A new report from North Ayrshire’s chief social work officer has highlighted some of the recent positive work undertaken by teams across North Ayrshire.

The report, presented to North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet, highlights the wide range of social work activity carried out over the past year and the ways in which delivery of services are helping both North Ayrshire Council and North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (NAHSCP) to achieve their priorities.

Highlighted is the roll-out of the Signs of Safety model by NAHSCP, with Children and Families staff undertaking bespoke training throughout 2022/23.

This effective model of practice enables child welfare intervention to drive behaviour change for families, with staff building meaningful relationships with parents and children and empowering them to understand the concerns and requirements of child protection authorities – an approach that can reduce the number of children placed under the care of the local authority.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Councillor Margaret JohnsonCouncillor Margaret Johnson (Image: NAC)

The Safe and Together model of practice has also been implemented in North Ayrshire, which aims to keep children with the non-abusing partner where domestic abuse has been identified.

Within this model, domestic abuse is reframed as a ‘parenting choice’, with social work interventions focusing on the offending parent to reduce risk and harm to the child, while simultaneously working with the non-offending parent to identify their strengths and promote the child’s safety, stability, nurturance and healing from trauma.

In addition, MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) has launched across North Ayrshire. The primary focus of MARAC is to safeguard adult victims of domestic abuse, with representatives from statutory and non-statutory agencies meeting to discuss individuals at high risk of serious harm or murder, sharing information about current risk and working together to increase the safety of the victim.

A new ‘Stronger Families’ service has been launched in the past year, which is delivered as a partnership between NAHSCP’s Service Access/Multi Agency Assesment Screening Hub (MAASH), North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership and charity Barnardo’s.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership

The service provides practical and emotional support for children, young people and families affected by substance use in North Ayrshire, reducing the need for statutory intervention and improving family relationships.

This year has also seen the launch of a new welcome pack for unaccompanied young people placed in North Ayrshire children’s houses for whom English is not their first language. The pack includes basic information on what a children’s house is and the support that residential staff can offer the young person, as well as a testimony from a previous resident, helping to alleviate stress when a young person who does not speak English in placed in local authority care.

Some additional highlights of the report include a 37 per cent increase in the number of families supported by the Rosemount Crisis Intervention Team, continued roll-out of the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards to reduce drug and alcohol related harms, a 25 per cent increase in the number of unpaid carers being supported by commissioned carer service Unity, and an enhancement of day service delivery for older people across North Ayrshire.

Chief social work officer Scott Hunter also thanked social work staff for their compassion and commitment to delivering services throughout what has been another challenging year.

Councillor Margaret Johnson, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “While much progress has been made by North Ayrshire Council in its ongoing commitment to eradicating poverty, North Ayrshire is still ranked the fifth most deprived council area in Scotland, with many residents being further impacted by the current cost of living crisis.

“Added to the fact that we have an ageing population in North Ayrshire, demands on all of our health and social care services continue to grow.

“These positive examples of the impact social work services are having in improving the lives of North Ayrshire residents are down to the hard work and commitment of our staff, and we will continue to ensure that we work in a way that puts our residents at the centre of their care.”