Friday, 29 November 2013

Strategic developments
This has been a really interesting and enjoyable week in which I have had several very important briefing meetings which will inform my writing the next "Young Surrey : Strategic review 2014/15" in February.

The key points are:

   1) The Cabinet Office under Nick Hurd has a team of people working on youth policies/priorities which are: young people’s Voice, Employability /skills, Youth social action (DoE, citizenship, volunteering and National Citizen Service) and local (youth ) provision.
    2) Surrey CC is reviewing the entirety of its Youth Service starting now, so that it can make “significant cuts” in 2015/16 onwards, whilst it seems that SCC funding for next year is reasonably secure. This review will affect ALL SCC youth work - grants, commissioned contracts, and internal delivery.
     3)  I have written a paper for "The Youth Consortium" to discuss with SCC proposing a Community hub model for centering multiple services around the young persons needs – for positive activities, careers advice, sexual health advice, mental health counselling/support, etc etc These ideas have been received well at County Hall , but its early days
    4)  Great emphasis is being put nationally  on the value of youth umbrella /membership organisations in counties and boroughs where they exist STRONGLY,  because of the leadership /representation role so that for central and local government the XYZ organisation (like Surrey Youth Focus) is valued as the obvious go to organisation.
     5)    Notwithstanding 4) in  West Sussex the County Council  is unlikely to value/pay for a reincarnation of West Sussex Council for Voluntary Youth Services having just cut its funding, and indeed WSCC are currently making 50 FTE youth workers redundant. BUT they would value…consortium building …promotion of social enterprises…social impact bonds…..promotion of young people into self-employment….All of which we are currently doing or have done, and by way of illustration...  
     6) Just appointed our first young Apprentice to the Surrey Youth Enterprise CiC this week , being our social enterprise in Leatherhead.

      My favourite season of Advent starts on Sunday! Mike


Friday, 22 November 2013

Information Dependency

The week has ended on a frustrating note as our otherwise excellent Cloud computing system crashed this morning because of a systems failure on the part of their chosen host server that was under cyber-attack. The net result was that I lost 3 hours of work this morning unable to get on to the computer. Of course this merely serves to demonstrate how fragile our information  infrastructure is.....must write that disaster movie script!

Information has been a key to this week. We sent out the highly regarded Surrey Youth News, including to our friends in West Sussex in case they want a West Sussex insert in the next (March) one. Similarly we have also sent out our first West Sussex e- bulletin too. I am meeting the Interim Head of West Sussex 's Youth Services on Monday.

I've written an important discussion paper for The Youth Consortium about the future of youth centre buildings/ centre based youth work for discussion with Surrey CC. The issues under discussion is the future of that contact. I am suggesting a NEW(ish) approach based on a mixed economy of community hubs (whether SCC or TYC) giving a "single doorway" access to a mixed economy of SCC/TYC services, depending on whichever is the most cost-effective provider. Importantly youth workers need to be the brokers/enablers to integrated services designed around the young person. Interesting models in LB Newham, Slough BC, and in Bucks. where youth centre buildings have been transferred to the voluntary sector. Met today with colleagues from LB Newham voluntary sector to have a very interesting exchange of ideas/papers in this field.

I'm also now moving the CommUniLAB project forward by getting ready to advertise the project worker- this is the information hub/exchange project funded by Barclays.

On the domestic front our new Vicar was installed on Monday, and I then chaired a public debate (50 people attending) about whether the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism,Islam, Christianity could live together , or would any relationship be undone by fundamentalism? It being Interfaith Week this week. The conclusions were: yes, and possibly- the challenge of the extremists to liberal democracy and religious tolerance. See also speech by Baroness Warsi (Foreign Office Minister)on this self same subject:

Christmas concert on Saturday : Handbells and the amazing 35 strong South Downs Ukulele Orchestra. Have fun! Mike

Friday, 15 November 2013


Delighted that our new Workforce development and HR adviser has stated with us - Natasha Parkin, who is a fully qualified CIPD person. Her role is to develop our services in relation to three workforces: adult volunteers( setting up youth clubs,volunteering,links to businesses/corporates)  young people (DoE, volunteering,apprentices, National Citizenship Service,) and youth workers (qualifications, CPD and arranging workshops). She will also be producing standardised templates on HR matters which member organisations can draw upon.The consequence of having  a team of five now is that we've re-arranged the office, and  bought new desks that wehad to assemble them ourselves - well, Kate and Su did! (Kate actually reads instruction booklets!).

We are also now working on our first e-bulletin to West Sussex voluntary youth sector, but taking it slowly because we want to get it right- we have inputs from SPARK(East Sussex cvys) and East Grinstead CVS amongst others.

I have opened up a line of communication to West Sussex CC about West Sussex issues - we have received legacy funding to undertake this leadership role - and I am keen to meet up with WSCC senior managers about the implications of the SEND agenda for example.

I'm also doing a fair amount of work for the Consortium about funding bids and more strategic developments. Interesting to hear about developments of partnerships, even mutuals in other local authority areas between statutory and voluntary sectors and business
 My personal highspot of the week was seeing the incomparable Bellowhead at GLive on Wednesday-huge fun! It will be All Black this week-end  I fear....

Friday, 8 November 2013

Abbott and Bishop

Well my doubts about the England Rugby Team against Australia last week were confounded at Twickenham, as England won, but the performance was not much to shout about despite the crowd (including me) being ready to cheer/sing any good moves.   Maybe better tomorrow against Argentina...

My week began unusually at home with us entertaining Bishop Martin of Chichester Diocese for breakfast. The occasion was that the Bishop was visiting the Deanery (groups of 12 parishes/22 church buildings)) where I live, and as I'm Lay Chair of the Deanery Synod, and the Rural Dean had just moved house it was sensible for us to be the host.  So,an Abbott and a Bishop....

Very useful briefing on Tuesday by the CEO of our national body NCVYS who came down to see me about various matters. The Cabinet Office is apparently reviewing relations between the statutory and voluntary youth sectors and some London Boroughs are forming mutuals/partnerships between the local authority/voluntary/business sectors to address the needs of young people. Interesting hybrid model.

I have begun developing our links into West Sussex under the legacy programme agreed with our sister organisation WSCVYS which has now closed. I've established a link with West Sussex CC's CEO (who I know from old)  and will talking to his colleagues shortly, and then  following up with local focus groups in West Sussex. Our first West Sussex e-bulletin should go out next week.

Met on Thursday with the CEO of East Surrey FE College in Redhill -  a superb university style campus, and great learning environment for its students. The meeting was about running workshops for young people aged 16-24 about How To set up in self-employment/social enterprise.Great interest. We're running one of these workshops in Woking on 3 Dec. Contact me for details. Our "Surrey Youth Enterprise CiC"  is currently recruiting 2 level 3 Apprentices in Customer Services (See NAS website for details).

Surrey Youth News is about to go out next week, and I have to do some work on West Sussex, CommUniLAB, and the Consortium.

Meanwhile tomorrow (Sat) we have a Staff/Trustees awayday to work on our general strategy for 2014-17, starting with a video from Surrey CC's Assistant Director about what he'd like to see us doing - SCC being a key funder and stakeholder. Lunch in London on Sunday. So even the week-end is all go!Mike"