We are a social enterprise not-for-profit venture, formed in March 2010. We work with children, families and vulnerable adults to provide protection, safeguarding, empowerment, problem-solving skills and support.
The concept of the SWEET Project emerged in 2009 after Jayne Hulbert and Jayne Cresswell were made redundant from a national charity as part of a process which culminated in the closure of much-needed family support services for the residents of South Birmingham. Having worked in the area for over 10 years, the two Jaynes decided they would try to re-establish a service for families in need. Between 2009 and 2010, they began to research the possibility of setting up a family support service. Many ideas offered potential. In the early days, the significant obstacles which had to be overcome included the provision of suitable office accommodation and the acquisition of financial and business expertise
The breakthrough for the project came from its emerging relationship with the University of Birmingham. The SWEET model of family support started to emerge. The Jaynes were able to draw on their knowledge of student placement provision and of the pressing social needs that existed in Birmingham. Their idea was simple and had two aims: on the one hand, to find a workable means of meeting the needs of families and adults; at the same time, to improve the quality of placement learning opportunities for student social workers. But would it be possible to combine the two? The SWEET Project was born out of this question.
The SWEET Project is committed to helping families and adults in Birmingham to meet the challenges they face on a daily basis. One of our key aims is to ensure that families and adults in the greatest need receive a specific level of support to help them overcome their difficulties. The support offered is essential, often provided where other agencies do not offer any or where their support has ended. We are committed to building strong relationships with families and adults.
These are crucial days in the short history of The SWEET Project. As we fight for our survival (see below), we realise that we need to provide our supporters and the wider public with as much information about us as possible, as soon as possible.
Our new website is nearing completion and will appear here in its entirety by the end of the summer. In the mean time, because something is better than nothing, we are making this slimmed-down version available now and will add to it as time allows.
Pages currently under development will include information for or about our business partners, service users and alumni and a full set of contact details. We also plan to provide an online library of documents relevant to our work and further details of how you can provide the financial support which we so desperately need.
The Department of Health held a consultation last year to review the Educational Support Grant, which is the pot of money that funds the student placements at the SWEET Project. We were not involved in the consultation and so, on the 19th May, when we became aware that the placement fee was to be reduced from £28 to £20 per day per student, the news came as a complete and devastating shock. This will effectively reduce our income by a third next year. It could be catastrophic for the local community which we currently support in South Birmingham as the SWEET Project will struggle to remain in business and we are the only provider of support services in the area. The reduction comes into force from September 2014 so we have very little time to act. We are currently contacting all schools, universities and the Local Authority to discuss what support they can offer us at this difficult time.
We accept referrals from a wide range of agencies such as the health service, the police, fire services, domestic abuse projects, TESS, children's centres, primary and secondary schools, signposting services, adult day centres, GPs and community psychiatric nurses. This supplements the 48% of our workload which is referred by the Local Authority. We are therefore able to provide practice learning opportunities of high quality that meet the HCPC's requirements for statutory placements.
Since the Project opened, we have taken a total of 415 first- and final-placement student social workers from 26 universities from Scotland in the north to Bristol University in the south (June 2014).