Consultation with children and young people was a key part of the development of the new Children’s Services Plan. GCVS Everyone’s Children Project staff were involved, along with agencies from across the city talking to over 1,000 children and young people, with parents and third sector staff between mid-Nov and end Jan 2020. The key issues that emerged were:
- Poverty underpinned all priorities.
- Children and young people were concerned about feeling safe in their environment.
- Many felt that healthy food cost more than less healthy options and some said that they couldn’t get healthy food where they lived.
- Children and young people wanted access to affordable activities and play facilities
- Children’s Services should have a strong focus on mental health
- Parents wanted family support services to be accessible, and available for all types of families
- Parents of children with Additional Support Needs were concerned about gaps in the network of out of school services and respite services and the transition from children to adult services.
- Young people in care were sometimes felt that their voices were not heard. They were also concerned that kinship carers were treated differently to foster carers
- Many thought that there should be better partnership working and communication between agencies:
Life changed dramatically under the Covid lockdown, which began in March 2020. To update the issues, we drew on views of over 600 third sector staff attending GCVS Covid events and a national survey of third sector organisations.
There was general agreement that the pandemic had ‘supercharged’ inequalities and increased the gaps and challenges faced by people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, one parent families, carers, low waged families, and children in poverty.
- There were particular concerns about the future employment opportunities for young people and those with disabilities
- Many organisations were concerned that the lockdown hid domestic and child abuse.
- Many felt that the poverty related attainment gap would be increased by the pandemic
- There were widespread concerns about the impact of lockdown on young people’s mental health
- Home schooling was a particular challenge for children with additional support needs such as ADHD or ASD.
- The digital divide was one of the biggest issues emerging from the conversations. This was hardly mentioned in the pre-Covid consultation but emerged starkly during lockdown
- All thought that many families were struggling to cope due to lack of money, lack of mental health support and lack of childcare.
- All stressed the importance of working in partnership with other voluntary sector organisations and with statutory services ‘Partnership working is important as we continue to support the community during and beyond the crisis
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