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Innovative services shortlisted for prestigious national award

Two innovative services which find creative ways to help some of Norfolk’s most vulnerable families overcome complex relationship and mental health difficulties have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

The Compass Outreach Service and the Norfolk Parent Infant Mental Health Service (PIMHS) have been jointly shortlisted for a Health Service Journal Award in the “improved partnerships between health and local government” category.

Compass Outreach, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with The Benjamin Foundation and Norfolk County Council, works with ‘looked after’ children and those at risk of being taken into care. It has been shortlisted after supporting more than 170 families in its first year. 

PIMHS, which is also run by NSFT, offers targeted mental health support for the parent and specialist attachment focused therapy when a baby is at risk of being taken into care, in turn encouraging bonding to ensure families can remain together.

Both initiatives proved such a success during their pilot phases that they have been fully funded by Norfolk County Council since April. In addition, they both received recognition in NSFT’s Putting People First Awards earlier this year, where Compass Outreach was highly commended in the ‘partnership’ category and PIMHS picked up top prize for ‘innovation’.

Nicki Bramford, Deputy Service Manager for NSFT’s Children, Families and Young People’s Service and operational lead for Compass and PIMHS, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for this high-profile national award in recognition of the success of the teams.

“The two services have gone above and beyond the call of duty, displaying a care and devotion that has been recognised by the families and services alike. They place the child and family at the centre of all of their work, and look at their needs in a holistic and inclusive way.

“They tackle everything with enthusiasm and passion and are incredibly committed to building relationships to support and change the way we work with babies, children, families, carers and services in Norfolk.”

Dr Charlotte Granger, Clinical Psychologist at NSFT who is clinical lead for Compass Outreach, said: “A key principal of these partnerships is the focus on genuine authentic relationships as being the foundation for cohesive effective clinical practice. This focus extends from the clinician's relationship with the service user right up to the relationship between the local authority and the NHS trust.

“It is within secure relationships that flexibility and openness develop, which in turn allows trust to enable the partners to fully realise their potential. This approach is outstanding in both its simplicity and bravery in refusing to accept the many barriers that modern practice can place in the way of having open and honest relationships.”

Dr Richard Pratt, Clinical Psychologist at NSFT, who is joint clinical lead for PIMHS said: “A strong attachment between a parent and their baby is vital as it helps the baby to feel safe and able to explore the world as they develop.

“The service’s aims are to support the parent, improve attachment and have a positive impact on the family’s emotional experiences during a crucial stage of the baby’s development, in turn helping them remain together. We are aware that positive outcomes are influenced not only by the therapeutic work we offer but also the close collaboration between ourselves, children’s services and other providers.

“We are really pleased the initiative has been recognised nationally for the positive impact it has had on families here in Norfolk."

Roger Smith, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee said: “I am delighted that these two projects which are aimed at – and succeeding in – keeping families together in Norfolk are being recognised.

“We know that children do far better if they spend their childhoods with their own or extended families, and I am delighted that we are focusing on supporting vulnerable families so that children can grow up with the love and care they need.”

Kirsty Pitcher, Director of Operations (Early Help) from the Benjamin Foundation said: “As a voluntary sector organisation, we are proud to be involved in this partnership with each of us bringing different strengths to the project. By working together, we are strengthening the support available leading to improved outcomes for children, young people and families.”

Project leads will find out if they have been successful in the HSJ awards at a ceremony in London on 23 November.