New services supporting children and families in Melton begin this week.
Leicestershire County Council has come up with a reorganised set-up which focuses on helping the most vulnerable families across the county.
Services in Melton will be delivered from The Edge community centre, on Dalby Road, and Venture House, on Asfordby Road.
Existing children’s centre activities will eventually end at The Cove, on Sysonby Street, and Fairmead, on Drummond Walk, although they will continue in the short term until the current lease runs out, in November next year.
The new Children and Families Wellbeing Service, starting today (Monday), is aimed at supporting children and young people aged up to 19 and their families and, by using 19 fewer buildings across Leicestershire, County Hall will save £1.5million on its pressurised budget.
Four existing services are being combined in the new offering - the Children’s Centre programme, Supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF), Youth Offending Service (YOS) and Information, Support and Assessment teams.
The county council insist the new ‘one-stop shop’ set-up will be better for Melton residents because they will be able to access every service they need at the same location.
The authority say the eventual reduction in buildings being used shouldn’t impact people because many will continue to be visited in their homes by professionals administering the various services and those who have to visit a different centre will be supported in getting there.
Jane Moore, director of children and families at County Hall, told the Melton Times: “Most services will be delivered in people’s homes and that won’t change.
“Venture House has traditionally been used for various youth services and it has been reconfigured inside so it can be used for the new Family Wellbeing Services we have brought in.
“Families will benefit from having services in the same place and this new integrated model will also mean there will be a few extra staff being placed in Melton to deliver the services.
“We are hoping the new way of doing things won’t reduce the number of people who already access these services in Melton.”
Ms Moore confirmed The Cove and Fairmead would eventually not be used for services by the county council, after the lease runs out next November, but the buildings would still be available for community use.
She added: “There will be no shutters going up on these buildings. They are owned by Melton Borough Council and will be used in a different way once our services end there.”
Ivan Ould, county council cabinet member for children and families, said: “This new service will provide targeted support to families in need in a more joined up way; making the most of our staff and resources and bringing down costs by avoiding duplication.
“Although some children’s centres will be closing by March 31, we are busy working with partners and organisations in local areas to ensure we are still delivering services in local communities.
“We understand that children’s centres are valued so where we can, we will make sure that whatever the centres become they will continue to support local children, families or communities in some way.”
When it met last summer, the council’s cabinet earmarked an extra £2million for supporting vulnerable people, meaning six more centres, including Melton’s The Edge, would be able to remain open than originally proposed.
The new-style service was adopted by councillors following a three-month consultation which attracted nearly 800 responses.
Melton Council owns the The Edge, The Cove and Fairmead centres and it continues to run some of its own services in them, alongside their use by County Hall as children’s centres.
The borough council is considering how best to use The Cove and Fairmead buildings for the community after the county council stops using them from November 2020.
A spokesperson for the authority said: “We are using the opportunity presented by the conclusion of the Early Help review to refocus on how the three buildings could be better used in collaboration with local communities going forward.
“The Cove and Fairmead will become 100 per cent community buildings unless any ongoing new agreement can be reached with the county council or the council assesses their use for alternative use – this includes the prospect of being able to base our services from the community centres.
“We have a strong relationship with staff responsible for delivering the new Family Wellbeing Service and productive discussions on a collaborative approach to service delivery for the residents of Melton continue.”