We are pleased to have been part of an effective and efficient collaboration recently, led by the Family and Household Support service. Within the North West Locality Operational Group we had become aware of the vast needs of Roma, Romanian families within temporary housing at a local B&B. The level of need was extensive, and the B&B was at capacity. With young children and young parents among the families, it was felt that an increased support package needed to be offered to these families.
A team leader from Family and Household support took a lead on organising a weekly drop-in to be held at the B&B, committing a member of staff to attend alongside a Family Wellbeing Practitioner from Stepping Stones during the month of December. The aim of the drop-in was to promote parenting, health, well-being, basic English tuition, as well as other universal services that help families and individuals.
As many of the Roma families did not speak English, an interpreter was essential. This was organised through the Interpretation and Translation service with additional access to language line if needed. It was identified that it would be useful to collaborate and link in with Streetwork, as a member of staff had already built up a good report and trusting relationship within the Roma community. Once this link had been established, the drop-in was in high demand with 8-10 families attending during the hour and a half. Staff listened to families, assessing their needs. Refreshments were provided, with some individuals attending solely for a hot drink. Working collaboratively, staff spoke with every individual separately using an interpreter. Every week, more and more families presented often desperate and destitute, asking for essentials such as clothing, toiletries, nappies, and formula milk. After each drop-in, staff became proactive in sourcing items requested by families, utilising local contacts and organisations to maximize donations.
Some families did not have recourse to public funds, and it became apparent that children attending the drop-in were not enrolled in school. Instead, children were spending their days in merged age groups often caring for younger siblings. Staff put together art packs and gathered toys for children, however, the need for education became paramount to staff. Considering this concern, an English as an Additional Language Teacher was organised by Family Household Support to provide remote educational assistance to children at the drop-in mid-January.
Fundamental to the success of the drop-in, was pulling in supports from different statutory and voluntary organisations, many making time to attend sessions. Family Group Decision Making offered support and engaged with families who would benefit from their service and the head of health visiting teams engaged with staff, with the aim to respond positively to the needs of the families and health-related issues raised.
Every Friday, the drop-in remains highly attended and continues to proportionately take steps to engage with other services as part of a planned approach. Stepping Stones has recommitted to attending the drop once a month alternating with the North West Social work team. All services and organisations acknowledge that working together has provided an experienced, multidisciplinary approach to supporting the Roma community residing at the B&B. Families continue to benefit from access to services and local organisations they may have not known about, had access too or engaged with before.