On 10th May, iNetwork hosted an event focused on multi-agency data sharing for vulnerability, bringing together stakeholders from the public sector to discuss the benefits and challenges of sharing data across organisations. The event was attended by over 30 participants and featured presentations from members and partners.

The first presentation was delivered by Craig Hughes, Head of Data at Stockport Council. Craig discussed their project called Family Context, which is funded by the Local Digital Fund. Family Context is a digital solution that enables local agencies in Stockport involved in the care and support of families to access and share information in a secure and effective way. The platform brings together data from multiple agencies in order to provide on the spot and accurate insight on a vulnerable individual enabling immediate action.

Craig stated preparation work such as ensuring data quality, building a secure data architecture and gaining stakeholder buy-in has been important to the successful alpha phase of Family Context. The tool makes it easier and quicker for social workers to gain a complete picture of a family’s needs and risks to make more informed decision making. Craig highlighted that the tool has already received positive feedback, but noted that Stockport needs to do more work to encourage social workers to regularly use the tool. Craig explained the council is working to embed the tool in standard training for all social workers as well as doing more to highlight the key benefits of using the tool.

The second presentation was delivered by Abigail Everett, Client Services Manager at Policy in Practice and Jan Hancer, Campaigns Director at CC2i who focused on the product Multi Agency Safeguarding Tracker (MAST). MAST is a data sharing platform that enables different agencies involved in safeguarding to share information and coordinate their responses. The platform includes a range of features, including risk assessments, case management tools, and reporting capabilities. By providing a shared platform for data sharing, MAST helps to improve collaboration and efficiency across agencies, as well as improving support for vulnerable individuals.

Jane explained the tool was built by Policy in Practice in just 12 months during the Covid lockdown with social workers and a range of stakeholders from across the public sector in the West Midlands.  The tool brings together data from children’s, Adults, Police, health as well as fire and rescue to give an up to date picture of an individual. Jane highlighted that there were multiple challenges in creating the tool including lack of capacity within project partners, separate IT systems and governance made data sharing complex and there was no oversight of the safeguarding landscape. Having overcome the initial challenges the tool is now live and looking to draw in more data sets to further enhance the product.

Abigail led on a live demo of the product, highlighting how easy the tool is to use. Social workers in the field are able to quickly look up people via name or address to gain a picture of when and how they have interacted with various authorities. The tool provides in the field professionals with vital safeguarding information, allowing them to inform the support they provide to vulnerable individuals.

The final presentation was delivered by trio Paul Davidson, Assistant Project Director at Somerset Council, Andrew Humphreys, Consultant at RedQuadrant and Shelley Heckman, Partnership Director at iNetwork who discussed the project Scalable Approach to Vulnerability via Interoperability (SAVVI). SAVVI is a project that aims to improve the sharing of data between organisations to help identify vulnerable individuals and ensure they don’t fall between gaps in services. SAVVI brings together data standards, data sharing, and information governance, within a model process that can be applied to ‘find, assess, and support’ individuals and households over a wide range of vulnerabilities. By providing a shared platform for data sharing, SAVVI helps to improve collaboration and efficiency across agencies, with the aim of early identification and smarter interventions.

Paul explained that SAVVI is not a product but a set of standards and methods, allowing councils to replicate successes achieved in vulnerability work by adapting the approach to their local context. Paul also outlined the SAVVI playbook which is the open set of resources including temples and process maps that public sector bodies can use to further understand and implement SAVVI methodology to a vulnerability project. Paul highlighted SAVVI aims to provide a structured methodology to establish a common understanding of legal gateways for data reuse and sharing, a common challenge when dealing with vulnerability data.

SAVVI Coach Andrew Humphreys followed, who has been working with councils to guide them through the methodology, processes, standards, and information governance. Highlighting the versatility of the SAVVI methodology, Andrew discussed the work with Wigan Council. Wigan have been utilising the SAVVI methods in the area of civil contingencies, particularly focusing on the response to flooding.

Shelley Heckman concluded the presentation by highlighting various ways to get involved with the SAVVI programme. Shelley explained the various groups in which the SAVVI methodology and multi-agency data sharing is discussed including the one-to-one session with the team, the SAVVI Enablers group and the regular SAVVI show and tell event series. Shelley also encouraged organisations to sign up the SAVVI declaration, which is an agreement that there is a problem that needs to be addressed in how the public sector approaches vulnerability, agreeing to a pathway of how to approach the issue nationally.

The event was a great success, providing an opportunity for stakeholders from across the iNetwork membership to come together and discuss the benefits and challenges of multi-agency data sharing. There was great engagement throughout the session and the presentations highlighted some innovative solutions that are being developed to address the challenges of data sharing and improve collaboration and outcomes for individuals and communities.