Doing things differently is very much the way forward for the council, and it’s part of the fundamental shift in the way we are shaping our services.
Whilst there might be some things affecting everybody which are stopped or reduced – for example glass collections or the cutting of grass verges – there will be a greater focus on huge, life-changing interventions for the people who need them most.
A few months ago, our budget consultation about future services showed strong support for helping those people with the greatest need. And that supports the council’s main priorities, which are:
- Keeping vulnerable people safe and helping them to stay in control of their lives
- Focusing on the things that only the council can do
- Supporting communities to do more for themselves and each other
It’s also vital that we intervene early, give people the support they need and try to make sure their situation doesn’t become any worse.
Providing this early help can prevent people from needing more acute services in the future, so we save money and save resources for our hard-pressed health service at the same time as supporting vulnerable members of our community.
For a long time, we have been considering ways to improve our support for children, young people and families whilst also managing a growing demand for these services. An engagement process is running at the moment, asking for your views on the way we might work with partners and communities to support people with low level health and social care needs, ensuring they stay well and get the right help.
The fact we are changing these services is not simply down to money. Maybe the process has been accelerated by the fact we are under such huge financial pressures, but this is an area we would have looked at regardless of finance. We need to do things differently, using early help, working with other organisations and better co-ordinating services for children, young people and families.
The engagement is a chance for everyone to have their say. We want feedback from a wide cross-section of the community, including families, so please take part by visiting the website by August 7th.
At this point we are asking for your views on some of the general principles and approaches, but these will be used to develop more specific proposals. A consultation will then follow, enabling us to change services in a way which best reflects local needs.
I’m also a strong advocate of the council facilitating or promoting support groups for people of all ages. You only need to see the phenomenal success of Facebook and other social media to understand how virtual communities can link people together.
When there are networks which keep people connected with those they know and who can help them in some way, they can still receive vital support without the need for formal care services. In some cases we may need to break down barriers for people who are reluctant to go online, but social networks are another way that the council is keen to take new approaches which achieve real, long-term benefits for the people of Kirklees.