Please find below comments on the Devon Youth Service Review submitted on behalf of the partners in Devon Voluntary Action.
Devon Voluntary Action is the partnership of 6 local voluntary sector infrastructure support organisations. The response below is based on our collective understanding and our ‘on the ground’ knowledge of voluntary and community activity within the majority of local districts in Devon.
Within the context of the drivers for this review, which DeVA acknowledges, if the County Council wishes to realise its vision that “….Young People can expect
· Access to information, advice and guidance about the things that are important to them;
· Their voices to be heard through effective participation, engagement and consultation mechanisms enabling them to be active citizens
· Access to affordable universal, open access provision in order that they have somewhere to go and something to do;
· A targeted service that reaches those most in need of additional support “
then the support and involvement of Third sector organisations will be vital.
The sector in Devon is a vibrant one and, as is acknowledged, already plays a significant part in supporting the delivery of your services.
If DCC are to realise a remodelling of youth services focusing on delivery to those most in need of support, then consideration must be given to recognising the contribution of the third sector (and not in a tokenistic way) and supporting third sector groups to improve sustainability and skills within the sector.
Alongside setting expectation of what is in (or out) of any service offer from the third sector matched to flexibility of where that offer can come from (ie not just youth clubs), the support required to underpin a sustainable, vibrant third sector contribution to youth service delivery will require funding and resources.
In our view the support should provide assistance to groups on
· probity of groups – ensuring they are well run and robust so advice on governance, quality standards
· sustainability – advice on funding, volunteer recruitment and management and, for a transitional period, financial support and additional capacity building resource to ensure groups delivering the services are fit for purpose.
· workforce development (for staff and volunteers)
· specialist advice specific to supporting young people, safeguarding etc.
· facilitating continued engagement between the county council and the third sector
With a well supported and robust third sector then DCC provision can be targeted to appropriately.
When commissioning services, we would urge the council to consider when it is appropriate to issue block contracts or agreements, especially if the requirement is for more targeted activity to fill gaps.
Devon Voluntary Action members are the CVS organisations in
East, Mid, North, South Hams, Teignbridge and West Devon
It is certainly true that that many voluntary sector youth organisations struggle to get and keep volunteers, and that they would not be able to take on what DYS provides. In Moretonhampstead we have a Scout Group, which provides a regular evening for some children, but they do not appeal to everyone. The point about DYS provision (delivered in partnership with our youth association) is that it is for everyone, it provides a reliable and professional level of support for vulnerable young people, and it is tailored to the needs of its users / members (in our case, in a purpose-built environment).
As the Youth Officer for the Church of England in Devon we have 100’s of youth activities and events running across the county every week. over 40% of a workers are qualified and professional youth workers. There is a huge opportunity here to work collaboratively. I would welcome any discussions aimed at how we can achieve a greater, positive impact with the youth of Devon by working practically together.
Paul Reisbach, Diocesan Youth Officer
DEVON’S YOUTH OFFER: SUBMISSION by VOYC (DEVON)
I write on behalf of my Board of Trustees (see list of members below) and the VOYC Devon (VOYC) membership. The following Statement was agreed at the Board meeting on Wednesday 25th September.
VOYC welcomes the announcement of the next stage of the review of the Youth Service and in particular the proposals for an engagement process with the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Whilst we understand that change will always be seen as threatening, we believe it is important that the review remains focussed on meeting the needs of our young people and utilising all the resources available.
We support the reasons for the review in terms of the increasing focus on young people most in need of services as well as responding to the Ofsted report; we would also accept that with finite resources this review must be about making the best offer for young people utilising the resources available, which should include utilising the resources in: the community; the voluntary sector; other agencies and within young people themselves.
We support the need to listen to the views of young people and act upon them. Furthermore, we would encourage more enterprising approaches to youth work such as that of the Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (DFYFC), which involves young people in running their own youth service. This is an excellent example of partnership working between the Local Authority (LA) and the VCS and can be seen as an excellent investment by the LA, which could, and should, be replicated more widely.
We note that the proposal outlined within the Devon’s Youth Offer – Our Vision is ‘to engage on the development of a targeted youth service’. Whilst understanding the need for this we feel that there has to be clarity as to the resources that will be available to support the Universal offer together with a clear understanding of the transitional support that will be required to bring about these changes. Support will certainly be required for those other agencies that provide the Universal offer in the future, ensuring that they have the skill set and capacity to deliver as outlined on page three of the Our Vision document. It is very helpful, therefore, to be able to learn from the experience of others as helpfully outlined in, ‘A Return to Ancient Truths’.
