Improved Youth Service is launched in Tower Hamlets

Youth Service re-launch -7

Performer at Youth Awards event

An improved youth service offering eighteen youth hubs delivering free activities to thousands of young people across Tower Hamlets was launched at Haileybury Youth Centre in Stepney, alongside an awards ceremony to recognise the achievements of young people in Tower Hamlets.

The service has been transformed following serious failings uncovered under the Government’s Commissioners in 2014 and 2015 which included failures to follow procurement rules, in governance and in transparency; and a failure of staff to declare interests in organisations benefiting from contracts.

Tower Hamlets Council subsequently appointed two investigators to look into allegations which resulted in the dismissal of eight members of staff and disciplinary action against another. Five staff also resigned.

A police investigation is currently ongoing.

Over the past year, the council has rebuilt the service with a new vision and processes to ensure high standards in governance, procurement and the tracking of performance results. New targets and outcomes, along with new training for staff, have also been brought in to drive up standards. 

Young people have been involved to help create new values, priorities and a youth brand which will appear in youth hubs and on the uniforms of Youth Workers.

Tower Hamlets Council is one of the highest spenders on youth services in London.  This year’s running costs is £4 million and thousands of young residents (aged 12-19) will have free access to activities including sport, games, arts, music, along with state of the art facilities including music recording studios, hair salons, climbing walls and ICT suites.

For older children, there will also be sessions to help them learn about the dangers of drink and drugs, bullying, social media and sexual health matters.

The council funds eight directly delivered youth hubs which are open from 3.30pm to 9pm (weekdays), and a further 10 commissioned youth hubs which are open for 15 hours a week each (weekdays and weekends). They are supported by 37 full time youth workers.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:

“Our young people are incredible and investing in their future will make Tower Hamlets a better place.

“When I became Mayor it was clear the Youth Service had serious problems. There was a lack of transparency and mismanagement of funds which was picked up by the Government’s Commissioners.

“Since then an outstanding collaboration between our youth workers and our young people has created a service.

“We have one of the youngest populations in the country so it is crucial to give our young people opportunities to improve their futures and contribute to the success of our borough.”

Fahimul Islam, the Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said :

“When I was elected as Young Mayor I promised I would make every effort to make Tower Hamlets a place for all young people to aspire, believe and become. 

“It has been a great experience to work with the Council’s Youth Service to develop the new outcomes, pledges and branding that will really help give opportunities to young people in our borough.”

Sharon Long, Director of Partnership for Young London who worked with Tower Hamlets on the redesign of the youth service framework, said:

“We really welcome the approach taken by Tower Hamlets to protect and develop their investment in young people and we look forward to being part of this work as it goes forward.

This is a proactive opportunity to recognise the skills and assets of young people, and work with them to improve their lives. It illustrates a longer term vision that these young people are the future of the borough and that a range of services are needed to support their transition into adulthood and build a better future.”

Councillor Abdul Mukit MBE, Cabinet Member for Culture and Youth, said:

“We have listened very carefully to what young people have told us they want from their services.

“They wanted better facilities, with opening hours they could use; along with information and advice about issues that matter to them such as education and employment.

“I’m delighted with what we have achieved already and look forward to seeing the youth service grow and develop over the next year.”

The council provides three specialist services for LGBTQ, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), specialist arts, young carers and one to one support for the most vulnerable young people.

The Council referred all matters of a criminal nature to the police. Alleged issues taking place prior to 2015 include staff failing to disclose interests in organisations being contracted by the council; breaches of financial and procurement regulations including payment to organisations before services were delivered; failure to disclose secondary employment, failure to disclose criminal convictions, failure to provide DBS checks and misuse of a council building.

More information on youth services is tower hamlets can be found here

 

Posted on Wednesday 14th February 2018