team sat down with Wirral Council’s Early Help leads to kick-off a new project to truly shift how the borough approached support for local families. As we started work, an interim programme of support was in place – delivered by a brilliant network of third sector organisations, doing amazing new things. From the outset we wanted to support them to be the best providers they could be, asking them to help steer our project as we tested out new approaches.

This initial project, called ‘Community Matters’, was a strand of Early Help and had been setup earlier that year, at its core was a key insight – a knock on the door from a Social Worker is not what many parents want or need when family life is becoming difficult. Initially the team at Wirral asked us to complete a piece of work alongside families, communities and their own colleagues. Together, we wanted to start by understanding the real needs of local people and to put this at the heart of a complete redesign of their approach. This was driven by a desire to refocus the work of the Children’s Services department and place more weight on supporting families as early as possible. Led by Assistant Director for Early Help, Elizabeth Hartley, the vision was to focus not on doing things ‘to’ families but on moving the power into their hands.

We didn’t just want an improved version of what we had – that’s why we didn’t involve professionals in the first year because that’s what we’d have ended up with - everyone’s wedded to ‘they’re good at what they do or they’re not’ and that’s the problem. Getting people to realise when parents have a bad experience - we all own that.”
Elizabeth Hartley
Assistant Director for Early Help

So this brings the story of why Community Matters and our TRANSFORMING EARLY HELP IN WIRRAL, the start of the Family Toolbox story… read the journey so far below.