Huddle helps Devon County Council's Targeted Family Support Initiative 

With a population of around 750,000, Devon County Council is one of the UK's largest local authorities to implement the national Troubled Families Programme (under the name Targeted Family Support Initiative).  

A government developed initiative, the Troubled Families Programme makes funding available to work with families struggling with youth crime, antisocial behaviour and poor attendance at school, and unemployment.

In order to provide these families with the support they need, Devon’s Targeted Family Support initiative required a multi-agency response and the creation of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), with involvement and collaboration between the NHS, Police, probation service, community and voluntary section, Job Centre Plus as well as many other agencies and partners.

“In Devon there are 1,370 families that meet the criteria for a troubled family. We have to put together information and provide evidence to show why families meet the criteria. In doing this, we can secure the appropriate funding,” explained Mark Hammett, Project Manager, Devon County Council. “We needed a central platform where we could save all of this information and bring a community of people together.”

The cloud removes barriers to sharing information

Devon County Council realised very early on in the project that it was going to have to find a new way to communicate and collaborate with agency stakeholders. Before Huddle, the Council had found it very difficult to share information across agencies. Some partners had secure email, but many didn’t.

“The level of collaboration is mixed across public sector organisations, even though they are working with the same families. An early priority was to get everyone working together effectively,” Hammett continues. 

Devon County Council took an innovative approach and selected Huddle - allowing it to work securely in the cloud. This meant stakeholders weren't restricted by their own (differing) IT platforms. 

Security was a high priority

Devon County Council was led to Huddle because it needed a tool with that met its rigorous security requirements. With agencies nervous about sharing sensitive information, Huddle’s certifications provided peace of mind and helped to convince stakeholders.

“A lot of the information we are working with such, as family contact details, is very sensitive. Huddle’s pan government accreditation was a winner for us. There’s also a long list of government organisations already using Huddle and in our sector we needed that reassurance,” commented Hammett. 

With a population the same size as London, but over a much bigger area, Devon County Council had to break the initiative down into smaller chunks. It set up seven pilot sites around school catchment areas and gave each pilot site its own workspace in Huddle, so they had a central place to store all the information they needed to run and manage the project.

A management group was then assigned for each area to take responsibility for implementing the programme locally, a cross-agency practitioner group to conduct the day-to-day work with families, and a coordinator overseeing all activity in each region. Working with so many agencies working with each family, Huddle now provides an essential hub of activity and files. And, because it’s cloud based, Huddle automatically synchronises everyone in the Workspace to the latest document version and team activity. This means stakeholders are always kept up to date with relevant information, tasks and commentary – leaving no room for error. Workspaces can be carefully controlled so that only those with the relevant permissions are able to view and access content.

“People have been very are excited about Huddle. Central Government and Local Authorities were keen to see how it worked so they can hold Huddle up as an example of the technology needed to support the roll-out of other similar multi-agency projects," finished Hammett.

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