Doreset Child Support Teams United At New Base

SUPPORT workers have been given a new base to help children in Weymouth and Portland.

Psychologists, health workers and social services teams who previously travelled into the borough will now use a new office at the Compass Centre in Chickerell Road, Weymouth.

Weymouth and Portland Children’s services are using the office at the former Wyvern School site to co-ordinate support workers and provide room for meetings and research.

Services co-ordinator Chris Wilson said the office will help improve support for families who consent to workers working together.

She said: “The reason I’m so keen is because it’s a new way of getting all of the services talking to each other and that makes things better for the children and their families.

“If we have a family with a housing issue who also need support from a health worker it’s just a case of speaking to someone across a desk.

“It will be more efficient and effective as it’s a lot quicker than trying to drag somebody down from Dorchester and Winfrith.

“The support workers will be around Weymouth and Portland and it means the families who need them will have quicker access because the services will be able to visit them quicker.”

Jon Nash, Dorset County Council’s director of children’s services, was among the guests at the official opening.

He said children who have significant and specialist needs will continue to receive specialist care from social services, adding: “The systems are already in place for those who need specialist care so we are now talking about those who are not performing well at school.

“This is part of the every child matters’ strategy to get people working together in local teams.

“The targets for this are the children who would not previously have qualified for any kind of help.”

The multi-agency base at the Compass Centre – the first in Dorset – has seven desks with computer ports installed for the support workers and two desks for the co-ordinators.

Centre manager Allan Wood said he supported the scheme because he works with the social workers, psychologists and health professionals who will be based there.

He said: “It’s a total common sense move for the locality team to be close to us. I welcome the move because the professionals we work with will be passing my front door instead of me having to arrange meetings with them, and that isn’t easy.”

The Compass Centre is a pupil referral unit for Weymouth and Portland’s out-of-school service, educating children who have struggled at school through behavioural or health problems.

The multi-agency base is being funded by Dorset County Council and Connexions, the information and advice service for young people. The council hopes to establish a base in each district and borough in the county, with a site for Bridport currently being planned.