22 November 2023
The journey to improve children’s social care and the outcomes for our children across Northamptonshire continues to make encouraging progress, with more positive feedback from Ofsted inspectors during their latest visit.
Last month Ofsted carried out a focused visit to the ‘Front door’ services within countywide children’s services – this is where all safeguarding referrals are received and reviewed to consider the level of need and urgency, ensuring children and families get the support that they need.
In the first focused visit since the full Ofsted inspection in autumn last year inspectors have continued to see ongoing improvement, reflecting the closer working between Northamptonshire Children’s Trust and North and West Northamptonshire Councils as they prioritise improving outcomes for children.
In a findings letter published on Ofsted’s website today (Wednesday, 22 November) inspectors said, ‘the positive culture alongside a successful workforce strategy, has resulted in the front door workforce being more stable than it has been in years.’
Inspectors added that staff having a manageable workload meant that ‘social workers in the Duty and Assessment Teams can build positive relationships with children’ and ‘many skilfully do this’. They also said: ‘Collaborative, strengths-based social work practice is having a positive impact for many families.’
Leadership was also highlighted as a strength, with Ofsted saying senior leaders have ‘maintained a firm focus on improvement through external reviews, quality assurance processes and a realistic improvement plan.’
They added: ‘Leaders know their front door service well. They understand the service’s strengths, in particular, an increasingly stable workforce and improvements in the quality of social work interventions and assessments.’
Since the inception of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust three years ago, a positive change in culture has been noted throughout Ofsted inspections. In this latest visit, inspectors found ‘social workers across front door services are very positive about working for NCT’, describing a supportive, strengths-based culture’. They added that ‘staff are motivated, and, like their leaders, they are committed to improving the lives of children in Northamptonshire.’
Ofsted inspectors also noted there were still improvements to be made but that leaders were acutely aware of addressing these issues, such as improving consistency across the partnership in decision making, further work around continuing to improve initial responses to children at risk of exploitation and who go missing, further development of early help provision and improving current IT systems. Actions to address these areas are already under way.
We are very pleased that Ofsted continue to see the improvements that we are making with our partners.Julian Wooster, Chair of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust
Critical to the journey are our valuable workforce and alongside a strong stable leadership team, they are committed to improving the lives of children in Northamptonshire.
We welcome the commitment and support that we receive from North and West Northamptonshire Councils and collaboratively we can achieve the best possible outcomes for children, young people and families in the county.
The councils and Trust are committed to working closely together on the positive journey of improvement whilst tackling significant challenges, also facing children’s services nationally.
Among the national factors contributing to the challenges in Northants is the increase in the number of children and young people in care, high inflation driving up placement costs and a shortage of suitable placements due to a rise in the number of children with complex needs.
The Councils and NCT are working together to find solutions whilst also continuing to improve the service in line with Ofsted recommendations.
One example of this is the procurement and implementation of a new case management for the fostering service which was an Ofsted recommendation- this makes it easier to view the progress and outcomes for children supported by the service. The councils are supporting the Trust to further improve current IT systems as recommended in this latest inspection and the process for buying for this is already underway.
Another key initiative - the Circle 2 Success project (Valuing care) – is beginning to reap benefits for children and young people in care. It involves working closely with social workers and practitioners, spending time assessing and identifying children who with support could step down from a high-cost residential placement to a foster placement or return home. This work prioritises improving outcomes by considering the individual needs of every child and young person and ensuring they are safe and supported whilst also supporting our financial position by ensuring placements represent good value.
We are committed to improving the lives of children in North Northamptonshire and therefore committed to supporting Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT) to continue their positive journey of improvement.Cllr Scott Edwards, Executive member for Children, Families, Education and Skills
Improving the life chances of our children and young people and ensuring they receive the best support and opportunities to help them thrive is a top priority for both us and our Children’s Trust.Cllr Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at West Northants Council
Our collaborative progress on this journey has been significant and we continue to move upwards in a positive direction. The implementation of the new case management system and recent focused visit to the Front Door is a great example of this, highlighting some strong areas of practice, helping us to achieve a safe and effective Front Door.
Despite our challenges, there is lots of good work underway. There is no quick fix, but the work happening is innovative and with our strong workforce, can make a difference.
