Leicester

Leicestershire child helpline gets 1,000 calls

A helpline for children's welfare in Leicestershire was contacted more than 1,000 times in its first week.

The county council's new Children's Duty Desk is staffed by social workers and handles everything from reports of abuse to parental advice.

In the first seven days it took 676 calls and received 200 faxes and 180 e-mails.

The desk takes on work from five area offices and officials insisted this was to give a better service.

It opened on 27 September but its first figures have just been released.

'Professional approach'

Calls also included a mother who said she had no money for her family to live on and a teacher who was worried about a pupil.

Manager Nicci Collins said callers got the best advice available.

"We take a very professional approach. We are all qualified social workers and we have very good policies and procedures in place to support us in making decisions," she said.

She added: "It creates a situation where social workers in the community can spend more time with vulnerable young people because they don't have to do the initial assessment, we do that."

Walter McCullock, assistant director for specialist services at County Hall, said replacing the five offices brought two main improvements.

"We can ensure that we give a consistent response because the response is coming from one source.

"And also it means we can release precious qualified social workers to visit vulnerable families which is where they can be most effective."

The area offices at Melton, Hinckley, Loughborough, Coalville and Oadby will still be open so people can visit with concerns and for general day-to-day work.

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