Wiltshire Families First, a support service for families across the county, has helped 96 local children and 78 families in the area in its first year.

The service, which is commissioned by Wiltshire Council and run by children’s charity Action for Children, offers one-to-one support and programmes focusing on prevention and early intervention to children, young people and their families who are facing problems with substance misuse, domestic violence or mental illness.

Over the last year, the service has worked closely with parents to help them to identify and meet the physical, emotional, social, psychological and environmental needs of their children and other family members as early as possible.

Action for Children’s Family Support Practitioners work with the whole family unit to prevent issues developing that could impact upon the emotional and physical development of the children in the family.

Esther Schmidt, Action for Children’s service manager for Wiltshire Families First, said: “We work hard to help parents in Wiltshire better understand and respond to the needs of their children early on.

“By working in partnership with them, finding ways of offering support led by them and challenging them if they don’t keep to the agreements they have made, we can achieve change and improve outcomes  for  families in Wiltshire who are most in need of intensive support - giving children in the area the best possible start in life.”

Wiltshire Families First’s success last year means that it will be developing further into 2013 and 2014.

Ms Schmidt continued: “During the next year we will be working with staff to reach families that think they don’t need the service and we will also be looking at developing specialisms within the team, such as nutrition, finance, equalities and housing, and substance misuse and domestic abuse.”

Councillor Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children services said; “Wiltshire Council fully supports Wiltshire Families First who are working very successfully with many families who are experiencing a range of difficult issues in their lives.

"Their hands-on approach is excellent, and I am glad to see families benefiting from the support. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with them as they develop their service.”