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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Must do, nice to do, hope it goes away…….

It feels like the Christmas break was a very long time ago now, but as it’s still January I think I can just about get away with wishing everyone a happy new year.

I’m working my way through the list of things that I told myself can wait until January (come on we all do it!!). I do have a method to it though, “must do”, “nice to do” and “won’t do and hope it goes away”. I hope our colleagues in central government departments are also cracking on with their ‘to do’ lists for 2022. I know on the ‘must do’ list will be some important policy areas such as the reviews into social care and SEND, levelling up, supporting families and mental health, but I also sincerely hope that a coherent national approach to youth makes its debut this year.

We often face challenge, as local authorities, that we don’t understand the benefits of youth provision. This is not true. We know that good quality youth work delivery, at the right time and place, can head off many challenges that young people may subsequently face with mental health, engagement in education, family conflict, offending, and risks around exploitation to name a few. Whilst I don’t readily wish even more statutory responsibilities for us, I would whole heartedly support a fully funded statutory duty to secure a baseline of youth provision.

Of course, I welcome the recent funding for the youth sector through the Youth Covid Support Fund and the Youth Endowment Fund, but we still await confirmation on how the £500 million new Youth Investment Fund will be rolled out, with its implementation having been delayed by over two years and funding due to be spent before the end of this parliament. Statements to date seem to indicate a focus on capital, and whilst buildings of course have their place, they are little use without sustainable revenue funding for a youth workforce of people who can build the trusted relationships needed. So, at every opportunity I will be advocating for an ambitious and cross department governmental response, and with some urgency if we truly want to see a levelling up agenda that addresses young people’s lives. The youth agenda won’t go away, isn’t just a nice thing to do, and is a ‘must do’ priority for 2022.

In my first ever blog for ADCS four years ago I focused on Wonder Woman and made comparisons in terms of the leadership we needed. We all have people in our lives whom we look up to and learn from. Sarah Caton was my real-life Wonder Woman and I never thought for one second I would be mentioning in my blog about the very sad loss of our dear friend and Chief Officer of ADCS. I, alongside many of you, attended her funeral last week. Rachel Dickinson, previous president of ADCS and a special person to Sarah, gave an incredible and heartfelt tribute on behalf of us all. I had one job on the day and that was to arrange transport for some of us (including some past presidents, a policy chair, and our current vice president) to travel to the service. The taxi company were sweet and said they would send a vehicle that could accommodate us all. Ok – so I should have checked what the vehicle was, but I cannot describe accurately everyone’s faces as we all arrived in an old lime green school transport bus!! We all agreed that Sarah would have been very amused.

Sarah’s family and close friends were so warm and welcoming of her wider ADCS family and it was very comforting to be able to share memories and stories…which brought tears but many smiles too. We will dearly miss Sarah both professionally and personally, but I know her imprint of tenacity, passion, bravery to stand up for the right thing, and enormous sense of fun will stay with us as we continue with her legacy and strive for a country that works for all children.

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