Read the reports:
Want the latest Council news delivered straight to your inbox?
20 November 2023
As the winter season approaches, it brings with it not only chilly temperatures but also the feeling of being run down or even unwell for many. This time of year can be busy and full of distractions that make it easy to put looking after yourself on the back burner, however staying well during the winter is essential to enjoy the season to the fullest.
Despite daily distractions, there are some simple steps we can all take to help keep ourselves and those around us stay winter well. To help with this, together with public health colleagues we have pulled together lots of tips and information together into one place to give you lots of ideas you can do over the next few months.
You can find all the information you need on our winter well page from eating well, stay active to opportunities to meet new people, start a new hobby or access financial support if you are struggling. We really hope that you share these with colleagues, friends and relatives to help encourage those around you to stay winter well both physically, mentally and financially.
In this article, we'll explore some ways you can stay healthy, happy, and active throughout the colder months.
The rising cost of living is challenging for us all, however help is available to vulnerable and low-income households through the Government’s Household Support Fund, and our Council is working with a range of partners to distribute this money to those who need it most.
The package of support on offer this winter allows people earning £400 a week or less to apply for a £300 payment, and more information can be found on our Cost of Living Support page.
Social relationships are an important part of supporting our wellbeing, so spending time each day to develop and nurture relationships can be very beneficial. Our Council works with partners to offer a number of Welcoming Spaces across West Northamptonshire, providing the perfect opportunity to meet new people or catch up with friends over a hot drink and a biscuit. Find your nearest on our Cost of Living Support page.
Keep bugs at bay
If you are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine and flu jab, it’s vital you come forward to top up your protection. The vaccines can be administered together in one appointment at dozens of pharmacies and GP practices across Northamptonshire, and can be booked online on the NHS website or by calling 119.
Look after your mental wellbeing
Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is just as important as looking after your physical health. There are several steps we can take that are proven to support our mental health and wellbeing and help us to keep mentally well. The Action for Happiness charity has set out 10 Keys that tend to make life happier and more fulfilling. View them and find out more on the Action for Happiness website.
Enjoy some exercise
As little as 30 minutes of movement each day can do wonders for your mind and body. Leisure Centres across West Northamptonshire offer a range of exercise classes and other opportunities to keep fit and active, but our many parks and open spaces also offer opportunities to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature. Find out more on our Sport and Leisure page.
Look out for others
The winter period can be difficult for a great many people, and helping those who are vulnerable or in need can be a rewarding way to spend your time. It could be a simple call or check-in with a vulnerable neighbour or relative, but there are also winter campaigns to get involved in. WNC’s annual Comfort and Joy campaign seeks donations for vulnerable families staying in refuges as a result of domestic abuse at Christmas. Our library service also works with the Northampton Hope Centre on the Fill the Box campaign to provide food donations. Look out for donation boxes at your local library.
Wash your hands and catch your sneezes
It may sound simple, but washing your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water can help prevent you from getting sick and spreading bugs further. Got the sneezes? Be sure to catch them in a tissue, bin it and kill the germs.
Keep warm for less Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, and it is important to keep warm. Try to maintain a room temperature of 18°C, ensure windows are closed during cold nights, have your heating system checked to make sure it is safe to use, and wear lots of layers of thin clothes to help stay warm. Tips for improving the energy efficiency of your home can be found on the Government website.
Get help with money worries
Money worries can have a significant impact on your wellbeing, but there is help available. The Community Law Service has a team of specialist debt advice caseworkers who can provide a full range of debt counselling, including liaising with creditors and advising on insolvency. The service is free, independent and confidential. They offer drop-in services our One Stop Shop at The Guildhall, as well as at The Forum in Towcester, or you can call 01604 621038 or visit the Community Law Service website.
Food larders offer a great way to buy groceries at heavily discounted rates for a small annual membership cost. A list of providers can be found on the Good Food West Northants website.
Want the latest Council news delivered straight to your inbox?
20 November 2023
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has launched a new £950k grants scheme to create new and support existing community transport initiatives in West Northants, as well as support the expansion of current grant funded transport projects and services.
This grant funding will be available over the financial years 2024/25 and 2025/26 for eligible community transport projects from 1 April 2024, following £547,181 funding from Central Government via the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) and £60,337 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), in addition to £342,000 of Council funding.
