Opinion: A brighter future for our young people

PUBLISHED: 08:30 15 February 2020

Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, is implementing an ambitious agenda for young people in Newham.

Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, is implementing an ambitious agenda for young people in Newham.

Andrew Baker

Last week, I joined our new 40-strong team of dedicated youth workers who are now fully in place to deliver on the promise I made to the young people of Newham that we’ll be investing in them so they can reach their potential.

The team, including several detached youth workers who undertake our outreach work, represent the largest expansion of youth workers anywhere in the country and are a key part of our Brighter Futures agenda embracing the council as we transform the borough to become the best place for a child and young person to grow up.

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Headed by Geeta Subramaniam-Mooney, the first ever local authority Commissioner for Children and Young People in the country, our new Brighter Futures directorate will be driving the council's approach to youth safety, quality youth provision and early years health through a range of innovations which mark a massive step-change for youngsters in this borough. Coupled with a proposed budget that will, if approved, increase spending by £4.5 million a year for the next three years on services directly for young people, we'll be in a prime position to show the rest of the country what positive impact that scale of investment will make to the lives of our young people.

Newham Council is bucking the national trend, nationally the YMCA estimates youth services have been cut by 69 per cent in a decade and are set to reach the lowest point in a generation this year. Campaigners say the average spend on youth services per local authority plummeted from £7.79m in 2010 to a planned expenditure of just £2.45m next year.

With this new service, working alongside the Youth Safety Board, we will implement our ambitious and positive agenda for young people in Newham and provide extra support for their health and mental well-being, and produce programmes to keep our teenagers safe.

We are one of the youngest boroughs in the country but we had been letting our young people down. We have stopped the rot and are moving forward, taking our young people with us, towards a safer and brighter future where they can fulfil their potential.

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