11/02/2020 - Permalink

New model of youth support gains backing of councillors

Related topics: Children's services

A new way of delivering youth support services across Shropshire, which was agreed by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet last month, has received the support of the council’s performance management scrutiny committee, after being ‘called in’ for further consideration.

Councillors on the scrutiny committee examined the new model of support at their meeting today (Tuesday 11 February), after concerns were raised by opposition councillors.

Under the new arrangements there will be both targeted support through outreach/detached youth work – ie. meeting young people wherever they are, in schools and in places where they choose to congregate – and open access clubs, whilst building a trusted and appropriate network of youth support across Shropshire.

The changes will ensure that there is increased support for vulnerable young people, with more money available to help troubled young people involved in youth crime and at risk of exploitation.

The new approach was proposed following a consultation held late in 2019 into youth support in the county, and this local work took place alongside a national review launched on 10 July 2019 into how councils should secure activities and services for young people.

Open access youth clubs are currently funded via the Local Joint Committee commissioning arrangements, but Shropshire Council is now looking to town and parish councils to fund them, so that funding can be redirected to target those most vulnerable.

The council will provide funding for a team of youth workers to provide an element of detached youth work across the county.

Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, said:

“I firmly believe that this new approach to youth support is the best and right one. A great deal of time and work has been spent agreeing this new model and making sure it’s the best way forward for the council and, most importantly, our young people. I’m pleased that councillors on the scrutiny committee saw the value and many benefits of this approach.

“Our aim is to strengthen and grow the current limited offer of support, extending the focus to incorporate Shropshire’s troubled and more vulnerable young people involved in youth crime, at risk of school exclusion and exploitation.

“With an increase in youth crime, exploitation and demand on children’s social care, there is a growing focus nationally on the work councils need to undertake to ensure the most vulnerable young people can access and receive the support they need.

“This new model will enable us to build a trusted and appropriate network of youth support across Shropshire.”

Councillor Claire Wild, chair of the corporate support services scrutiny committee, said:

“We have to change the way we work in order to protect the most vulnerable young people in our society. Times have changed, the risks have altered, and it is accepted nationally that the model proposed is the best way forward.”

The proposed model of youth support will cost Shropshire Council £365,000 per year.

The model will be implemented gradually, initially by employing a strategic lead and a team of detached youth workers, working with the town councils who have expressed an interest in this partnership approach.

The new model was broadly supported in the consultation, but some concerns were raised, especially from town councils, parish councils, and from the voluntary and community sector.

The gradual implementation – proposed by a cross-party task and finish group of councillors in response to concerns raised – will allow more time to work at a local level with town councils and parish councils, and to work with the voluntary sector to redesign and implement a revised package of support for the voluntary clubs.

The eight-week formal consultation period on the proposed model of youth support ran from 9 September to 31 October 2019. There were 342 surveys returned – 126 from the public, 70 from groups and organisations, and 146 from children and young people. There were 1,361 comments from the 342 survey respondents.

Further information

1. Shropshire’s model for youth provision

a. In the new model Shropshire Council will work with partners, including town councils and parish councils, to design and deliver a localised model of youth provision maximising the use of all available resources and funding to:

• Work with local providers/partners and voluntary sector to support the delivery of open access youth clubs.
• Target services towards those young people in most need of support, including those who are vulnerable or most at risk.
• Ensure qualified youth workers are in place across Shropshire, providing the skills and experience needed to make most difference.
• Work to address emerging social issues and concerns such as youth violence and knife crime, county lines etc.
• Provide a localised youth offer – ensuring there are workers on the ground able to reach young people within the community eg schools/colleges, on the streets.
• Build and strengthen the system of support available to meet the needs of young people by linking qualified youth workers to other services and specialist workers.
• Improve the use of information to understand impact and enable investment to build on success.

b. The new model will see the council employing a strategic lead for youth support who will develop the Youth Partnership model and manage a team of three professionally qualified youth workers, based north, central and south, who in turn will manage teams of part-time youth support workers.

c. Town councils and parish councils will ensure delivery and resourcing of open access youth groups.

d. Shropshire Council will explore models of support to the voluntary sector who currently deliver open access youth clubs. This would include support around safeguarding as well as DBS checks, training, implementation of appropriate policies and procedures and assistance to support future financial sustainability. There is further detailed work to be undertaken to develop an appropriate specification, but we anticipate a budget allocation of £60,000 for this activity.

2. Shropshire Council is currently in discussion with four town councils and two parish councils who are keen to work in partnership to develop the model locally.

3. The consultation was held as part of the council’s review of the delivery of youth support in Shropshire. A review was necessary because the current arrangements were due to come to an end, and decisions needed to be taken concerning how youth provision should be delivered in the future to best meet local needs.