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No Wrong Door Project

I visited North Yorkshire this week with a small number of colleagues, to find out more about their No Wrong Door project.

We received a warm welcome from Pete Dwyer, Corporate Director for Children and Young People’s Services, and members of his team, who generously spent the whole day explaining aspects of their approach.

No Wrong Door is funded by the children’s social care innovation programme and is part of a wider piece of work aimed at redesigning services at the first point of contact.

The concept behind the redesign is to see things from the view point of children and families and to simplify the approach when asking for help. There is also a strong emphasis on working in partnership with other professionals.

So, the thinking behind the scheme is how we support the most challenging youngsters already in the care system, but also those on the edge of care, who could be supported in different ways – preventing the need for them to be accommodated in the future.

We heard from James Cliffe, the ‘Hub Manager’, about how three residential care homes in North Yorkshire had already worked in family support quite extensively prior to the creation of the new No Wrong Door approach. This provided a foundation for a more innovative approach, which now puts the remaining two residential units at the heart of a matrix support arrangement. This includes specialist fostering, intensive support and accommodation.

The key to all of this is flexibility. This is particularly marked when it comes to the way in which people are not only employed but also deployed. For example, people who are approved as specialist foster carers work on shifts within the residential unit or on intensive outreach work when they do not have young people in placement.

On the ground this means there is the flexibility to build and sustain relationships with the most challenged and difficult youngsters. An example of this was a young man with a very problematic history who, having got to know a carer whilst he was working in the residential unit, then felt able to go and
live with that same person as a foster child. And when the young man is ready and able to move to independence, the same care worker will stay engaged with him throughout.

Of course this all takes a lot of managing! And there has been a big investment in the development and training of all staff concerned.

But one of the most interesting aspects was the creative approach towards using highly skilled and well supported staff. And whilst it is early days, some of the initial case studies certainly demonstrate that it has been possible to stick with young people, in a way that has not been possible in the past.

One of the consistent pieces of feedback we receive from young people, when they reflect back on their time in care, is that it is the people who do not give up on them that make the biggest and most positive difference. This model has that principle at its heart and I am sure it has a great deal to offer all of us.

Many thanks to Pete, Judith, Martin, Janice, Vicky, Julie, James, Neil, David and Rebecca for a very interesting day! It is typical of the generosity of colleagues in Yorkshire and Humber to share their learning and I know that we all benefit tremendously from our regional networks.

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