Jeremy Corbyn pledges support for Youth Services

A CYPN article - web link‘Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to fight for statutory youth services if he is chosen to head the party.’

Children and Young People Now have published, on 11.8.15, an article about pledges and commitments made by Jeremy Corbyn.

‘Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn pledges statutory requirement for youth services.
Islington MP Corbyn, who is ahead in the polls to be next Labour leader, said his party should maintain a commitment to a statutory youth service in order to offer young people the benefit of wide-ranging advice, guidance and support to access further and higher education.

His pledge comes just months after Labour ditched its commitment to statutory youth services prior to the general election.

The party’s Youth Manifesto for the 2015 election ruled out forcing councils to provide a minimum level of youth provision, committing instead to a “root and branch” review of youth services should it win the general election.

Corbyn’s pledge to pursue statutory youth services featured in a youth policy document published yesterday.’

SmithMartin Partnership – working with communities

Parent Champions’ Training for Family and Childcare Trust

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Parent Champions’ is a volunteering project established by the Family and Childcare Trust and has become hugely successful in the last seven years.


As one of their trainers for the project I have been in Newham on a cold Friday in February at the Little Sheringham Children’s Centre to work with a group of volunteers who will make contact with parents in the community and provide them with the way to find out information.

‘Parent volunteers who spend a few hours a week linking with other parents, to tell them about local childcare and other family services. Being parents, they can chat in a more informal way and share information and their own positive experiences about using local services. They meet parents in all sorts of places such as playgrounds, markets, libraries and local play groups. They are supported by the local authority, a children’s centre or a local community organisation.’ Family and Childcare Trust website.

Based on the premise that ‘ word of mouth’ is a good way to spread information, this project has proved that it does two things really well; one is to let people know what is possible for the their family, and two, to realise potential in the volunteers themselves as they gain in confidence and in skills.

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As I was about to leave the training in Newham, Stephen Timms, the MP for Newham walked in to the centre. A real accolade for Children’s Centres being at the heart of the community


Sue Martin SmithMartin Partnership LLP- Bringing a light into communities.

2 year olds… Are we ready?

1Free Entitlement for 2 Year Olds

From September 2014 the number of 2 year old children being able to access funded places increases to 40% , reaching out to those who are most in need. They will be able to access up to 570 hours over the course of the year of free early education and care.

Much is talked about ‘school readiness’ and there is a growing feeling which wonders if schools are ready for 2 year olds?

Our partnership offers support and guidance to providers. Our professionalism in Early Years can bring a pragmatic perspective and creative pedagogic approach to 2 year olds.

There is a large amount of research, including the EPPE project which identifies the importance of quality education and care at an early age. This is the parameter on which this project is founded, and the intention for children is to help ‘narrow the gap’ between the more and less advantaged children in our society.

Children will receive more support on social skills, communication and speech development and in areas of personal, social and emotional care and learning, which will forge strong foundations for future learning.

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Free childcare offer for 2 year olds

playFamily and Childcare Trust has released details from recent research which shows that thousands of two year olds in England may be missing out in the free entitlement to childcare.

The programme to give 40 per cent of England’s most deprived children high quality early education by September 2014 has not met its target. While 74 per cent of these children have been placed in nurseries and with childminders, there are big differences between local authorities in the proportions of children receiving free early education.

In London just 51 per cent of eligible children had been placed by November 2013. There are 37 local authorities where less than 60 per cent of eligible two-year-olds had been placed by November 2014, of which 25 were in London.

Anand Shukla, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “This flagship policy is vital to the long-term outcomes of England’s most disadvantaged two-year-olds and to close the attainment gap between more advantaged and disadvantaged children.

“We know this is a challenging ask but local authorities must deliver on this policy. They need to make sure that local children’s centres are fully utilised and funded to provide the necessary places for the two-year-olds who are missing out. They also need to take advantage of the time-limited offer of grants and other support available to them from central government to expand provision.”

Much work to be done to ensure that parents can access childcare for two year olds, and have a reasonable choice giving quality childcare.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – working with the Early Years Agenda

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Labour plans for universal childcare

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Ed Milliband has pledged in his new year message to pursue the policy of universal childcare for all pre-school children and to make childcare a priority, if elected as Prime Minister.(Guardian 30 December 2013).In a Guardian interview the shadow childcare minister, Lucy Powell, said of free universal pre-school childcare: “I’d love it to be [introduced]. My job is to make the political and economic case for childcare, not just the childcare offer that we have right now but an extension of that. I am absolutely firmly of the belief that if you invest in childcare it pays for itself over time because it increases maternal employment rates.”

In the SmithMartin Partnership, childcare has always been seen as one of the most fundamental needs of young families. Over the last 5 years it has increased in cost and the argument for developing universal childcare which is affordable and accessible for all remains highly important.

The case for universal childcare was indeed a key part of the previous Labour Party initiatives and with the development of Sure Start provided a platform for a major plank of Early Years programmes for quality Early Years education.

Naomi Einsenstadt developed the concept of Sure Start within the Dept. of Children, Schools and Families, and the move into Sure Start Children’s Centres.Image 1

Good quality childcare enables young children to receive good early years education, to reduce the effects of poverty and to give families a vision for the future.

