The first meeting of the Childen, families and young people Provide Led Group (PLG) took place on 9th June 2016.
This was very much a scene setting event with an explanation on the rationale to creating the themed PLGs. This was a local voluntary and community sector led initiative to improve on the existing voluntary sector forum’s ability and to ensure that providers were better informed and connected to the issues that impacted them and their users. The new PLGs were to be voluntary sector driven, shaped around both user and provider needs, and create the space to network, develop ideas and build intelligence to enable providers to respond to policy initiatives and enhance their service delivery.
Terms of reference were agreed. An election for a new PLG chair should take place at the end of 2016.
Following the main business of the PLG, members took part in a short focus group on the development of "Southwark Giving" – a place-based giving campaign which loosely follows the model of the successful Islington Giving and Hackney Giving campaigns.
The second meeting of the PLG took place on 22nd September 2016. Details of the consultationon on youth and play strategy had been circulated to PLG members on the understanding that views were being taken until 20th September. It was reported that the deadline had been extended to 27th September and there was still time to complete the online questionnaire. The levels of response were good but the Council was keen to get as many views as possible to inform their decisions.
The Council was also in the process of refreshing the Youth Council structure. A paper was circulated to the PLG members who provided comments which were fed back to the Council.
The Children and Families Commissioning Team gave a presentation on the Southwark 16+ Accommodation and Support Project which aimed to deliver a refreshed preventative accommodation and support model for Southwark's young people in care, care leavers or those considered homeless. The aim was to establish a clear pathway for how young people accessed and moved into appropriate accommodation. This included improving the quality of the accommodation and support provided, encourage independence, provide realistic expectations and help sustainability, allow people to make mistakes and learn from them and for the system to be financially viable.
The next step in this work is to engage with young people and services users during August and September. The 16+ Accommodation and Support Report would be presented to the Council in October/November and then be followed by the setting out of a new approach.
The third meeting of the PLG took place on 2nd February 2017. At that meeting Kevin Dykes covered the Council’s initial thoughts around a new Child Sexual Exploitation community engagement project.CSE could be hard to spot, but that everyone had a role including Council employees, police, schools and social workers. The rest of the community and young people themselves had a role to play around developing conversations and involving parents and young people.
Voluntary organisations had an important role in knowing what signs to look for in identifying whether someone was at risk of CSE. Organisations could act as trainers to support other volunteers who were likely to encounter CSE situations. There was a need to understand what the voluntary sector did and provide the support that it needed to carry out this work. PLG members were keen to see a single point of contact at the Council for CSE and more online guidance and an enhanced role for schools. Kevin was keen to meet with groups on a one to one basis to receive their input into the plan especially around the outcomes and how these would be evaluated. Voluntary organisations would also have a role to play in delivering some of the outputs.
Aileen Cahill and Charlie Spencer provided an update on the recently approved activities strategy for young people and how this would relate to commissioned services later in 2017. The new strategy approved on 13 December by the Cabinet had five key themes comprising happy, healthy, active, safe and preparedness. The strategy had been tested with young people and families and feedback had been taken on board. There were a range of commitments which fell to a multi service and multi-agency team across the sector, including the authorities. The plan was to commission to deliver against the new strategy themes from 1st October 2017 to 31 March 2019. The strategy focuses on activities outside of schools and colleges that are open to all children and young people in the borough and the voluntary sector will have a key role in delivering these activities.
The Council was keen to translate the priority themes into activities that could be delivered and also measured in a reasonable way. This might be in the form of a framework that fits with the strategy.There would be an emphasis on co production and co creation.
The new approach was welcomed by the PLG. The PLG noted that there was a general lack of awareness of what activities were taking place within the borough. It was important to identify a route for accessible information that is regularly updated.
In order to take this work forward, Community Southwark would be hosting a morning workshop on 23rd February at which the Council would ask a series of questions on what worked, what activities and outcomes could meet the strategic themes and how this could be monitored and measured.
It was announced that Charlotte Gilsenan from Cambridge House had been elected as chair of the PLG which would take effect from the end of the meeting.