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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 31/01/2006
Best Value Review of Services for Young People



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report, which was discussed by the Services for Young People SIG on 18th January, is to set out a summary of the findings from the Review of Services for Young People and recommended actions for inclusion in an Action Plan. The SIG’s comments are set out in the report.

APPENDIX A
Waverley Borough Council

ENVIRONMENT AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
31ST JANUARY 2006

SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
18THJANUARY 2006

Title:
BEST VALUE REVIEW OF SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report, which was discussed by the Services for Young People SIG on 18th January, is to set out a summary of the findings from the Review of Services for Young People and recommended actions for inclusion in an Action Plan. The SIG’s comments are set out in the report.

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A Vision for Waverley - a Place for the Young

Waverley, a place where young people will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities which are accessible, inclusive and challenging. A place where young people will have a voice and can contribute to developing an environment which supports their physical and emotional well being, where they are safe and respected.

Environmental implications:

The actions arising from the strategy will enhance the environment in which young people live.

Social / community implications:

The aim of the review will be to improve the quality of services provided within the borough for young people. This in turn will improve the quality of life and the environment in which young people live. The review will focus on initiatives, which address issues of social inclusion as well as identifying initiatives which will provide safe, healthy and active opportunities for young people which meet their identified needs.

E-Government implications:

The final document will be published on the Waverley Borough Council web site.

Resource and legal implications:

Whilst there will be resource requirements arising from the implementation of the detailed action plan associated with the review, any resource requirements will be the subject of the Council’s budget process. It is not assumed that the resulting action plan will be delivered or resourced solely by the Council.

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Background

1. At its meeting of 2nd August 2004, the Executive agreed to undertake a Review of Services for Young People to be carried out with the rigour of a Best Value Review following the Council’s agreed process. The Executive also endorsed the proposal to establish a Special Interest Group (SIG) to assist in undertaking the review, which was established in January 2005.

Membership of the SIG

2. There was recognition that the review could not be undertaken in isolation, therefore due regard was given to the services provided for young people by external agencies within the borough in order that a proper assessment was achieved, gaps identified and partnerships encouraged to ensure continuous service improvements. To support this, the SIG invited representatives from other key stakeholder organisations to input into the review process. These organisations included:

q Surrey County Council (SCC) Youth Services

q Connexions Service

q Town and Parish health check co-ordinators

Objectives of the Review

3. The key objectives of this Review agreed by the Executive were to:

q Identify what services for young people were currently provided by the Council

q Identify key needs within the borough

q Identify gaps in current service delivery

q Raise awareness in the community of services and facilities available for young people

q Identify opportunities for greater` partnership working with other service providers in a more coordinated and joined-up approach securing service delivery which meets local needs

q Develop an action plan for the Council with key priorities which can be monitored and evaluated and feed into Waverley’s Community strategy, Cultural Strategy and the Council’s Corporate Plan

q Provide a policy framework for delivery of services to young people by the Borough Council

q Develop mechanisms to ensure that the voices of young people and stakeholders are heard on an ongoing basis

Scope of the Review

4. In determining the scope of the review it is important to recognise that the review related to the work of the Borough Council. Currently there is no statutory responsibility (other than requirements relating to child protection) for Borough Councils to deliver services for young people. However this Council recognises the importance of young people and already provides a mix of services. The purpose of the review therefore was to consider how the Council could improve its services for young people within the resources it has available.

5. The scope of the review was as follows:

q Young People aged 11 – 18

q Providing services that young people want

q Improving access to services

q Giving young people a voice and the opportunity to influence the democratic process- empowerment

q Preventing crime being done to and by young people

q Providing advice and information

q Improving the health of young people – helping them to lead healthier lifestyles

Review Process

6. A Best Value Review is a process of assessing the purpose, quality and cost of a service or activity and drawing up proposals to improve its performance and effectiveness in meeting user needs. The purpose of each review is to assess a service or activity against the key elements of Best Value, challenge, compare, consult and compete commonly known as the 4C’s. The objective is to ensure continuous improvement.

Review Findings

7. Before setting out a summary of the key findings from the review it is beneficial to set out the context in which the Council operates in relation to delivering services for young people. The following key policies and initiatives when considered alongside local priorities provide a framework for the Council’s future service planning.

National/Regional/County context

"Every Child Matters"

8. The aim of the government as set out in the Green Paper (published in 2003) is to ensure that every child has the chance to fulfil their potential by reducing levels of educational failure, ill health, substance misuse, teenage pregnancy, abuse and neglect, crime and anti-social behaviour among children and young people.

