A proposed new direction for youth services in Calderdale

Published 22nd May 2020 by Shaida Khan

​A proposed new approach to youth services, which would help boost the health, wellbeing and skills of the most vulnerable young people in Calderdale, will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 1 June 2020.

The recommended changes would:

  • Bring the Council’s youth services up-to-date and ensure they continue to meet young people’s needs
  • Make the best use of innovation and digital technology
  • Harness the valuable contribution of Calderdale’s vibrant voluntary sector
  • Ensure limited resources are targeted where they are needed most

A recent review by the Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board recommended a new direction for youth services, focused on supporting Calderdale’s most vulnerable and deprived young people. This would help improve their health, wellbeing and resilience; raise their skills and aspirations; and give them better access to education, training and job opportunities.

Talent and enterprise are two of the key qualities that make the borough so special, and are themes of the Vision2024 for Calderdale. Innovation has especially shone through the COVID-19 pandemic, as the need to provide youth services virtually has sparked creative new approaches, including virtual youth work drop-ins and social media support. Using Government funding, the Council is in the process of ordering 600 laptops for vulnerable children and young people.

Many youth services are already delivered by voluntary and faith organisations. The proposed new approach would support and train small, local voluntary groups to expand or start youth activities, targeting the areas of highest deprivation and in line with social distancing rules. This would enable the Council to focus on supporting the most vulnerable young people, such as those at risk of school exclusion, involved in criminal activity, with a mental illness or those who have been exploited.

Although the Orange Box Young People’s Centre in Halifax is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, its long-term vision is to remain as a youth work hub, using innovative approaches to meet the needs of a changing population.

There is a need to deliver savings in the Council’s youth services due to a reduction in Government funding. The proposed targeted approach to youth services, rather than the current open access, would ensure that the Council is prioritising its spend to help young people with the highest needs.

This would require a new staffing structure to enable qualified youth workers to focus on improving outcomes for the most vulnerable young people, and using virtual methods wherever possible. Cabinet Members are being asked to approve a 45-day staff consultation, which would start in June 2020.

Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:

“Our priority is to ensure that young people across the borough are safe, healthy and successful. To help achieve this and our aim to be the best borough in the North, we need our youth services to remain relevant to young people now and in the future. That’s why we’re looking at more targeted and innovative approaches, including working in partnership with our amazing local community groups.

“Open access to youth activities would be commissioned in our areas of highest deprivation. As we cannot do this whilst social distancing measures are in place, we are utilising creative and virtual approaches to services.”

The Cabinet meeting on Monday 1 June will take place virtually for social distancing reasons. It will be live streamed through Calderdale Council’s YouTube channel from 6pm.


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