Welcome from Yvette Stanley, Merton's Director of Children's Services
I would like to introduce this edition of Young Merton Together by drawing attention to the week of activities which we ran, here at Civic Centre, to mark the ‘Stop CSE – National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) awareness day’ 18th March: Zero tolerance of child sexual exploitation.
Merton’s Children’s Trust is committed to the fight against child sexual exploitation (CSE) and our week of presentations, speeches and discussions illustrated the hard work of partners across the borough – including the council, the voluntary and community sector, health and Police - to tackle this issue. It also demonstrated the wealth of support and expertise that is available, and the clear importance of listening to children and young people in order to shape services which will minimise risk, build young people’s resilience, and provide effective support.
I also wanted to mark the fact that his year's World Social Work Day #WSWD2017 which was held on 21 March promoted community and environmental sustainability. This theme resonates with our local systemic model for social work and our integrated approaches as a "One CSF (Children, Schools and Families)" children's services department, as well as with our work across the wider Merton Partnership, to build strength and resilience in the communities we serve: narrowing gaps; promoting health and economic well being; and improving education outcomes and enabling young people to develop the skills for life long learning which provide better life chances and life choices for the adults of the future.
It is also the theme of working together with key partners and organisations across the borough for all communities, which was evident in the council’s response to the tragic events in London’s Westminster on Wednesday 22 March: Merton Council lowers flags to remember all involved in Westminster attack and in the Faith and Belief Forum statements of 23 March 2017. I can only echo the sentiments in these statements and reiterate the Children’s Trust’s key values of local accountability and partnership, as well as equality, equity, inclusion and valuing diversity.
This edition of YMT helps us to reflect on a great number of successes in our work over the past few months: Under-18 conception rate in Merton reduces by three quarters in less than a decade; Celebrating Success: Achievement in Merton Schools; Merton engages young people in education, employment or training; Adoption in Merton - an update; Merton Foster carers survey – positive results; Jigsaw 4u celebrates its 20th year; Merton’s Kids First – now one of the longest running and largest membership forums for parents of children with SEN and disabilities in London; and the successful MSCB and CSF Joint Conference, Behind Closed Doors: Working the Complexities of Domestic Abuse.
On the theme of safeguarding we have the following updates: Together we can tackle child sexual abuse; the role of the Local Authority Designated Officer; Merton well-being model; Signs of Safety and the Merton Practice Model; Child House; and Prevent Guidance.
On the theme of health we have the following updates: the Annual Report of Merton’s Director of Public Health; Progress Report on Health and Wellbeing Strategy priorities for Children and Young People; British Nutrition Foundation Healthy Eating Week 2017; and Family Nurse Partnership - extending eligibility criteria.
And, as ever, we have a raft of stories from schools celebrating the opportunities and innovative approaches on offer to children and young people: Secondary schools: Cricket Green, Raynes Park, Ricard’s Lodge, Rutlish and Wimbledon College. And, primary schools: Haslemere, Poplar, SS Peter and Paul, Stanford, and Wimbledon Chase primary schools; and a joint venture with Pupils dancing at the Royal Festival Hall.
It just remains for me to personally thank all staff and practitioners across Merton’s Children’s Trust organisations, for your hard work and commitment, which is making a difference to the lives of children, young people and families.