9. Following a series of consultation events, the five outcomes, which mattered most to children and young people, were:
"Youth Matters" 10. The Youth Matters Green Paper was published in 2005 and consults on the development of a new strategy for providing opportunities, challenge and support to young people. The vision is to see services integrated around young people’s needs, helping all teenagers achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes to the greatest possible extent.

11. The proposals aim to address four key challenges:

Surrey County Council Youth Service

12. The Youth Development Service supports and encourages young people to fully realise their potential and aims to remove any barriers that might hinder this. Through informal education, advice, and support, the Service enables young people to make informed and appropriate choices as they make the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Surrey Connexions

13. Connexions Surrey is committed to providing all young people with a wide range of high quality and accessible information, advice, guidance and practical support differentiated to meet the needs of the individual young person.

14. The Surrey Connexions Board provides a differentiated service that is both universal and targeted, with a focus on those young people who are at risk of disengaging from any forms of learning, and those who are not making a successful transition at age 16.

Borough Context

Waverley Borough Council

15. The Council does not have a statutory obligation to provide services for young people. However, there are a number of services provided by the Council that do have an impact on young people (see Annexe A). Furthermore, the Council can play a strategic role to influence, support and mould innovative new services. Improving Services for Young People is a key priority for the Borough Council as set out in the Council’s corporate priorities.

Living in Waverley

16. Waverley is situated in south-west Surrey. It covers an area of 345 square kilometres, of which three-quarters is agriculture and woodland, 61 per cent is Green Belt and 80 per cent is covered by environmental protection policies including the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a predominantly rural district with 17 rural parish councils comprising 20 villages and is the largest district by geographic area in Surrey. Waverley is 35 miles from central London and is served by good strategic road and rail links but has a predominantly rural road network and limited public transport options.

17. The district has a population of 115,665 (2001 census), three-quarters of whom live in four centres of population – Farnham, Godalming, Haslemere and Cranleigh – all on the fringes of the borough. The proportion of young people under 18 years is 22% with 10% of the total population being aged 10 – 17yrs. The district also has 20 per cent of the population above pension age, which is higher than the national figure of 18 per cent. With higher than average life expectancy in the district compared with regional and national averages. The proportion of people from ethnic groups other than ‘white British’ is 2.6 per cent; this compares with 8.7 per cent for the South East and 13 per cent for England.

18. Waverley is ranked low on the indices of deprivation, at 340th out of 354 English councils. Despite this the district does have pockets of deprivation in wards such as Godalming North East and South West, and 4 per cent of wards in the district fall within the 50 per cent most deprived wards nationally. House prices are high and demand for affordable housing exceeds supply. Fifty-three per cent of residents are economically active. Unemployment at less than 1 per cent is well below the national average.

Analysis of the Findings

19. As part of the review process officers analysed feedback from various consultation exercises which had been carried out, to identify the needs of young people in the borough (a list of the consultation exercises carried out by the Council can be found at Annexe B). As well as collating the findings of consultations carried out directly by the Council, feedback was also provided by the following organisations who undertake regular consultation with young people; Surrey Connexions Service, Surrey Youth Service, Cranleigh, Haslemere and Farnham health checks.

20. In addition to analysing the consultation findings, officers undertook an exercise of comparing what services to young people Waverley as a council provides with those provided by other Surrey local authorities. Tables showing the comparisons can be found in Annexe C and include details of officer structures which support young people, a summary of activities provided and an assessment of youth councils.

21. The objectives in the scope of this Review identify six key areas to be considered, these were:

A. Providing services that young people want

B. Improving access to services

C. Giving young people a voice and the opportunity to influence the democratic process- empowerment

D. Preventing crime being done to and by young people

E. Providing advice and information

F. Improving the health of young people – helping them to lead healthier lifestyles

22. Under each of the above there are a number of key issues and needs, which have been identified from the various elements of research carried out in this review. The main issues and needs arising are as follows:

Objective A – Giving young people a voice and the opportunity to influence the democratic process-empowerment

Waverley is the only local authority in Surrey that does not co-ordinate a Youth Council/Forum. There is no officer resource available internally to facilitate the establishment and on-going management of a Youth Council.

Other Boroughs provide officer support and in some instances allocated budget for Youth Councils to enable them to determine and develop youth initiatives.

