Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

  • Care Leaver Covenant: Children’s and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced a scheme to raise the career aspirations and improve the life skills of care leavers. The Care Leaver Covenant has been signed by more than 50 businesses, charities and government departments in England who have committed to provide work based opportunities to young people leaving the care system. The scheme aims to create 10,000 work opportunities for care leavers over the next 10 years.  For further information check out the Care Leaver Covenant website and see the pledges from government departments.
  • Online Safety: Childnet International has produced guidance for parents and carers on looking after the digital wellbeing of children and young people. This includes having an awareness of how being online can make children and young people feel, and how they can look after themselves and others when online. The guidance includes: age specific information about how children and young people are interacting with the internet; top tips to support young people at this age; and ideas to help start a conversation about digital wellbeing.
  • Loneliness Strategy: The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a strategy setting out the government’s approach to tackling loneliness in England – A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness – laying the foundations for change. The strategy refers to loneliness experienced by children and young people and states that the new subjects of relationships education for primary schools and relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary schools, due to become compulsory in all schools in England in September 2020, will emphasise the value of social relationships. The guidance content for teachers will highlight the impact of loneliness, particularly on mental health.
  • Child trafficking: Europol has published a report on child trafficking in the European Union. Findings from a study of almost 600 intelligence contributions reported to Europol by member states between 2015 and 2017 include: traffickers active in the EU target underage victims mainly for sexual exploitation; the majority of non- EU networks reported to Europol involved Nigerian organised crime groups which traffic female children and women to be sexually exploited; trafficking and exploitation of male children, especially for sexual exploitation, remains an under-reported phenomenon at EU level.
  • Modern slavery: The Home Office has published an annual report on modern slavery in the UK giving an overview of modern slavery and how the UK has responded to it over the last 12 months. The report finds that 2,121 potential child victims of modern slavery were referred to the national referral mechanism (NRM) in 2017. The NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for agencies involved in a trafficking case to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.
  • Knife Crime: The Guardian reports that figures obtained from nine of the NHS’s 11 regional major trauma centres in England that treat adults and children show that they dealt with 2,278 victims of serious knife crime in 2017-18, with cases involving under-18s increasing by 24.4% since 2015-16.
  • Kinship Care: Grandparents Plus has published a report looking at the challenges faced by kinship carers – grandparents and other family members – who have taken on the care of children who aren’t able to live with their parents. Findings from responses to a survey from 1,139 kinship carers across the UK show that the most common reasons for children living with respondents include: parental drug or alcohol misuse (51%), abuse and/or neglect (54%), a parent being unable to cope (39%), and domestic violence (31%). Carers also report that 54% of the children in their care have special needs, of which 85% have emotional or behavioural problems.

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Children’s access to healthy food: The Food Foundation has released a report analysing Public Health England’s (PHE) Eatwell guide, finding that 3.7 million children in the UK live in households for whom a healthy diet is increasingly unaffordable. Families earning less than £15,860 would need to spend 42% of after-housing income on food to meet the costs of the Government’s nutrition guidelines. The report calls for a national measurement of food insecurity in the UK.

Parental responsibility: guidance: The Department for Education has published guidance to help schools and local authorities in England understand and deal with issues relating to parental responsibility as recognised by education law, in particular in situations where parental responsibility can be confusing or unclear.

Young carers: Coram has published an evaluation of the Young carers in schools Programme, a free England-wide initiative delivered by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society aimed at improving the identification and support of young carers in schools.  The published report, A better relationship with learning: an evaluation of the young carers in schools programme, involved an online survey of 103 schools involved in the programme, 14 interviews with schools and other stakeholders, and two focus groups with young carers. Findings include: the introduction of the programme resulted in the identification of an increased number of young carers; 85% of schools reported that young carers were demonstrating increased wellbeing; 83% reported increased happiness and 83% reported increased confidence.

Mental health policy in England: The House of Commons Library has published a briefing on mental health policy in England. The briefing includes reference to services for children and young people.

Children and young people’s mental health networks: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the creation of eight mental health networks to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address mental health research questions including: health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health; social isolation; youth and student mental health; and domestic and sexual violence.

In the service of youth – making waves in youth work: This year’s Institute for Youth Work conference is taking place in Brighton on the 10th November, it will be an opportunity to both celebrate Youth Work Week and the conference theme: coastal youth work.  The conference is being co-hosted by the University of Brighton, and consequently one of the aims of the conference is to create a short paper on the unique nature of coastal youth work.

