Friday, 25 October 2013

A Better Start for Newcastle

Newcastle is one of 15 places in England shortlisted by Big Lottery to invest up to £50 million over 10 years on services for pregnant women, their partners and families with babies and toddlers up to the age of three.

Big Lottery will select up to 5 of the 15 sites for this massive injection of urgently needed money. The City Council, Children’s Services, NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Voluntary Organisations, parents and others are working hard to produce a winning strategy which must be handed to Big Lottery by 28th February 2014. The winners will be announced in June 2014 and hopefully the money will begin to flow shortly after.

Back in March Newcastle City Council selected Children North East to lead this application. We have been working very hard with the City Council and many others since then. I am delighted that together we have got to this crucial final stage. Now we need a final big push!

Leader Nick Forbes and Joanne Kingsland, Lead Member for Children are fully behind this application; both spoke at an event in the Civic Centre on the 2nd October for parents, local services and professionals to explain Newcastle’s bid and engage them in it.

Each of the 15 shortlisted sites is receiving support from Dartington Social Research Unit (SRU) paid for by Big Lottery. Dartington SRU is based in Devon but known internationally for innovative work to improve public sector services.

Amongst the support provided by Dartington SRU is a confidential local survey by BMG Research, an independent research agency. BMG researchers are currently going door to door in Walker, Byker, Elswick, Bewnell and Scotswood wards. They want to talk to parents of children aged 0 to 8 years to find out what they think about local services for children and families, what is good and what could be better.

Dartington SRU will be running a two day workshop with the Newcastle Partnership to shape our application based on solid data about local need and the latest research about what works to ensure every baby and toddler get the best start in life.

The final applications must be submitted by 28th February next year and the winners will be announced in June. Big Lottery say they will select between 3 and 5 sites who will each receive between £3m and £5m a year for up to 10 years to improve support during pregnancy and for parents of babies and toddlers up to the age of 3.

If you would like to know more about the Newcastle application, please email my colleague Sylvia Copley here at Children North East:

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Peer Mentoring in Schools

Newcastle Youth Link is a Children North East project that is branching out into schools across the City to engage with more young people. The programme will be training young people who have a passion and desire to help their peers overcome difficulties in school and elsewhere in their lives too. Once trained (and our training programme is accredited by OCN so that volunteers can gain a level 2 qualification) the peer mentors are 'matched' with their mentee whom they meet once a week. They advice, guide and assist the mentee to reach their personal goals, things like completing homework or getting involved in a new activity at school or making new friends.

The school programme is currently being piloted in Kenton High School. Children North East has already trained 8 School Peer Mentors who are starting to support their peers as the new school year begins. For example peer mentors helping to induct the new year 7’s, showing them around the school, and making them feel more comfortable with the new environment.

A second programme is about to start in Walbottle school, and with the aspiration for the Newcastle Youth Link to be a presence in every secondary schools across the City.

During the last year Newcastle Youth Link has trained and supports young people aged 18-25 as mentors for young people in schools. Peer mentors are currently based in both Heaton Manor and Benfield Schools. We expect to be active in a lot more Newcastle schools during this academic year.

The future of Newcastle Youth Link is looking bright and exciting as the new School Youth Link model is set to really make an impact on the lives of more and more young people all over Newcastle.