The Council helps to keep children and adults safe from harm; provide early intervention for families; and prevent homelessness, while services continue to face significant and sustained pressures.
At 48.3%, the breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks remained stable in 2017/18. The family health and lifestyles service has brought together services such as infant feeding and health visiting, offering drop-in sessions, telephone advice and information to promote breastfeeding.
This is encouraging and follows the investment into early help in the city’s family hubs. However, Coventry is still behind similar authorities and England.
The Council’s family hubs approach brings advice and support services under one roof, enabling families to gain integrated early help and for services to better meet their needs.
This is a recognition that social inequalities are already established from the early years of life, and to transform life chances and thereby increasing everybody’s opportunity to succeed in life requires ensuring every child achieves a good level of development by the age of five.
The city's looked after children rate and repeat referrals increased; however, the percentage of new looked after children who were previously looked after has remained stable.
Expectation Factual, a TV production company, approached the Council to create Superkids. The documentary follows a group of Coventry children as they worked with Lemn Sissay MBE, an award-winning writer and performer, to create poems on their experiences of the care system and perform them at the Belgrade Theatre.
The documentary was broadcasted on Channel 4 in November 2018 and was nominated for the BAFTA Television Awards in the Specialist Factual category.
The Council launched its local offer for care leavers in March. The offer sets out what care leavers can expect from the Council in terms of support for finance, employment training, accommodation, relationships, and health and wellbeing.
Representatives from business, health, police, charity and voluntary sectors attended the launch, and those organisations are also looking at what they can offer our care leavers in the future. Pledges have already been received to further enhance the offer.
Find out more at www.coventry.gov.uk/careleavers/.
Change Grow Live, a Council-commissioned service, launched Positive Choices to address substance misuse/risk-taking behaviours amongst young people.
The Council, West Midlands Police and local partners Catch 22, and Positive Youth Foundation successfully obtained funding from the government’s supporting families against youth crime fund.
The project will offer support to young people and families where there is a concern that a young person is being, or at risk of being, exploited by a gang.
The number of people accessing long term adult social care support has increased but remains within the expected range.
The Council and NHS organisations are working together to help Coventry residents to stay out of hospital and to stay well.
In addition, the transforming care scheme for people with learning disabilities has been supported with additional health-funded social work posts, with a focus on supporting admission avoidance and providing discharge support.
The Council and the NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust have extended their joint funding for the provision of mental health services in the city. Additional funding has been secured through mental health networks to support admissions for children and young people. The Council’s promoting independence approach for people with disabilities (learning disabilities, in particular) has had good outcomes.
The challenge going forward is to ensure these approaches are mainstreamed across all service areas including mental health.
The city faces a growing population and a huge challenge around homelessness. Homelessness and rough sleeping leads to poor outcomes for individuals and is costly for the Council in terms of placements in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. This year, the Council has created an integrated housing team – which, along with the strategic approach outlined in the housing and homelessness strategy 2019-24, brings together housing strategy, housing options (choice-based lettings), and homelessness prevention to ensure that all residents are able to access a suitable, affordable and decent home, with the support they need to sustain their housing.
The Council has reconfigured its approach to supporting families and individuals at risk of homelessness. A front-line duty roster has been introduced to facilitate and triage approaches and enquiries made.
This service routinely receives around 70 approaches per week and the streamlining of the service means there is a quicker turnaround – helping more families and individuals maintain their housing.
This year saw the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act. The number of households assessed as being owed a statutory homelessness duty has fallen by 40% in 2018/19, from 557 in 2017/18 to 388 in 2018/19. 413 homeless cases were prevented/relieved this year.
As of 1 April 2019, 13,658 people were on the Homefinder register. This is a marginal fall from the average of 14,000 people on the register at any point in time. The proportion of households who have been assessed as having a housing need on the council’s Homefinder system now account for around 19% of the total figure, an increase of a third from last year (12.6%).
1,400 properties advertised on Homefinder in 2018/19 with 1,187 (85%) of these being let during the same period.
The Council is working with the West Midlands Combined Authority to deliver the Housing First pilot scheme. Housing First is an approach to support individuals facing severe and multiple disadvantage to begin recovery and move away from rough sleeping.
A departure from the traditional approach of moving individuals facing severe and multiple disadvantaged through transitional housing and support, Housing First secures suitable housing in an appropriate area for the individual and acts as a base for other wraparound support. The Coventry scheme will include a navigator (floating support) service for a total of up to 109 rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping.
Coventry has adopted the MEAM approach to tackling homelessness, where organisations are coordinated to provide more effective services for people facing multiple disadvantages. It also encourages people with lived experiences to help shape services.
Partnership working is at the heart of the MEAM approach – the Council joined hands with The Arc (Ayriss Recovery Coventry CIC, a community interest company of local experts by experience), the Salvation Army, Langar Aid, Crisis, and the Police to create ‘Steps for Change’.
‘Steps for Change’ is a drop-in shop in the city centre, which provides a safe and welcoming environment for vulnerable people to seek support. Following a successful one-year pilot, which saw 25 to 40 rough sleepers visit the Hertford Street shop front on any Thursday, it has recently moved to City Arcade, where it will be open for up to five days a week, with additional opportunities for businesses and volunteers to get involved.