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Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

From No Wrong Door to New Roads in Norfolk

Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

Norfolk County Council began implementing No Wrong Door in October 2020 and went live on 1 June 2021. Called New Roads, No Wrong Door in Norfolk is transforming the way support services work with families, strengthening young people’s networks and reconnecting them with their families. By building stronger family connections in a safe environment, New Roads aims to dramatically reduce the number of children in Norfolk going into care.

Three members of the No Wrong Door team reflect on the journey to establish New Roads and how it has affected their practice and how they feel about their work.

Michelle Mackney – Norfolk County Council Service Manager for Children’s Residential and Semi Independent Accommodation

“I first heard about No Wrong Door back in 2017. We really liked the concept and at the time we were keen to explore this further to see if we could adopt something like this in Norfolk. Good things were coming out of North Yorkshire and other counties were being made aware of this. We really liked the model. Therefore, once we became aware of the opportunity to bid for monies to adopt and adapt No Wrong Door through the Strengthening Families Protecting Children programme we jumped at the chance.

I remember, during the discovery phase, in December 2019, going up to North Yorkshire and visiting their hubs and meeting some of their team. My first impression was how welcoming everyone was, Harrogate was a really nice place to stay as well. The staff team at the time, Janice and Sarah were really welcoming and made us feel at home. We spent time with them and went to visit one of the hubs, and we also visited one of the supported living flats. We were well fed and looked after on our visit and they provided good plans for the time we were there. This enabled us to meet one of the Speech and Language Therapists, a Portfolio Lead, the Team Managers, one of the Police Liaison Officers, and the hub staff team. The director for North Yorkshire County Council Children’s Services also came to spend time with us and was very proud of all they had achieved. We were all wowed by how the young people were being supported in the hubs.

What struck me at the time was the pragmatic approach from everyone in the hub to just do what was the right thing for the young person. Having the resources and support to provide the right care plan at the right time for the children, with a team around the child all under one roof would mean we would not have to wait or be refused services. The model reaffirmed much of what we knew about accommodating children and it was often not the right plan for the child. This model not only reinforced what we believed, but provided a solution which the No Wrong Door model was enabling to be successfully implemented.

Our relationship with North Yorkshire has remained strong from that day. Their support and guidance in helping us with our expression of interest and fully costed proposal enabled us to demonstrate a strong business case for adopting No Wrong Door. It has also proven invaluable having colleagues from North Yorkshire by our side during Practitioner and Partner engagement. Messages resonated much stronger when they were supported by hearing what has been achieved in North Yorkshire.

There are obvious benefits from adopting a proven model, including having a blueprint for how to implement the service. North Yorkshire have been by our side through every step of our implementation plan, including taking the lead on some aspects like the recruitment of the Hub Managers. This was a key milestone for us and bringing the Managers in early allowed them to take a leading role in the service design and set up activity.

I am really excited about the model going live in Norfolk and getting it right for our children.”

Mary Costello – New Roads, Norwich Hub Manager

“Many years ago, when I was studying at University, I read about an initiative in Russia where they had set up a charity working with homeless children. In essence they used a hub model to help young people move off the streets and into children’s homes, then into families.The carers worked in the homes and then provided the longer-term foster families for the young people they had worked with. It had been quite a success and the idea of that transient worker offering consistency and stability for the young person had always stayed with me.

The No Wrong Door model of practice makes me think of this, though No Wrong Door is much more complex in its theoretical and practical model of delivery. I was excited when I first heard that Norfolk would be adopting the model and I knew instantly that I hoped to be a part of it. I was then really excited when I was appointed as the Norwich Hub Manager. No Wrong Door makes a real commitment to young people, offering that stickability of worker and never giving up on their young people. Really considering, would this be good enough for my child? evokes a different way of thinking that makes this model special.

Having worked in children’s homes for over 15 years, I know despite some excellent work and dedicated staff, our young people do not always do as well as their counterparts. Outcomes for young people who have lived for long periods in children’s homes are particularly adversely affected. The No Wrong Door model recognises this and at its foundation tries to provide all of our young people with family-based care whatever that might look like, putting the support structures around this to make it safe and to increase the positive outcomes for young people. It recognises that residential care should be a short-term intervention and that we can do more for our young people than we have done in the past.

