Story: Sheffield Information Link
Two workers with a wealth of experience about childcare opportunities in Sheffield have been recruited as part of a major expansion of the way information services are provided within the city – aiming to ensure that everyone in Sheffield can gain better access to the information they need about services for 0 – 19 years.
Margaret Goodlad – formerly project manager of the successful Creating More Balance initiative which aimed to encourage the region’s businesses to introduce work/life balance – and Lorna Dowrick, whose experience includes 6 years supporting community development – are the duo charged with making sure that childcare information is easily accessible throughout the city.
The decision to appoint the two workers follows an initial pilot scheme from January to July last year which aimed to identify the best ways of delivering information into local communities. The pilot scheme focused on four of the city’s Children’s Centres and, amongst other interventions, an information worker was based at the Burngreave Children’s Centre for 17.5 hours each week, providing face to face advice to local parents and carers.
The six month pilot was such a success that Burngreave Children’s Centre decided to fund a further six month initiative, and the results from that first year – in terms of increasing awareness of what’s available and stimulating take up of services – have been so impressive that the City Council’s Early Years and Education Services have agreed to fund the two new posts to co-ordinate and develop the delivery of services at local levels throughout the city.
Margaret and Lorna’s role will be to establish effective delivery of information at local level to complement the effective citywide service provided by Sheffield Information Link, and working closely with the growing number of Children’s Centres, eighteen of which are being developed over the next year, in addition to the thirteen already open in the city. Employed by Sheffield Information Link – formerly Children’s Information Service – Margaret will be based at Burngreave Children’s Centre and will cover the north of the city, and Lorna will be based at Manor Children’s Centre, from where she will cover the south of the city.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge of helping to make sure information about 0-19 services is provided as close to the people who need it as possible,” said Margaret. “It’s often the families who are most in need of support who find it most difficult to get the information they need – through this initiative, we’ll be improving access to information at a really local level and making it as easy as possible for local families to get what they need.”