Suicide data from the UK and what does this mean for suicide prevention?  The latest data shows that there were 5,821 suicides registered in 2017 in the UK, and the number and rate has decreased for the third year in the row. The decrease has mainly occurred in men, and the picture is different for women with the number of suicides remaining stable. However, men still account for three quarters of all suicides. Also, rates are not uniformly decreasing for all groups of men; rates in some age groups are increasing, for example men aged 45-49.

Working together to safeguard children: statutory guidance myth busting

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has published guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) to clarify to relevant parts of the English statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.  They discovered that some parts of the guidance acted as a barrier to good practice and outcomes for children and families and can be made clearer, e.g. making it clear that family assessments of risk of harm faced by children are permissible as long as the unique needs of individual children are considered.

Topics covered include: individual child assessments; return home interviews; social workers for foster carers and children with long term foster placements; social workers for children in staying put; frequency of visits for social workers; and fostering and adoption panels.

The responses have been agreed by the Department for Education and their lawyers in consultation with Ofsted.

Suicide in England and Wales increasing among young people

The Guardian reports on figures that show the overall the number of deaths by suicide among those age 10 to 19 in England and Wales has increased by 24 per cent from 148 deaths in 2013/14 to 184 tickets in 2015/16. The number of deaths by suicide in the same age category increased by 107 per cent from 2013/14 to 2015/16 in London itself.

The Brent Centre for Young People in north London under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act requested the information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  The centre called for more investment in mental health services and education to prevent a “needless waste of young lives”.

Dr Maxim de Sauma, the chief executive of the centre, which supports more than 600 young people with mental health problems each year, said: “When young people with crippling or disabling mental health conditions are not given the support they need, it wastes lives.”

Read the full article here.

Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Tens of thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks including child sexual exploitation and mental health issues are missing out on vital support because of a “cliff edge” in support, The Children’s Society has warned.  They said that because there is no statutory requirement for councils to support children in need when they turn 18 they are often left without any help even though they remain vulnerable.

It said that there are currently around 58,000 children and young people aged 16 to 17 designated as children in need, who are in need of support but fall below the threshold for care proceedings.

However, the charity’s report Crumbling Futures found that just three per cent of closed cases involving 16- and 17-year-old children in need are transferred to adult services for support.  Key areas of support, that drop off when they reach 18, cover issues such as child sexual exploitation (CSE), mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The report states:

“Issues that young people referred to children’s services as 16- and 17-year-olds experience include domestic violence, mental ill health, drug or alcohol abuse and a risk of CSE, and often a combination of these issues”.

 

“In just over 50 per cent of cases of 16- and 17-year-olds referred to children’s services for support, these issues are deemed serious enough by local authorities and young people are assessed as ‘children in need’, recognising that without support from services the child’s health and development may be compromised.”

 

“Unfortunately, for many of these children the issues they struggle with are not going to improve or get resolved once they reach adulthood.”

The Children’s Society has called on government to broaden its review of children in need, which launched earlier this month, to include a focus on improving support into adulthood:

“While the review is focusing on improving how well children in need do in education, the charity wants it to look at all aspects of their lives where help is falling short”.

Other recommendations include ensuring that children in need and child protection plans for 16- and 17-year-olds last until the age of 18.  The charity’s report found that four in 10 child in need plans for the age group last for less than three months.

Councils should also be required to plan for young people’s transition from children’s services to adult services and take into account the possibility that support may be needed up to the age of 25.

Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said:

“Approaching adulthood can be a difficult, awkward, time for many teenagers, but it can be even tougher if young people don’t get the help they need to deal with serious issues in their lives”

 

“Help for vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who are not in care too often falls short then disappears from the age of 18 as they continue to struggle with issues including mental health, sexual exploitation, poverty and homelessness.

 

“The Children’s Society wants to see better support for children in need as they prepare for adulthood and a comprehensive package of help after they turn 18 – with councils given the additional money they need to deliver this.

 

“Only then will more young people get the vital support they need to ensure problems arising from their childhood are addressed and do not blight their chances of thriving in the future.”

Number of children in poverty increased by 250,000

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The number of children living in poverty soared by 250,000 in just one year under the Conservative-led Government, new figures have shown.

HM Revenue and Customs figures obtained by the Daily Mirror show the number of children living in low-income families rose from 2.5m to 2.75m between 2013 and 2014.

This meant that during the last Coalition Government the proportion of children living in families which have fallen below the poverty line reached one in five.

