A NEW strategy for how York's most vulnerable children will be protected and supported has been mapped out.

The document, drawn up by York children's trust YorOK and City of York Safeguarding Children Board, outlines how agencies can help during the first years of a child's life and quickly intervene if they are needed.

The organisations said stepping in swiftly prevented more intrusive and expensive action being taken further down the line.

York's Early Help Strategy 2014-16 is now available online, and a young single mother with severe depression who moved to York with her new baby has explained how seeking help has "changed my life".

The woman, who remained anonymous, said she was advised to contact City of York Council's family information service once her depression was being treated, joined a local baby group and met an outreach worker who suggested family learning courses to meet new people and gain skills.

She was encouraged to enrol in an access course in guidance and social work at York College, leading to a degree in children, young people and families which she is currently undertaking.

She said: "I hope to work with families and parents in the future, to give the support and guidance I have been so lucky to receive.

"The family information service are always on the other end of the phone and constantly have up-to-date information, which was and still is important to me when things are changing on a regular basis.

"Now I am on my way not only to doing the job I love, but being able to support my daughter and enjoy life, all from one phone call. I don't feel I would have pursued my career goals if I hadn't originally called the council, and without their support with finding me childcare, I honestly feel I would have given up with my studies."

Coun Janet Looker, cabinet member for education, children and young people, said: "We need to continue to ensure we are developing a city in which individuals, families, professionals and communities have the skills to support themselves wherever possible, as well as knowing where to go if they need extra help."

Simon Westwood, who chairs the Safeguarding Children Board, said immediate help could make a "significant and long-lasting difference" to children and the strategy would make it clear what has to be done to help families in need. It can be found at yor-ok.org.uk.