The grant funding will be allocated to community transport projects and services that meet identified needs and assist the Council in achieving one or more of its corporate priorities, including improving accessibility to employment, healthcare, leisure and education services; addressing unmet needs where there are gaps in the commercial bus network provision; and connecting rural communities to the locations they need to access.
The types of community transport projects or services that will be considered for the grant funding will also play a crucial role in enhancing the wellbeing of individuals and communities by addressing the various transport-related challenges they face including:
- Increasing accessibility and inclusion by providing access to transportation for individuals who may have limited mobility, disabilities, or live in areas with inadequate public transport options
- Reducing social isolation by enabling independent living especially among young people, older adults, and individuals with disabilities who may otherwise be confined to their homes due to a lack of suitable transport options
- Providing access to healthcare by providing reliable community transport that is critical for individuals to access healthcare services
- Enabling safer transport by prioritising safety and the training of drivers, community transport providers will understand their users’ needs to make transportation a safer option, especially for vulnerable individuals
- Supporting economic opportunities by helping people access employment opportunities, education and training and contributing to economic development, economic empowerment, and self-sufficiency
- Assisting in the maintenance of sustainable communities by connecting rural communities to the services they need and providing dependable travel resulting in well-connected places
- Providing environmental benefits by using more sustainable and eco-friendly vehicles or limiting car mileage, contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a cleaner environment helping us to reach net-zero by 2045
- Relieving traffic congestion by providing alternative transportation to reduce the number of individual vehicles on the road, thus alleviating traffic congestion in urban and suburban areas
- Providing a cost-efficient alternative to existing transport services, particularly for users who might find traditional private transportation unaffordable
- Building communities by promoting a sense of community, bringing people together and facilitating social interaction.
Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Organisations that operate within the geographical area of West Northamptonshire and the Town and Parish Councils within the area are invited to submit an expression of interest form for this Community Funding Grant.
We are delighted to be inviting providers to bid for this funding to support our communities and help improve transport provision across West Northants.Cllr David Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, and Regulatory Services
This funding will help to alleviate transport challenges for some of our most vulnerable residents as well as those who live in rural communities.
We are looking for providers who share our ambition for accessibility and inclusivity and are particularly interested in providers that can deliver sustainable and environmentally impactful approaches to community transport.
It is an important factor in people’s wellbeing that they have options for safe, comfortable and affordable travel to meet their everyday needs, and we are committed to supporting this where we can for all our residents.Cllr Phil Larratt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste
Transport providers have a big role to play in providing people with an alternative option to the car, and to encourage people to travel more sustainably we will aim to support the provision of reliable, efficient and affordable alternatives which meet the needs of our communities and that are accessible to everyone.
We’re keen to work with community transport providers who understand their communities’ transport needs and who share our commitment to making a sustainable West Northamptonshire a reality. Those who are successful at bidding for funding will receive a one-off grant to introduce or enhance local transport schemes in their communities.
We are grateful for the UK Government’s support in enabling us to deliver this REPF and UKSPF funding to local community groups and help improve the lives of residents across West Northamptonshire.Cllr Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth
As a Council, we’ve worked hard to carefully plan how to use this funding to realise our growth aspirations for our area and ensure it has a beneficial impact on the whole community.
We have a comprehensive range of projects, initiatives and activities taking place between now and March 2025 which aim to deliver impactful interventions and continue to raise the profile of West Northants as an area where everyone can thrive.
Further information and the full criteria for applications can be found on the WNC website and in the Council’s Community Funding Grants Framework. If you would like to speak to the Community Funding Grants Team about your project or your eligibility to apply for this grant, email: [email protected] including your contact telephone number, as a telephone conversation can sometimes clarify a question more efficiently.
More information on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) can be found on the Gov website.
Want the latest Council news delivered straight to your inbox?
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Home Safety and Safeguarding Team has won the top Team Award at the National Fire Chiefs Council Prevention and Protection Awards ceremony this week, recognising the extensive and complex programme of work carried out to protect the most vulnerable people of Northamptonshire.
The Team Award, which was collected by Prevention Team Leader, Tina Collett, was awarded in recognition of the programme of Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV), including enhanced visits to residents with the most complex needs and risks, and their collaborative working with carers and other social care organisations to deliver the best possible outcomes for those people who require the most support or care.