I really like the trauma informed lens No Wrong Door uses and how it encourages us to look much deeper than the behaviour we see to the need that is behind is. I think using theory to practice like this really empowers the team and creates a more resilient work force.

Having a range of multi-agency professionals within one team is also really important and gives us a wealth of knowledge and experience to immediately draw upon for our young people and families, creating holistic strength based plans and being able to enact these at the pace that is needed.

North Yorkshire have been inspirational in the training they have given us and how they have role modelled their culture and ethos. They have been passionate about why this model is so important. They have shown how it can improve outcomes for young people and their families and break the generational cycles of young people not receiving good enough care. I really do feel part of the No Wrong Door family and I know that if I need any support of guidance, I can just pick up the phone or send an email and it is there.

Being able to see how this model has worked in practice and how it has positively affected the lives of young people and families creates a real sense of hope and positivity that I am able to bring to my team. The use of real-life case studies is integral in helping people see the model in action and also illustrating how we bring theory to practice. As there are several local authorities taking part in implementing the model, the community of practice is a also a great arena to share challenges and successes and to learn from each other.

Being part of No Wrong Door feels special and like the beginning a of a new adventure. There is a real opportunity to change culture and practice in Norfolk and affect some really positive change for our young people and families.”

Michaela Elsmere – New Roads Portfolio Lead, Dereham Hub

“I heard about No Wrong Door when working in my residential setting from my manager at the time. When I first heard about No Wrong Door I wasn’t sure if it was for me as I didn’t know too much about the model and was a bit confused as to how it would all work. However, after researching No Wrong Door in North Yorkshire, I felt this is exactly what our children need. Access to services all under one roof, no appointment needed, with a supportive staff team around each young person, helping them to either stay at home or moving onto places of permanence.

The ethos and culture of No Wrong Door through the provocations makes you think about decisions and care plans for the child. ‘Is this good enough for my child?’, and “are we managing organisational risk or risk for the child?’ has really got me changing the way I think and practice.

Many young people will have experienced multiple broken relationships, so having a consistent person supporting and sticking with them until they are 25 will help them feel valued and allow me to show that I really care. I also like working alongside foster carers, supporting children in finding the right carer for them, so that they don’t have any further placement breakdowns in their lives.

I am really excited to be working with children and families out in the community, helping to stop children being accommodated into care and keeping them with their families. By working alongside children, managing their risks with them, not making decisions for them, we will ensure that actions are taken in their best interests, in a way that works best for them, not just what makes us feel safer.

Since being appointed into New Roads my Manager, who now works for North Yorkshire, has shared with us training completed with North Yorkshire, which has been hugely beneficial in understanding how to embed the ethos and culture into our team, and helped me rethink my practice.

I feel the approach is different as we are thinking differently. It’s less policy and procedure led and more about relationship-based practice, enabling us to build relationships with children and families, completing positive work in their homes. All of the New Roads team have the passion and drive to go that extra mile. We know we are going to do some amazing work with children and their families.

I have recently taken part in the ACES training that was provide by Tammy Tywang from North Yorkshire. I felt the training was very informative, delivered well, and had a great response from the whole team. It was extremely useful to look at the way trauma affects a child and how we can work with them to help break the cycle. I loved the statement about a child not being ‘attention seeking’ but ‘attention needing’, that really made me think.

I have been transitioning from my last place of work, which was a therapeutic residential home to New Roads. I was really excited when we went live on the 1st June 2021 and was over the moon that I was one of the first staff members to be at the hub on the first day.

I have now started doing outreach work with different families. On my first visit I was worried about going into someone’s home as outreach isn’t something I’ve had that much experience with. However, I knew I had a good team around me, and we are all there to support each other, and this is helping to build my confidence the more visits I complete.

It made me feel really positive and proud to be able to work with a family that would have had their child removed and taken into care without our intervention. I could see the positive impact this had on the whole family and how this outcome is so much better for the child than if they had gone to live in a children’s home.”