With the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 all services commissioned by public authorities must demonstrate social value and social value has to be incorporated into the design of the service. We would therefore ask that when considering how to evaluate the all-round contribution of potential providers, the LA ensures that potential providers demonstrate how their operational model could contribute to efficiencies and give added social value to the service. VOYC would be keen to show/advise how the VCS can and is adding social value
We, the Trustees, believe therefore that VOYC is well placed to make specific representations on behalf of our members, in response to some of the key issues that you pose within your Vision for Devon’s Youth Offer. We would like you and your officers to take these points into account and for them to be given serious consideration when you are reviewing the feedback from your consultations.
Our submission is based upon previous communications, including our submission in autumn 2012 following last year’s consultations, which set out the role we might play with regard to providing infrastructure support for our members and the wider VCS for children and young people and consultations with our members regarding their needs; they relate to the following, all within the context of the key messages of ‘Positive for Youth’, particularly an extended role for infrastructure support organisations like VOYC and an envisaged enabling/facilitating role for LA’s.
Background VOYC Devon
VOYC (previously VYS Devon) is a well-respected specialist infrastructure network for those voluntary and community sector groups that work with and for children and young people. Established in the 1960’s VOYC is a diverse and rapidly growing network (24 New Members since April 2013) of national and local voluntary and community organisations that work with and for children and young people. The current membership includes 24 network organisations; these include Devon Scouts and Girl guiding, 130 Individual youth and community organisations that work with and for young people and 30 affiliates such as Devon Community Council and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. All these together support a network of just over 2500 local groups/organisations supporting work with children and young people.
VOYC is the only specialist provider of Infrastructure support for the whole of the children and young people’s voluntary and community sector within Devon, and is widely recognised and respected as the ‘Lead Body’ within the sector. The Organisation has an excellent track record of delivering Infrastructure Services ensuring that the VCS have the skill set and capacity to deliver effectively. Our work is increasingly in partnership with a range of other providers, evidenced by the fact that VOYC is currently actively involved in the:
• Devon County Council (DCC) Infrastructure Contract as a provider in partnership with the network of CVS’s.
• DCC Targeted Family Support Programme in partnership with the CVS network and Devon Advice Network.
• Roll out of Safeguarding Standards for the VCS in Devon in partnership with Children England and the NSPCC.
The Support required enabling the delivery of effective services in the VCS
The implication, in the strategic vision paper entitled ‘Devon’s Youth Offer’, of concentrating on outreach approaches to ‘Positive for Youth’ priorities has some merits. But this approach must be balanced by the recognition of the general needs of young people. Furthermore, if existing Youth Centres are to be managed in future by local communities and/or other agencies (and we believe that every effort should be made to explore these possibilities), we need to develop these centres as ‘Youth and Community Centres’ to make them viable. This, in turn, has the added advantage of positively addressing the increasing problem of Great Britain’s increasing generation gap.
For there to be others delivering Universal Services in the future, there has to be support in place that enables other providers, such as that the third sector, district and town councils to do this. There will, we believe, also require a well thought through programme of transitional support through the change process. The support needs of voluntary and community organisations are well documented by National Infrastructure Bodies such as NAVCA and NCVYS and this is supported by our experience and on-going needs analysis of our own membership. We would suggest that these sources indicate that there is a range of support that local voluntary and community organisations require to be in place to enable them to become established, to thrive, and to develop. These are as follows:
• access to practical help (advice, information, training, fundraising, financial management, and community development consultancy and facilitation for new and existing groups;
• a body to act as a voice for voluntary and community sector youth work, representing the sector on the Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) and being an advocate at the Children’s Provider Engagement Network;
• guidance on standards of good practice such as the Safe Network Safeguarding Standards recently endorsed by the DSCB;
• an interface with funders and the development of VCS consortia and partnerships;
• the provision and coordination of networking and community development opportunities;
• supporting the development of new and innovative work with young people including citizenship, volunteering and participation projects;
• Workforce development, including support for volunteers.
• Advice and guidance on self evaluation and assessing the impact of work with young people
We would also like the LA, officers and staff, to recognise more fully and widely that the VCS sector contains very many highly experienced and professionally trained practitioners (both paid and voluntary). These include significant numbers of JNC qualified Youth Workers and a range of other professionals in areas such as Health, Youth Offending and Domestic Violence. Our members are not only providing ‘universal services’; a great many are providing ‘targeted services’. We would like greater recognition of this and a more universal recognition and respect within the LA for what the VCS currently does in this regard. With the right kind of support and investment, the VCS sector can do a lot more.
