Welcome from Yvette Stanley, Merton's Director of Children's Services
It is always a pleasure and a privilege to discuss issues, big and small, with our young people. And, it is always enlightening to hear young people’s new insights into old issues, as well as to learn about their lived experiences and the myriad of pressures on young people today. I could not introduce this edition of Young Merton Together without acknowledging the tragic events that took place in Manchester on Monday 22 May, and very recently in London on Saturday (3 June), and without inviting you to hear the words of compassion and condolence expressed by Merton’s Youth Parliament in their letter to Manchester which was sent during the days after the earlier event.
I am sure that you will agree that their words represent the sentiments of the wider Merton community, and that, while written in the light of the Manchester events, they also relate to the more recent tragedy - “after all is said and done, the young people in Manchester and the United Kingdom will lead the way and show the world how we stand together for a brighter and safer future”.
This edition of YMT celebrates the direct work with children, young people and families, undertaken by staff in all our Children’s Trust organisations:
We work hard to engage and enable young people to achieve better outcomes and to play a positive role in their lives and the lives of the wider community;
We are committed to closing the gap in educational outcomes and opportunity for our children and young people, to give them a foundation of knowledge and understanding on which they can build throughout the rest of their lives: Merton offers every child a primary school place; Merton supports young people with English as an additional language to access education - SmartChoice; and Apprenticeship participation increases in Merton.
Our ‘Early Help’ offer aims to deliver early help and improve outcomes for those subject to the effects of disadvantage: Early help for Merton's children and families; New children’s centres offer April 2017; New commissioned services for children and young people; and Merton early years children are ‘school ready’.
And, under the theme of ‘safeguarding children and young people’ we have the following updates: An update on the key priorities of the MSCB Business Plan – Early Help, ‘Think Family’ and ‘Adolescents’; Tackling child sexual exploitation; A multi-agency approach to ‘Neglect’; Identifying and safeguarding ‘Children Missing from Education’ (CME); ‘UK says No More domestic violence or abuse’ campaign; and Private Fostering week 3-7 July.
It just remains for me to thank you for your daily work and commitment to engage and support children and young people, and provide them with great opportunities to enjoy their lives and to achieve to their potential, while supporting them in challenging times.