I have just read Jon Jollys post about the ongoing cuts to the services here in West Sussex.
As he rightly points out, it is a challenging and difficult time for all practitioners and managers within the service. The YSDS has already been reduced by £2m and we are now being asked to reduce the service by another £2m by March 2012. The service is currently consulting with residents & young people about these cuts and this closes on the 14th October with the select committee scheduled for the 4th November. Young people from the youth cabinet are meeting with the Cabinet Member and Director of Childrens Services to discuss these changes and input their views and thoughts about the future of the service.
Whilst this is happening we are also trying to bed in the new service which has seen significant changes in the way we are delivering and who is delivering our services. There has been a big upheaval for staff with many (including myself) being asked to change roles and operational areas. Staff are also uncertain of their future and are also being asked to deliver services in new and different ways. They are all working incredibly hard to deliver the best services for young people through these constant changes. Jon mentions the lack of communication and consultation with the community and young people over changes to the night a club opens and the staff delivering it. I agree that this should be the way we are working but have to put my hand up and admit that at the moment the fact that some of the clubs are open at all given the numbers of staff we have is a feat in itself. I oversee a different area of the county and know that I have been involved in making decisions about when we can open a club and who will staff it in isolation to the community and young people. This is partly down to the fact that with the need to further reduce the service is not recruiting new staff, any vacancies are managed internally which impacts again on the number of staff we have available so we are incredibly stretched.
Staff are also feeling devalued as their profession and years of training appear to count for nothing alongside a government agenda that believes volunteers can replace them. With staff stretched to deliver our own targeted and prevention services there is less time to support the voluntary sector as we used to at the very time they need that support to deliver universal services.. They (and communities I talk to) continue to be frustrated by this.
So where are we headed? Personally I am currently reviewing the services I am responsible for with the teams I manage whilst also making every effort to talk to the local communities and involve them in the decisions we have to make. In little over a month we should have a clearer steer on the way ahead which will need more planning and organising.
On a national level at a time of increasing youth unemployment, unrest and lack of opportunity the very services that could support young people are being decimated. It seems obvious to me (and many others across the country in similar positions) that these cuts are happening too rapidly and are unsustainable, by the time the government realises this will there be anything left to rebuild from?
In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it. How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?
This is a key aim of West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!
Courtesy of Icelight
I initially wrote this in early September since when work has increased considerably however I thought it was still a useful reflection in these rapidly moving times.
“I’ve just returned from my holidays and started back at work and it’s all happening with a vengence! After numerous consultations (staff, user groups, other agencies and partners) and the proposals for the restructuring of the youth service facing the Council Select Committee twice we have now started statutory staff consultations. A great time of upheaval for all the staff who have worked tirelessly over the summer on a variety of youth programmes and continue to deliver excellent youth services.
Alongside the consultation we are developing sub projects around the new shape of the service. On the brink of the changes it is interesting to think about how much the service will actually change. In discussions with colleagues we felt that the new challenge, as well as supporting and working with everyone concerning the staff reductions, alterations in the delivery of services etc. will be in trying to think differently.
Having been presented with a new organisational structure I found myself automatically thinking “oh, that means that we will have x ” based on our current roles and responsibilities. I had to challenge myself to look at other ways in which we could deliver our services and how new roles might work. I have recently had similar experiences with staff .”
…. New thinking is an ongoing challenge which we continue to work on at the moment at all levels. So the question is…..how much of a “new world” will there be?!?
We’re in the final run up to the overseas part of the Inspire India Programme. I talked about this Targeted Youth Support programme more fully back in February in this post. Last Monday I went up to London on a quick return visit to get the final visas for the last few members of the group. We’ve been really successful in keeping nearly all of the original group of young people who have made enormous efforts to get themselves ready for the experience. 30 young
West Sussex Youth Service Inspire India 2009
people from across West Sussex have been involved in the taster weekend and then less than 4 weeks ago we had the Challenge Weekend residential where they were camping at our campsite in Stedham. During the weekend they hiked, cooked for themselves and learnt more about Indian Culture. Working with Staff from Raleigh and West Sussex Youth Service they tested out kit (rucksacks, water ‘bladders’, boots) and also got to know each other better.
Everyone has been preparing for going and on Monday we are having our kit check and ‘launch’ to wish the group good luck. The group will be checking in their kit and then turning up on Friday with their hand luggage ready to go! We had a last minute drop out yesterday (even though we have been taking to them all regularly and offering lots of support on the telephone and by text.) So we’re now just trying to sort out a last minute replacement with quick visa runs on Monday and vaccinations as required…..let’s hope they make the plane!
Netbooks have been brought and charging them solved, we hope! So, if you’re keen to keep up to date with the group and their adventures then please do tune into the West Sussex Inspire India Blog to find out how they’re getting on.
Last Saturday evening I went to the first Young Peoples’ celebration event for those young people involved with West Sussex Youth Service in Worthing. It was a great evening with over 100 young people coming together to enjoy and celebrate their work, play and involvement. The staff hadn’t anticipated quite such a big turn out (after all it was a Saturday!!!) which meant a last minute shuffle for chairs and finding space for the latecomers. As a ‘first’ it was a great step forward and hopefully next year more young people will be involved in planning and delivering the event now that they’ve got a taste for it. Here’s a brief look –
I’ve finally got the chance to write about the amazing residential weekend we had a couple of weekends ago. As I mentioned in a recent post, we’re putting together a targeted youth support programme for young people which includes an overseas experience in India run in conjunction with Raleigh. To that end we were up really nice and early the other weekend to meet at Cobnor to put a group of 14 staff from across West Sussex County Council through their paces. Our aim – to find 5 people who could lead, facilitate and develop the group of 30 young people that will be taking part in the programme. Here is a snippet of what they went through.
The weekend was a great success and we found our 5 staff. Other unexpected outcomes was the positivity everyone experienced working across different services. We had people from the Youth Offending Service, Family Link workers, Social Workers, Voluntary Youth Services and more and they all fed back that they had enjoyed the chance to work together as a team on practical tasks during which they got to know and understand work with young people from a different perspective. Definately food for thought as we move forward with integrated services! It’s the young peoples Taster Weekend next and then that’s me done for a while on residentials……..hopefully I can then refocus on the day job!!