Yorkshire Children's Centre

November 2012

Working smarter with partner organisations

Deborah Kiernan is Families and Wellbeing Programmes Manager at Yorkshire Children’s Centre (YCC),  a charity which provides practical services that aim to improve the lives of children and families in need across the region. She leads the charity’s work on injury prevention and reduction, including its involvement in the Kirklees Accident Prevention Forum.

When YCC set up an injury prevention and reduction project in 2009, one of its main goals was to form a multi-agency group to look at the issue of unintentional injuries. Deborah joined YCC as injury prevention and reduction co-ordinator, taking on responsibility for driving the new project forward and bringing a group of partners together as the Kirklees Accident Prevention Forum.

The approach

Working collaboratively

Deborah says that good communication was central to the project from the very beginning. “Everything we do is underpinned by communication. As well as interacting with our partners on a strategic level, we have to make sure that injury prevention messages and new information get out to frontline staff. Strong relationships and networks are critical.”

The partners recently worked together to complete a major review of information that each organisation collects about accidents. “The exercise was really useful as it showed us where the gaps and overlaps are. It helped us to think about what improvements we could make and how we could share information more effectively.”

Kirklees Accident Prevention Forum contributes to the local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and also submitted a response to the NICE consultation on its guidance on preventing unintentional injuries among under 15s.

Providing mutual support

Sharing information about their injury prevention initiatives enables the partners to provide mutual support to one another. YCC’s Safety Rangers programme, for example, brings together local police, fire and road safety teams, as well as charities that offer first aid training, such as St John Ambulance and the Red Cross.

“Each year we run three Safety Rangers weeks at the local fire station, with around 800-900 year 5 students taking part during the year,” explains Deborah. “It’s a chance for them to learn about topics including road safety, staying safe in the home, fire safety and basic first aid, all in a fun and interactive way. We always listen to feedback from the schools that take part – in our most recent Safety Rangers week we put more of a focus on how to cross the road safely, as teachers told us that many students don’t have a good enough grasp of this.”

Dealing with change in partner organisations

2012 has seen a lot of change taking place in the partner organisations, with several going through major restructuring. “From an injury prevention point of view, this level of reorganisation is potentially very disruptive,” comments Deborah. “There’s a concern that the prevention agenda could get put to one side and that valuable knowledge and understanding will be lost. But we’re working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. We recently explored the challenge of keeping injury prevention on the agenda in a half-day workshop with CAPT – it gave us all a much deeper understanding of how to make the case for accident prevention work.”

YCC works closely with local children’s centres – their strong relationships with families are valuable when it comes to engaging parents and carers in safety issues – but they too are dealing with a great deal of change. “I think it’s more important than ever that we keep the communication and regular contact going with frontline practitioners in children’s centres and other settings. We can also think more about how we can support them and add value to the work they’re doing – it should never just be about them helping us out, but us helping them too.”

Outcomes

Working smarter

Up until summer 2012, the Kirklees Accident Prevention Forum members met four times a year. From 2013, they’ll be taking a new approach, with fewer physical meetings but just as much collaboration and mutual support. “Looking ahead, we know that we’ll be facing a situation where there are fewer people to do more work. We decided that we’d need to work smarter and ensure that we’re making the best possible use of our connections and their time,” explains Deborah.

January 2013 will see the first of the new-format annual meetings, which will incorporate a review of the past year and planning for the year ahead. “The annual meetings will bring together all of the key organisations that link up on child injury prevention, including public health, the fire service, police and road safety. Every representative has a strategic role within their organisation but we’ll also be working at a practical level, looking at things like the best timings for campaigns.”

Innovative approaches

One example of how YCC is already working smarter is its collaboration with Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board and the local Sure Start team to create a child safety e-learning resource for frontline practitioners. “The e-learning resource will be full of simple messages about safety in the home, fire safety and road safety, which practitioners can use in their work with parents and carers. In time, we hope to make it available as a resource for parents and carers too.”

What we can learn

  • During times of change, it’s worth taking a step back to look at the ways you work with partner organisations. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way, it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way in the future. There may be more time-efficient approaches that could deliver the same – or greater – impact.
  • When working with frontline practitioners such as health visitors and community nursery nurses, it’s helpful to think about how you can enhance their services, as well as how they can help you get safety messages across. There may be ways for you to add value to under-resourced teams, for example by providing them with resources for events they’re organising.
  • Listening to feedback from those who take part in your injury prevention events and activities, whether it’s parents, teachers, children or other audiences, can help you to maximise the impact of your programme and keep participants engaged.

Further information

For more information about the work discussed in this case study, please contact Deborah Kiernan on 01484 519988 or deborah.kiernan@nccuk.org.uk

Updated February 2014