The Team has also delivered multi-agency training to frontline staff from safeguarding organisations and integrated healthcare providers. They have been raising awareness of the direct links between neglect or self-neglect and fire safety in the home and have helped those people with caring responsibilities to recognise and reduce the risk of fire in their clients’ homes.
Business Manager for the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board (NSAB), one of the partner agencies the Prevention Team works with, said: “NFRS is a valued partner with Tina and her team being highly valued colleagues supporting NSAB to deliver against their strategic plan.
“They have delivered several virtual learning events for NSAB, promoting our joint tools such as the Hoarding Framework and generating good multi-agency discussions to support learning and professional development. The Home Safety and Safeguarding Team are a pleasure to work with, they are enthusiastic, supportive and always work with integrity and compassion.”
Lisa Bryan, Prevention, Safeguarding and Partnership Manager at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “This team are truly focused on positive outcomes. They are productive, impactful and contribute to improvements within the Service and beyond.
“The number of outgoing Home Fire Safety Visit referrals has doubled in the last three years but the person-centred approach taken by the Prevention Team has enabled many vulnerable people across the county to remain living safely and independently in their own homes.
“Their vital work in our communities around safeguarding and reducing risk was also recognised by the HMICFRS in the July 2022 inspection and is again testament to how effective their interventions and prevention work is across Northamptonshire. I am extremely proud to have them within my wider Prevention Department.”
The NFCC Prevention and Protection Awards 2023 were established to celebrate the exceptional work and achievements of Prevention and Protection teams across the fire and rescue sector.
17 November 2023
Residents and businesses are invited to join the West Northamptonshire Community Safety Partnership (CSP) in taking a stand against gender-based violence and abuse during 16 Days of Activism which runs from 25 November to 10 December.
The partnership will be holding a diverse programme of virtual and face-to-face activities to raise awareness of one of the world’s biggest campaigns around preventing violence against women and girls and promoting the local support services available to women and girls who have experienced physical or sexual violence or domestic abuse.
The campaign will start with a Reclaim the Night march organised by Northamptonshire Rape Crisis on Saturday, 25 November at 6.45pm. The march will start from Wellingborough Road in Northampton, meeting in the Co-op car park on Barry Road at 6.30pm and continuing to All Saints Church, where a candlelit vigil will take place from approximately 7.10pm.
During the 16 days, the Community Safety Partnership will be distributing leaflets, posters and information to venues, workplaces and retailers across West Northamptonshire. Businesses will also be asked to place stickers in their windows, in support of the campaign.
In addition, the partnership will be holding several pop-up support stands, where agencies such as Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service, Eve, Voice, Serenity and Northamptonshire Rape Crisis will be on hand to provide advice and guidance.
- Kingsthorpe Children’s Centre
- Thorplands Children’s Centre
- Blackthorn Children’s Centre
- Brixworth Library
- Towcester Library
- Daventry Library
- The Grosvenor Centre
- Northampton University
We must let women and girls know that they are not alone and make it clear to perpetrators that gender-based violence and abuse will not be accepted. Together we can add our voices to the clarion call for violence against women and girls to end and make the world a safer place for all.Cllr David Smith, WNC's Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, and Regulatory Services
Domestic abuse can be terrifying and unfortunately, it is the reality for far too many women and girls.
The Sixteen Days of Activism is one small way in which, we, as West Northamptonshire Council and our partners can empower victims to start the journey towards becoming a survivor.
We hope that, by highlighting this campaign it will encourage people to come forward and open up about these issues and raise awareness about the various support and services available in West Northants.
Tackling violence against women and girls is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police. No-one should have the fear of abuse or violence hanging over them. There is absolutely no excuse for violent, abusive, or controlling behaviour and we will pursue the perpetrators.Detective Inspector Nina Agg from the Northamptonshire Police Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit
I hope the 16 days campaign will encourage victims to not suffer in silence and to come forward and report incidents. We will believe you and do all we can to help.
Information, advice and guidance will be shared during the 16 days via West Northamptonshire Council‘s (WNC) social media pages. Further advice and support can be found on the West Northamptonshire Council website
Want the latest Council news delivered straight to your inbox?