Through investment in the VCS you will also be accessing the considerable resource and expertise within Devon’s other VCS Infrastructure organisations such as the Regional Youth Work Unit and national VCS organisations devoted to young people’s services such as NCVYS, Children England, UK Youth, and the newly formed National Institute of Youth Work – all of whom are recognised and who are being harnessed and funded to carry out important work by the Government to help deliver the Positive for Youth Policy at national level.
Whilst recognising the reality of the County Council having to face budget cuts over the next four years we would urge the Council and all of us to also give greater emphasis to income generation. In fact, we would broaden this recommendation to work in partnership to embrace this and the development of a policy of resources generation with leadership across all the sectors/stakeholders We would wish to contribute some ideas and proposals at some future stage in this consultation process.
We welcome the review and the fact that it has included consultations with young people, staff, schools and voluntary sector providers. The engagement opportunities for the voluntary sector and communities are particularly welcomed as we believe that it is essential that the County Council make sure we get the most from all the resources available, including community resources. It is essential that we build on existing strengths and expertise within our communities to establish a local offer that is sufficient to meet local needs and improve young people’s wellbeing, personal and social development. We look forward to seeing your detailed recommendations and would offer our continued support through this process; indeed, we would wish to make a full contribution to the strategic planning and co ordination of services in the future.
Finally, we have always believed that the Youth Service is a partnership between the voluntary and statutory services. It should be a partnership which, at its best, operates as a seamless garment. In our view, neither is more important than the other and both have a crucial role to play. Ultimately, however, it is not whether something is voluntary or statutory that is important. What is paramount is that we must meet the needs of young people. For this reason we must work more closely together and further develop partnerships with other agencies and within communities. This, above all, will lead to more effective ways of meeting their needs. It is the least that our young people deserve.
VOYC Devon Trustees
Paul Allan (Chair) Independent
Karen Acott (Vice-Chair) Independent
Nick Creasy (Treasurer) Devon Young Farmers Clubs
Anne Bowser – Wings South West
Peter Brewer – Bank Youth Project
Lyn Brown – Community Action South West
Penny Hammond – RAMM
Rachel Henderson – Participation Matters
Simon Hewett-Avison – Teenage Cancer Trust
Karen Jones – Active Devon
Steve Keable – Community Action South West
Kerstin Neason – Barnardo’s
Julie Phillips – Independent
Paul Reisbach – Diocese of Exeter
Sophie Ross – Pre-School Learning Alliance
Frances Walsh – North Devon Homes
As a member of Young Devon I would welcome the opportunity to further develop targeted provision with the Youth Service as a voluntary sector group that are currently offering a targeted provision to young people. This is through our Youth Enquiry Services (YES), sexual health and relationship surgeries, counselling service, young carers, supported housing and lodgings, skills and development work. Young Devon has established, professional and experienced teams working through out Devon and into Plymouth and Torbay. We have met a number quality standards and have clear governance over the work we deliver.
We have attended the consultation events and these appear to be focused on the generic youth work that is currently under threat .
I am interested in further developing links with Devon Youth Service through opening up communications that will enhance the skills of our services and workforce. Young Devon delivers targeted Youth Services with young people 13 – 25 some in crisis and some looking for solutions to prevent homelessness, furthering deterioration in mental health and sexual health and relationship work.
We have often toyed with the idea of sharing resources, good practice and building relationships. The voluntary and statutory youth services are in serious threat and and we have to respond as we know what the outcome for young people will be if we don’t.
I have read your background information and challenges for the future. I could not see where our how the youth service was going to engage with voluntary sector organisations such as Young Devon although there is reference to sports, and uniform organisation.
I can hope that this area of work will be discussed further into the process challenges faced by the Devon Youth Service.
Is there a mechanism for checking the accuracy of comments posted here please?
I am very concerned that the voluntary engagement days have been released – with less than two weeks notice – and 2 out of the 4 are being held in the day time. The chances of full participation from colleagues that volunteer in the third sector to run these youth clubs will be minimal as majority will be busy working in their paid employment. Surely these events that are also there for young people to attend, and the Youth Service provision covers 13 – 19 year olds, need to be held in the evenings. This will allow young people to attend – the afternoon sessions they will be gaining an education and will not be able to attend. Is this really a fair process to get a true reflection of how the voluntary sector feel they are going to take on the role of Devon Youth Service or are you purely relying on VOICE to take over this role – who, is my understanding, have little or no interaction with YOUNG PEOPLE.