We hope that this recent statement from Labour will turn into a reality.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing communities together

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Child Rights Partners

Image 2‘Children and young people are to be involved in designing and delivering services aimed at them through a partnership between Unicef UK and six local authorities.’

Children and Young People Now, reported this initiative between Unicef and six councils across England. A ray of light for young people and a way to enable their voice to be heard.

The Child Rights Partners project aims to put child rights at the heart of public services and will prioritise improving services for the most vulnerable children, including those living in care, living in poverty and young people affected by drug and alcohol misuse.

Over three years, the six councils spread across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will work with young people to tackle different problems.

These include:

  • Tower Hamlets will involve young people in designing substance misuse services
  • Derry will focus on arts, sports and positive play
  • Glasgow will focus on two service areas: developing a rights-based approach to services for care-leavers and early years
  • Leeds will improve service provision for looked-after children, ensuring that their entire journey through the social care system is rights-based.
  • Neath and Port Talbot will focus on vulnerable families where the parents have drugs and alcohol, domestic violence and mental health issues.
  • Newcastle will adopt a rights-based approach to tackling child poverty.

David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK, said: “Public services have sometimes failed children and young people by not listening to their opinions and needs, so we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with these pioneering local authorities.’

Article taken from Children and Young People Now 20.11.13

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing communities together.

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A Quiet Revolution

Image 1What happens in communities when funding for projects is cut back? When plans and development for new centres no longer happens and the traditional means of support is withdrawn, what is the real impact?

Image of Granard Children’s Centre with Maggie Darling, Daycare Trust event at Speaker’s House, London.

Many community based projects started to improve people’s lives and increase opportunities, especially in areas of need, have seen major cut backs in the last two years.

Many projects are still continuing, even without the support that was originally in place. People are people, and in England the spirit of togetherness and helping each other still exists, plans are still taking place.

Quiet revolutions have happened before, a film from Soka Gakkai International shows that even one person’s actions can make a dramatic difference. Narrated by UN Sec. General Kofi Annan and narrated by Meryl Streep, this prize winning film is worth a look.

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…feeling powerless to affect the crisis facing humanity, many do nothing.

But a growing number of ordinary people are carrying out a quiet revolution.”

Our partnership, SmithMartin Partnership LLP, works directly with people in communities, we are committed to providing support and enabling achievement and aspirations.

There is a real sense of a quiet revolution, which continues the deliver the good work, to support families and young people, a revolution to bring people together but in a quiet and non demonstrative way.

From experience people do feel ‘let down’ by authorities that had been so supportive and now have changed directions. But a sense of community togetherness has been engendered and working together to support each other has been enhanced.

The Sure Start Children’s Centre initiative is a good example and recent news in ‘Children and Young People Now’ indicates there is a reduction of over 400 since the coalition government was formed.
But of those 400, only 25 have actually closed and London has been the worst hit. Many centres have been combined and formed into clusters with one leader and reduced staff across the cluster, but the work, the contact and the initiative still continues.

Centres in London that we work with have seen major reductions in staffing which has inevitably led to some activities and services being reduced. But the centres are still vibrant and diverse communities, offering provision that is most needed by their families.

Looking ahead with a wider perspective…. there are opportunities to apply for funding for community projects and with the right organisation and structures in place chances exist to support projects, to encourage attainment and aspiration to help people’s lives.

A future through this quiet revolution is possible and will happen through people just like you and me.

Sue Martin

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Daycare Trust and Family Parenting Institute to form one new organisation

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The Daycare Trust and the Family and Parenting Institute are to merge under a new name from next year, the charities have announced.

(Image courtesy of Daycare Trust)

This is exciting news for all involved in childcare and the needs of families in our country. Whilst retaining all the excellent campaigning and research arm of Daycare Trust, there will be direct linkage with the needs of families and parents from the Family and Parenting Institute.

Now,when so many families are finding life harder than ever,the new organisation will have enormous scope for improving lives.

Chief executive of the Daycare Trust, Anand Shukla, will lead the organisation from January 2013, when a new name and brand for the charity will be launched.

“I am very excited by the opportunity of leading the combined work of two organisations which have such a significant track record in campaigning for childcare and families, and which have both succeeded in securing concrete improvements in policy and service delivery,” he said.

Congratulations from SmithMartin Partnership LLP

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High Rents and Nowhere to Live

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The storm around the benefit cap to start in April 2013 made some good headlines this week. The expense of living in rented accommodation at that price is hard for everyone.


We welcome the comments made by Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent in London in Sunday’s Observer. A brave decision to voice real concerns and takes some conviction and an empathetic understanding for the families she meets.

Some of the free London papers were full of letters denouncing all who find themselves on benefits and living in expensive accomodation, when hard working people can’t afford rents at over £500 per week.

There is no escape that this is a considerable rent charge. But is it the only answer, not to pay people benefits. Most of the rented accommodation is private, the owners are the real economic winners. When there was more social housing, for example, accommodation was easier to find and at a more realistic rent, or could there be a cap on rents to be charged?

Certainly the consequences in April will be large, the thought of disrupting family life by a major move to lower rent areas across the country is hugely problematic with moral concerns for all those in the implementation.

Schools in many areas are already being affected, large increases in pupil numbers in areas where children and families have been moved.

A winter of considerable discontent ahead for many.

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