There is a need to involve young people more in decision-making and shaping local provision. Although the Council has carried out one-off consultation projects with young people, there is currently no robust mechanism for consulting with them regularly in the future.

Lack of a coherent Youth Consultation Strategy for the borough with many organisations carrying out their own independent ad-hoc consultations. The Council is perceived by local residents (including young people) as being slow to act on the results of consultations targeting young people that have taken place.

The Council does not actively engage in local democracy week, which is aimed at encouraging greater participation.

The Council does very little to encourage greater participation in the young volunteer programmes and activities. There is limited engagement in the citizenship curriculum by Waverley and this could serve as a useful tool to engage young people and develop their respect for the communities in which they live.

Objective B - Improving access to services

Transport - lack of availability and too costly.

Provision of services in rural areas is poor and there are difficulties in accessing existing facilities.

Access to affordable holiday activities a problem for some both in terms of cost and transport.

Access to inclusive holiday activities a problem for children with physical and learning difficulties, as there is limited availability of inclusive play schemes with trained staff.

Lack of information about what activities are available, the Council does not provide specific information leaflets or other marketing initiatives aimed at young people.

Objective C - Providing services that young people want

The types of activities/facilities and initiatives, which were highlighted by young people as desired, included the following:

§ Improved skate parks and multi use games areas

§ Cinema

§ Bowling

§ Internet access points/cyber cafes

§ Cafés for young people

§ Creative arts – music, digital arts, DJ’ing, Gigs, Festivals, Live Music

§ Dance activities and martial arts

§ Places to meet – including youth shelters

§ Organised activities at a reasonable cost including trips, after school and holiday activities

§ Improved sports centre in Farnham The services provided by the Council have a mainly leisure and primarily a sports and arts focus. Many of the initiatives requested by young people are more socially based e.g. drop-in centres, safe places to meet. The Council has no clear policy on the type of facilities or provision it wishes to develop and to date has expected Surrey County Council to lead on this type of social provision.

As the services provided for young people are discretionary, those currently provided are initiative based and are provided on an ad-hoc and opportunistic basis where resources become available.

There is currently no service plan or detailed strategy for delivering services for young people, which means there is a lack of focus and direction across the Council and from members in this area.

There is no overall responsibility for young people’s services at officer level. The current Lead Officer (Head of Leisure Services) does not have a specific role or responsibilities for young people, though elements of responsibility do come under her remit through Leisure Services in general.

Objective D - Preventing crime being done to and by young people

Safety on public transport an issue for young people.

Young people want more safe places to meet.

Crime surveys highlight a fear of young people, there is a need therefore to break down barriers and misconceptions and improve the image of young people amongst other sectors of the community

Objective E - Providing advice and information

A need for one-stop shop advice centres which have proved successful in other areas but are not currently provided for in Waverley (Farnham Youth Project will provide a one-stop advice centre when fully developed).

Need for more Internet access points so young people can gain access to relevant information.

Lack of information about what activities are available, the Council does not provide any specific form of dedicated marketing of activities for young people.

More information is required on education, training and employment opportunities.

More access points to Connexions service needed.

Objective F- Improving the health of young people – helping them to lead healthier lifestyles

Addressing issues such as drugs and alcohol misuse.

Advice on Sexual Relationships and pregnancy.

Need to increase physical activity levels amongst young people by proactively engaging young people to participate.

Tackling obesity amongst the young, need to establish and work with health providers and schools to encourage young people with obesity problems to take up physical activity.

Continuous Improvement

23. The purpose of the best value review is to produce a list of actions, which will bring about continuous improvement in the way in which the Council provides services for young people. The aim is to produce a clear action plan with targets and a timetable, which can be monitored and evaluated, on an on-going basis.

24. In October 2005 the SIG considered a list of recommendations, which responded to the needs and issues highlighted by the review. A full list is attached at Annexe D. Following an in-depth discussion, members of the SIG agreed the following recommendations as priorities for future action:-

Actions agreed by the SIG as Priorities for the Council:

