K Haswell and R Brown presented the update on YC Hertfordshire to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Cllr Pringle asked how vulnerable people were identified. K Haswell advised that they are identified through various agencies, including Social Care and Targeted Youth Support, Police, GP’s, schools and colleges, self-referral. We work with young people with LDD, care leavers, young carers, BME and travellers. Referrals can come from any agency that works with us.
Cllr Pringle asked if staff were aware of and trained in various autistic spectrum disorders, including how to identify pathological demand avoidance. K Haswell confirmed that they have a learning disabilities team, which all the personal advisors are trained and we have staff who run create a spark programme who are trained to the level they need to be to recognise certain traits in young persons. Also all those young people will have an allocated personal advisor to work with in tandem with professional range worker that runs the programme. The programmes are designed to work with young people that have different additional needs.
Cllr Pringle asked if a person is suspected of having an unidentified condition is there a facility to refer them for additional help. K Haswell said they would go back to the Learning Disabilities Team and talk to the personal advisor for any Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) has been turned down, we would put forward a recommendation that it was reassessed. Also as part of our statutory work on the advice and guidance side we provide all the preparation for adulthood part of the EHCP, so we will meet with the young person, we take into consideration their views and the views of the parents/carers. We prepare a legally binding document that is assessed and put into the EHCP as part of that document.
Cllr Hollinghurst queried the support provided to Tring and asked when this was going to be addressed and how can the offer be improved in schools which are academies. K Haswell confirmed that they work in Tring School and offer information, advice and guidance in a preventative service, we do a lot work with young people and then include them in the local youth offer. We do detached work in Berkhamsted and Tring on a Friday night and we often work with young people on the streets, we run street projects. As far as working with another organisation in Tring that would be through Tring School.
Cllr Hollinghurst said that it leaves Tring Town Councils contribution through the Temperance Hall out on a limb and quite a lot of public money has been invested it in, so could you broaden the offer in Tring to include the Temperance Hall. K Haswell said she would be happy to discuss this separately to see if there is anything we can do, but couldn’t promise anything due to budget pressures.
Cllr Pringle mentioned that The Swan Budget in Berkhamsted has a great reputation and is well valued by parents and children, but they are constantly begging for money including frequently asking parents for contributions otherwise they are going to shut down. Cllr Pringle asked if the funding for The Swan is secured for the future. K Haswell confirmed they are nothing to do with the funding and that they had in partnership provided a youth worker every Monday to run a session for sexual health, risk behaviour and healthy relationships, but have no say in funding for them. N Beresford added that in relation to funding, the service for Swan Foyer is similar to the service at George Street in that it is funded by Housing Related Support payments via Herts County Council, which is under constant review. Some of our services are provided by Housing Related Support funding and have been subject to between 5 and 10 percent cuts over the last few years, so any queries around the funding should be directed to Herts County Council Commissioning Team.
Cllr England asked if it was a problem with young people using foodbanks or presenting at your services and being hungry. K Haswell confirmed there was young people presenting as homeless or at risk of homelessness or in poverty and we would always support them to contact the foodbank. K Haswell also advised that they run an independent living skills project where we help with cooking on a budget, there is a training kitchen at Bennetts End, we encourage them to understand how to budget and there is some accredited units they can do, we also work very closely with any partnership that helps to support that young person. There is definitely a trend of young people coming in that are more at risk of homelessness than there has been in the past and there are young people that use foodbanks far more than they may have done 2 or 3 years ago.
Cllr England asked if YC Herts were able to refer young people to the foodbank. K Haswell confirmed they were able to refer to foodbanks.
Cllr Adeleke mentioned that on page 4 of the presentation it says that lost contacts are 37 and asked if that figure was for a year. K Haswell confirmed that it was and that they are tasked by the DFE to report back on every young person transition from year 11, 12 and 13, every young person should have an offer of education or employment when they leave school. We do lose contact with some young people but we do all sorts of things to find them, we use social media and we do door knocking, young people move on, they change their phone, if they leave school the school won’t always know where they’ve gone. We have a target for lost contacts and a target for NEATS as well.
Cllr Adeleke asked if the 37 target is for each year. K Haswell confirmed that each year they are given a target called the destination activity survey, it starts in July when the young person finishes school and tracks right through to December.
The Chairman asked if the 37 target is ½ percent. K Haswell said that it was. The Chairman said that about 7,500 young people per year that use the service. K Haswell confirmed that it was, anyone from 13 to 19 can use the service and we have to track year 11, 12 and 13.
Cllr Pringle asked if records are kept on the 37 lost contacts and what proportion are care leavers, have special educational needs or have come from at risk backgrounds. K Haswell advised that they do have that information and it can be analysed into which cohort that young person comes from, they generally tend to be the more disadvantaged young person that drops out and doesn’t have the wherewithal to keep in touch.
