The long-awaited report from the House of Lords Public Services Committee on addressing child vulnerability has now been published. In the report, Our Time’s work in partnership with Westminster City Council is held up as an example of best practice for local authorities using Family Hubs to support hard-to-reach families. We made a significant written submission to the inquiry, and are delighted to see this endorsement of our approach, as well as other comments and recommendations which align with our strategy.
‘The Family Hub model can be effective in breaking down traditional barriers between the statutory and voluntary sectors, which has enabled Hubs to engage with hard-to-reach parents. Our Time explained that it was able to “form very strong relations” with Westminster City Council through its local Family Hub, where the charity had trained two teams to help parents with mental ill-health.’
The inquiry was a wide-ranging one, and called in many high-profile witnesses and experts, from ministers and academics, home and abroad, to those with lived experience. Consequently, it attracted a lot of attention, and its recommendations were awaited with interest by many, particularly the children’s social care sector. The resulting report was released on 19 November 2021.
As well as a strong recommendation for increased funding for a wider roll out of well-resourced Family Hubs, the report also called for statutory provision for children of parents with a mental illness; something we at Our Time have long campaigned for.
‘The government should introduce a statutory duty on local authorities, the NHS and police to collaborate to improve long-term outcomes for children in their areas and to ensure that early help is provided to children living in families with serious parental addiction or domestic violence concerns, parental mental ill-health, those who are at high risk of criminal exploitation and young carers.’
Finally, it was extremely encouraging to read the explicit recognition in the report of the effectiveness of small charities in working with vulnerable groups, noting they are often more successful in reaching them than statutory services. It calls for more prominence to be given to the knowledge and expertise of such organisations, plus funding to provide evaluation and wider roll-out of effective models.
We are optimistic that we can build on the outcome of this report to continue to make our case for a greater role for small charities such as ours, in particular within the Family Hubs model. Read the report online