Key Objectives metRecommended Action
AWork with key partners to develop a Youth Council/Forum to be facilitated by the Council and provide an annual budget in line with other Surrey authorities for identified projects
A,B,C,D,E,FBe represented on a partnership of key agencies working with young people in Waverley and contribute to a joint needs assessment and planning of services for young people within Waverley.
AThrough the Waverley Youth Partnership develop a joint strategy for consultation with young people. Identify sufficient budget to carry out regular consultation with young people.
BProvide targeted activities for youth in partnership with other agencies in rural areas and areas of relative deprivation
A,B,C,D,E,FIdentify funding for a dedicated Youth Development Officer for the Council to take the strategic lead for delivering services to young people
A,B,C,D,E,FCreate a local directory of those organisations currently working with young people within the borough and work with Connexions to create a Forum to share good practice and to facilitate joint working
A,B,C,D,E,FSupport external organisations that deliver projects, which benefit young people through the Councils Community Partnership Fund and Sponsored Organisation Scheme
B,C,D,E,FSupport the provision of drop in facilities. Target to provide one in each of the four key localities. Monitor the success of Farnham Youth Project as a pilot.
C,DIdentify alternative meeting places for young people with partners and consider using existing venues and facilities
C,FImprove the major skate parks and provide additional smaller scale provision in identified locations where local demand is identified through consultation
C,FSeek to provide strategically placed Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs) – and work with partners to secure partnership funding
A,DProvision of Youth Shelters in key sites where local demand is identified through consultation
DInitiate projects, which bring together the young with the elderly to enhance community development, breakdown misconceptions and lead to a greater understanding between the two age groups.
A,EUse SMS Text messaging systems and interactive web sites to engage young people in decision-making. Using latest technologies i.e. web and text messaging provide additional marketing opportunities for organisations providing activities for young people
FEncourage the Council’s Sports Centres to initiate fitness programmes specifically for youth
ESeek to provide Connexions access points within leisure centres where appropriate
B,C,D,FActively engage with Surrey County Council and other agencies involved in the development of the Children’s Trust and the implementation of any reforms emerging from the Governments Youth Matters Green Paper
A,D,FInvestigate ways to encourage greater volunteering by young people and the opportunities for celebration and recognition of young people who contribute to their communities
A,C,EOrganise an annual one day youth event to celebrate young people in the borough using the event as an opportunity to engage with young people proactively
D,EDevelop and implement a corporate child protection policy for the Council in line with the Council’s statutory responsibilities

Observations of the SIG

25. Based on the outcomes of the review, the SIG proposed a vision for Waverley as a place for young people:-

Waverley, a place where young people will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities which are accessible, inclusive and challenging. A place where young people will have a voice and can contribute to developing an environment which supports their physical and emotional well being, where they are safe and respected.

26. At its meeting on 18th January, the SIG also recognised that, although it had completed its task to date in accordance with its terms of reference, there would be a continued need for it to be convened once the proposed action plan had been considered by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Executive, and adopted by the Council. It was agreed that the following should be put forward as revised terms of reference for the next stage of the SIGs work:-

27. It was identified that the funding of a dedicated Youth Development Officer to take the strategic lead for delivering services to young people by way of the action plan, was crucial to ensure the success of its implementation. The SIG was fully supportive of the proposed variation in the draft revenue estimates for 2006/2007 to turn the Arts Development Manager post into a Youth Development Officer post, and felt that a dedicated officer would help to deliver the action plan, drive it forward, help to achieve external funding and work closely with partner agencies.

28. The provision of young people’s services would also be better served once responsibility under the Children’s Act was taken over by the Director of Environment and Leisure.

29. The SIG was keen to support working with partner agencies such as Connexions, Surrey Police and Fire and Rescue, the voluntary sector and Surrey County Council etc, by way of creating a Waverley Area Alliance. The aim would be for the partners to identify shared objectives and to consult and plan together on ways to achieve and fund them, and create a borough wide action plan for the provision of services for young people. This would be led by Waverley.

Conclusion 30. It must be recognised that a key driver for the implementation of many of the initiatives set out in the table above will be dependent upon officer resource and capacity to deliver, as well as sufficient budget. Whilst the resource implications arising from the action plan will be the subject of future reports to members for approval, the current draft revenue budget does make allowance for a variation to fund a dedicated Youth Development Officer and if agreed this will be a major catalyst for much of the work identified by this review. 31. In recognition that the delivery of services for young people is undertaken by a number of agencies within the borough, if the proposals are accepted, officers recommend that they work with key partners to draw up the detailed action plan and bring this back to members at a future date.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee notes the summary of the findings of this Best Value Review of Services for Young People and the SIG’s comments from its meeting on 18th January and passes any observations to the Executive.

Background Papers (DoEL)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Julie Maskery Telephone: 01483 523432

Comms/O&S3/05-06/078