The HMRC report defined children in low-income households as those from families in receipt of out-of-work benefits or those in receipt of tax credits with an income of less than 60 per cent of the national average.

It said the figures were down to rise in lower incomes failing to keep pace with the rise in higher pay and insisted the data did not reflect a real terms fall.

But campaigners accused the Government of failing to protect vulnerable children.

Singapore government say education is not about the grade, it’s about learning

Exams

Singapore’s education system has long been criticised for the emphasis on grades over the learning process. But it looks like the Ministry of Education wants to make a bold statement to counter that.

It just launched a touching commercial based on a true story of a student and her teacher Madam Phua:

The video shows how Phua guided Shirley through a failing grade with Geography lessons. Both student and teacher continue to keep in touch today, according to the ad.

Celebrities recite poem about refugee crisis in powerful video

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Celebrities are taking a public stance to support the #WithRefugees campaign.

Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a video featuring several actors including Cate Blanchett, Keira Knightley, Kit Harington and Jesse Eisenberg, performing a powerful spoken word poem entitled, “What They Took With Them.”

Faith leaders call for revised refugee policy

 

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More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter’s demands.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former lord justice of appeal, has added her name to the letter, which is also signed by leaders and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

The interfaith letter follows similar initiatives by 350 judges and lawyers, who wrote to the then prime minister, David Cameron, last October; 120 senior economists in January; and 27 humanitarian and refugee organisations, also in January.

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Syria

Justin Welby - LordsArchbishop Justin Welby’s speech in today’s Lords debate on UK military intervention in Syria: 

My Lords I add to the welcomes to the Noble Lord, Lord Hague of Richmond, and note his perfect timing in bringing his immeasurable wisdom and experience to our debates, and look forward very much to his contribution.

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

Secondly, our bombing action plays into the expectation of ISIL and other jihadist groups in the region, springing from their apocalyptic theology. The totality of our actions must subvert that false narrative, because by itself it will not work.

If we act only against ISIL, globally, and only in the way proposed so far, we will strengthen their resolve, increase their recruitment and encourage their sympathisers. Without a far more comprehensive approach we confirm their dreadful belief that what they are doing is the will of God.

Thirdly, it is essential to defeat ISIL and other extremist narratives.

The Prime Minister’s strategy and the speech of the Noble Lady rightly recognised that military action is only one part of the answer. But there must be a global theological and ideological component – not just one in this country – to what we are doing, and it must be one that is relentlessly pursued and promoted.

And it must include challenging Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose own promotion of a particular brand of Islamic theology has provided a source from which ISIL have drawn a false legitimisation.

It must also show clear support for global mainstream Muslim and other religious leaders.

Finally, there is room and requirement for greater generosity in our nation’s hospitality to refugees. But hospitality must be accompanied by a clear strategy that reduces the need for others to seek sanctuary – and that was in the Noble Lady’s remarks and was welcome – and enables those who have fled to return. The communities that have lived there for 2,000 years should not simply be emptied from that region.

The additional military force we are bringing to this quasi-policing operation already active over Syria, symbolically and to some extent significantly adds to what is happening there.

But far more than that, it enables us to act where our resources and expertise are world-leading: in the creation of post-conflict peace and nation-building.

Only a holistic, theological and global policy will achieve our aims.

Another Council proposes to axe all its youth clubs

sutton-youth-centre-sutton-council1250-343x343It’s not surprising but frustrating to read of another Council proposing to close all its youth clubs.

Sutton Council said it has to reduce its annual £1.1m spend on youth and adolescent services budget as part of £74m of cuts that have to be made across the authority by 2019.  It is proposing to only maintain services that have to be provided by law. This would result in savings of £667,000, a cut of 60.4 per cent to the overall budget.

The council said that as a result there will be “no physical youth service”, meaning two youth centres will be closed and a third will instead be used for office accommodation. Meanwhile the borough’s youth parliament will also be axed.

The council said that statutory provision will mean the council continuing to support and track young people not in education, employment or training (Neet). Meanwhile a youth officer will become responsible for the oversight of youth provision in the borough and engaging with local providers of youth activities.

Wendy Mathys, chair of the children, families and education committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Unprecedented government cuts to our budget mean we have no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services we offer.  Our youth and adolescent services are a valuable resource and it is with great regret that we are having to make these changes.  It is really important that people have their say so we can understand what services matter to people. We can then work with our partner organisations to find other ways that our young people can receive the support they need.”

Sutton Council has launched a consultation on the proposals that closes on 13 December.