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The Violence and Vulnerability Unit has, for the last academic year, funded two Team Around the Family Support Officers (TAFSOs) after the Vulnerable School’s Index highlighted two geographical locations where a specific place based TAFSO would have the greatest impact.

The role of a TAFSO is to provide support to any professional in Essex who may be working with a family. The TAFSO offers coaching, modelling, and training support to help individual practitioners e.g., teachers, health professionals, voluntary sector gain skills they need to provide tailored support to families they work with.

The idea behind the TAFSO is that families are supported by professionals who know exactly what resources and opportunities are available locally to help the family. The family are involved in any conversations about the support available. They sit with the professionals and together agree action plans and tasks to overcome issues that may be affecting them. The family are very much a willing and engaged participant rather than having something done to them.

The VVU spoke to Alison who manages the TAFSO team.  She says how the TAFSO help build confidence in the local workforce and by working with the families it often means issues aren’t escalated, stopping the need for social work or police involvement.

The feedback from the professionals who have used the TAFSO for support has been really positive: `Being part of the V&V project this year and having the support of Louise has really made a difference to how I see the support that is available for families outside of what we can offer in school. Having regular contact with a TAFSO meant that at least half-termly I was able to reflect on the families and young people I was most concerned about and create a plan with Louise’s support to address their needs. The training, coaching and support she offered has allowed me to delegate more to my pastoral team`. Clacton School

This support has been echoed by the families who have been involved: “I’ve had to attend lots of meetings for my daughter and this is the most supported we have felt. Before we felt we sat in them and just listened, but now we get to talk as much as everyone else!”

The two TAFSOs that the VVU have been funding have been working in Clacton and East Basildon. At the start of this new academic year, they have moved to focus their support in Greenstead and the Five Links area of Basildon bringing early help to even more families across Essex.