'Trailblazer' for family hubs

Published: 14 February 2023

The Island was one of the first places in the country to introduce the family hub network back in 2015. The local team, which includes colleagues from Public Health and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, has worked closely with colleagues in Whitehall to inform and advise on the new national rollout.

Councillor Debbie Andre, welcomed the extra funding and congratulated the local team on their success.

She said: “Our local team has already trailblazed this initiative. It’s a model we’ve been operating on the Island successfully for many years and one that has now influenced national policy. The initiative focuses on cross-sector working and utilisation of community resources to support local families.

“This trailblazer funding will be used to expand the range of services working together to incorporate more localised face-to-face and virtual support for children and families.”

The council is one of 14 local authorities included in the Department for Education’s Trailblazers Scheme for Family Hubs and Start of Life Programmes.

The Island will continue to act as a national leader for the rollout of the government scheme, focusing on perinatal mental health, parent-infant relationships, infant feeding and parent support.

The Island will have access to a range of support, including working with other Trailblazer authorities to solve shared problems, sharing best practice and support through regional and national forums and establishing relationships with the people responsible for maternity and early years services in government.

Helen Figgins, Barnardo's assistant director of children's services, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, said: “I’m really proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with the council and with local families to develop our approach.

"This additional funding will really help us to build on the strengths we’ve developed together and help more families with parenting support.”

The Isle of Wight’s family hub network has expanded to provide a greater range of services, through close working with the community, and voluntary and social enterprise sectors.

Families can access many different kinds of support through the network, including health visitors, targeted groups for dads, peer support for new parents and play sessions led by volunteers.

Families can access services in person and online, so they are able to get support in a way that suits their needs.