Cllr Oguchi enquired how success is measured with the programmes and how do you intend to improve the services in the near future. K Haswell said that they work very closely with young people and focus groups through the youth council to ask them what they want. We are tasked with looking after the more vulnerable groups and we measure success through working with young people, we do some 1 to 1 work to gain their trust, we do an action plan, we will broker them into the most suitable project, we use a tool called my star and that’s all within six weeks of starting with us and at the end of the project we would look to see how they have moved on, so that’s how we prove the journey of the young person. Success is measured by youth at risk, by not getting back into the criminal justice system and moving away from that behaviour, we encourage them to mentor other young people and we have also had youth support workers who have actually been to our projects, became volunteers and are now youth support workers. We also track young people and part of our tracking is making sure they are going on to something they achieve. Making sure they get into positive outcomes and being able to evidence that outcome. We very much have evidence of the journey of that young person. RB also mentioned that not every young person is going to successfully take that up at that particular time, for us our work is about relationship building, at some stage in the future a young person may very well come back and say that they didn’t take in on at that time but now I do understand it and can move forward.
The Chairman said that she sits on the Police and Crime Scrutiny Panel and is particularly interested in knife crime and wanted to know what percentage of the users are at risk of being involved, either as a victim or as a perpetrator and also she would like to understand how big an issue it is in Hemel Hempstead. K Haswell said that a huge percentage of young people who access the service are at risk of being a victim, we see more and more people coming through that admit they carry a knife for protection. Our youth at risk is kept separate because we don’t want to encourage any culture that young people think it’s a grooming programme for gangs, so we are very careful about who comes onto that youth at risk programme. People that are on the programme are low level perpetrators just in the bottom of the criminal justice system. Young people who are more at risk are not put on the programme, we would work with them and their social worker on a 1 to 1 basis. There is a lot more young people in fear of being a victim of violence than there are on our programmes with young people that carry a weapon. We have a zero tolerance on any weapon carrying and every young person is told when they start our programme if they disclose something that’s harmful to someone else, then we would inform the Police and appropriate authorities. We have had some real successes with young people actually stopping and realising the effects, but in answer to your question a much higher percentage are frightened of being a victim. R Brown added that young people that are referred to us, in terms of the early intervention work, then we would be doing things like school assembly’s or workshops so that we are talking and having that discussion with young people, kind of getting their mindset and maybe dispelling some threats, so it’s about education before we get to a drama situation. The Chairman said that she would be interested to contact you outside of the meeting to discuss what you offer.
Cllr Hollinghurst enquired about the offer with schools in Tring, that it’s been mentioned that you don’t work with them but you do work with The Swan and asked when will YC Herts start working with schools, some of which are academies and therefore more difficult for people to access. Cllr Hollinghurst also asked how the democratic deficit will be tackled so that Cllrs can become more involved in the work that they are doing. K Haswell confirmed that working with schools is completely separate to the youth offer and it’s a commissioned service for schools, meaning they buy our services, the youth service is a funded service. K Haswell said that they will work with any agency but they have finite resources and decisions were made when a restructure was carried out 2 years ago. K Haswell advised they were quite happy to work with the Swan and if they came and asked them to do work, if she has the staff and you have young people, we can come and asked Cllrs to get in touch with her for a discussion.
Cllr Pringle asked about the young people that are untraceable or who had undiagnosed ADHD/Autism type disorders or people with such disorders who didn’t actually have an education health and care plan, if you found that the situation with the notoriously long waiting lists for CAMHS and also the shortage for educational phycologists in Hertfordshire has had a direct impact on accessibility of young people with special needs having their needs met, simply because there hasn’t been the resources to properly assess them. Cllr Pringle also asked if they found young people more vulnerable because of the lack of access to services and the lack of provision of educational phycology. K Haswell said that it certainly makes them more vulnerable and is why they were tasked in setting up the supporting you programme, which is a pre-trans programme which is for young people who aren’t with CAMHS or with an educational phycologist. We also offer a CBT programme. There is definitely a shortage in Hertfordshire including staff in YC Herts and it does have an effect, anxiety levels are increasing in young people.
Cllr Pringle felt that CBT with young cohorts that doesn’t include the very most vulnerable who, would you agree, they are often at risk of not having their needs met at all through the system because of the lack of resources to determine their needs and has that got worse in the last couple of years or has it remained as bad as it was around 2016. K Haswell replied that the waiting list for CAMHS has increased, anxiety levels in young people are higher than ever, there aren’t the services to provide support, hence the reason we are now a targeted service.
The Chairman asked for clarification on whether that was due to a lack of facility because resources have stayed the same and the anxiety levels have increased or vice versa. The Chairman remembered when she was at school there was never this topic of mental health in young people, there was 1 or 2 in a school of 1,000, whereas now she is aware that the percentages are much higher. We need to understand if it’s the vulnerability that has increased or whether people are more aware of it or whether it’s a resource issue. K Haswell said there was less resource, YC Hertfordshire have had budget cuts, there is more awareness of mental health issues and young people and their parents are far more self-aware. We are also more aware of the issues young people are facing, also an awful lot of issues could be dealt with in the home if parents knew how to parent.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe said there had been a lot of comments about lack of resource, quite often you don’t need extensive resources to improve a service, innovation will help a service deal with those issues, also the amount of publicity that is being given to mental health in young people and she was glad to know that they can come to YC and get the help they need, that is to be welcomed.
The Chairman said it would be good for us to have K Haswell and R Brown’s contact details as a lot of Cllrs that are quite interested in what you do and it would be good to invite you back to Committee periodically to get updates. The Chairman will arrange with Member Support.