You state this is a fair open and honest process – you really don’t make it seem that way when you are disadvantaging the voluntary sector in 2 out of 4 dates released. And please the voluntary sector can ill afford, unless the volunteers themselves pay for their travel, to send their volunteers to other venues that are in the evenings – that is not an option in majority of the cases.
Less than two weeks notice to attend these engagement days is also totally unrealistic and another question raised as to whether or not you really do want the honest input from this group – as I strongly believe it would go against what your agenda is with the future of an excellent DYS service, which supports the voluntary sector extremely well – both financially and also in teaching valuable skills.
If by VOICE you mean VOYC, then yes we do make representations on behalf of the sector, based upon the feedback we get from our 175+ member organisations. But this should not stop individual organisations making their own additional representations if they so wish and VOYC recommends that you do this. It is also worth noting that VOYC is a network of organisations that provide a wide range of excellent services directly to young people. To see the diverse range of this provision go to our website http://www.voycdevon.org.uk
Paul Allan Chair of Trustees
I feel increasing frustrated when the term the third or community sector is used in relation to the delivery of youth work. I believe that when policy makers and others use this term they are referring to organisations which have an infrastructure. I do not believe that this umbrella term even acknowledges the small voluntary youth groups, started by 1 or 2 parents in a local community.
I admire the energy, enthusiasm and passion that local people put into organising provision within their own communities. That said, I have to make comment with regards to the number of youth groups / clubs which have started only to close within a relatively short time frame – Why, because it is increasing difficult to find people (and they need to be the right people) who have the time to volunteer.
This is a fundamental flaw in a community’s ability to even enter into the localism agenda. People in 2013 are BUSY people and many of who are working hard to cover the increasing cost of living. That coupled with the demands of family life leaves little time to volunteer. It is my experience that there is normally a small group of people within a local area who have multiple volunteering roles and therefore, their time is also short.
Youth work is a complex process which requires skilled and trained people to deliver it. Devon Youth Service supports a number of our voluntary sector colleagues in this area to ensure that provision is robust and safe for young people to use.
There also needs to be the acknowledgement that working with young people will almost certainly raise issues in relation to safeguarding. Again, this is an area of support and advice that is offered by Devon Youth Service.
Any youth offer to the young people of Devon needs to be a safe one and one that has an element of regulation. Any remodelling of the Devon Youth Service needs to acknowledge the robust role that it has played in supporting our voluntary sector partners and where they can expect to get professional advice and guidance from in the future.
Devon Youth Service provides professional advice guidance and training to many voluntary sector group youth workers – what plans are there to support the voluntary sector professionally in the future? There are many voluntary groups out there at the moment but in fairness there aren’t that many specific voluntary youth centres – most voluntary groups fall into the category of uniformed organisations and youth sports both of which will already have access to support from their own professional bodies. Young people are all different and not all of them want to attend sports or uniformed clubs – they just want somewhere to meet their friends and socialise. Voluntary youth clubs can work short-term but only with a very dedicated team of volunteers that have specific training and help – many voluntary youth clubs fold after just 18-24 months as volunteers realise the challenge of running a youth club is too much.
as someone that works within the voluntary sector – specifically the Scout Association, I am aghast that they believe the voluntary sector could pick up the statutory provision. As a volunteer, my time is taken with endless training, and working with young people that choose to be part of the movement – not driven there as there is nothing else! I am not and am not qualified in giving out condoms, dealing with a young person that is pregnant, and I DONT WONT TO BE. What will happen is if Devon County Council believe that the voluntary sector will pick up their generic work then volunteers will leave in their droves – leaving young people with no provision at all. Uniformed organisations are NOT the same as the local youth club. How many, including Cllr Mumford, of these that are driving this review have been into the voluntary sector and run a uniformed sector provision one night and then run a provision in the local youth centre? The needs and requirements of the young people in both are completely different and qualified adults – those that have chosen it as a profession, are the ones that need to deal with the young people that go into the DCC run youth centres. Young people need them – they have no where else to go. Before driving this forward – have you considered that young people may not want to attend their local boys brigade session – where will they end up – on the streets in trouble – oh yes then they will fit into the so called ‘targeted’! I really hope full consideration is taken into how the volunteers in the voluntary sector will react (and that will be with their feet in the opposite direction to what is expected of them) and they have a plan B!