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New joint team improving children’s safeguarding

Published Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

Launch of the MASH+ team

A new team designed to further enhance local safeguarding for children has been officially launched.

The Southend Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH+) has brought together children’s social care, early help and family support services, police and health staff under one roof. It allows immediate responses to safeguarding referrals, improved and quicker decision making and better access to information – something which is crucial when needing to quickly assess a children’s safeguarding referral. They also provide swift access to support services for children and families to prevent concerns around child safety and harm from escalating.

MASH+ has evolved from two first contact teams set up by the council in January 2017 – the duty team which receives all contacts and referrals, and the assessment and intervention team which undertakes statutory social work assessments and support children and their families. Family support outside of statutory social care teams is provided via the council’s Early Help and Family Support services who sit within the MASH+ team.

The aspiration to have police and health staff co-located with children’s services to better respond to contacts and referrals became reality with a formal arrangement agreed in October 2017.  The MASH+ team was quickly established and up and running by December 2017. The team are closely linked to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Team (MARAT) who manage high risk domestic abuse referrals.

MASH+ was officially launched at an event where Judge Lynn Roberts, the designated family judge for Essex and Suffolk, celebrated the early successes of the team and urged continued partnership working to further improve outcomes.

Councillor Helen Boyd, cabinet member for children and learning, says: “Our aim for all children in Southend-on-Sea is that they achieve good outcomes and exceed their goals, irrespective of their circumstances, ability or additional needs.

“The MASH+ is a vital part of achieving that aim and I am delighted that this official launch has taken place where we were able to hear about the many successes in its first 6 months. The fact that we have children’s services, police and health staff all working together under one roof is clearly making a major difference in the quality of response that we can collectively provide to local children and families. Better communication and swifter information sharing are having a clear and positive impact on the safeguarding decision making process.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Worron, head of crime and public protection at Essex Police, said: “Three months after going live we completed an initial review of the team and the process and there was overwhelming and consistent feedback to suggest that the establishment of a MASH+ team and model within Southend has had a significant positive impact on safeguarding children, through improved identification of risk and harm, sharing of information, decision making and the timeliness for completion of these tasks.

“Many people commented on how quickly the team became established and the immediate positive impact. We are of course pleased with this feedback and look forward to continuing to work long into the future for the benefit of local children and families in Southend-on-Sea.”

Stephanie Farr, assistant director for children, young people and families at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), said: “Early findings are showing an improvement in the quality of practice at the children’s services front door and many partners have commented how it has reduced demand on other parts of their services. This has been reported by the Police and Health Visitors and School Nurses. And we are very pleased to be part of his new model.”

A number of quotes were captured in the review process, including:

  • ‘It’s just 100% better’,
  • ‘amazing decision making at the front door now’
  • ‘We don’t challenge the decisions now as the rationale is so clear’
  • ‘Lots of children are safer because of MASH’.
  • ‘Put the jigsaw pieces together quicker’.
  • ‘Brilliant start to collaborative working’
  • ‘It’s a great concept’
  • ‘All feedback I’ve had is that it’s positive and is working’.
  • ‘Seamless conversations in terms of working as partners’.
  • ‘Child focussed’.
  • ‘Traffic of complaints has completely changed at the front door’.
  • ‘Better communication and a clear system’

All urgent referrals must be phoned through to the MASH+ directly on 01702 215007 - Option 1 emailing FCT@southend.gov.uk.

All referrals will be viewed within 1 working day and you will then receive an email within 2 working days from MASH+ informing you of their decisions’.