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Often when it comes to safeguarding, only the negative stories make the headlines. However, there are positive stories where people have seen transformation take place and people's lives impacted for the better. Here we want to highlight one of these positive stories.

Thirtyone:eight’s mission statement includes a commitment to encourage society to stand against oppression and exploitation by striving to raise the standards in safeguarding practice. As part of this commitment Thirtyone:eight sponsor certain awards.

In 2020 we sponsored the Safeguarding Award at the CYP Now awards. The 2020 winner for this award was Inspire North/Foundation.

Inspire North aim to create a world where everyone matters. They set out on this journey in 2018 when they brought together the work of Community Links and Foundation, two charities with decades of experience in mental health and housing. As a parent organisation they bring together this expertise and find innovative ways to provide the very best for the communities they serve.

Young People’s Pathway

Foundation nominated Young People’s Pathway for the 2020 Safeguarding award. Young People’s Pathway is a multi-agency service across North Yorkshire for young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Young people can find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness for many reasons. Research shows that adverse housing and economic and family issues have impacted disproportionately on young people. According to Shelter: ‘many young people do not know where to go when they have housing problems.’ This means that young homeless (or at risk of homeless) people are already vulnerable and are at risk of abuse, harm, exploitation, and poor mental health.

This risk has been exacerbated by the Covid and lockdown events of 2020. According to Homeless Link, since the nationally enforced lockdown in March 2020, ’national youth homelessness helplines have reported a doubling in calls during the Covid-19 lockdown, many from young people trapped in abusive households.’

The Young People’s Pathway network provides support to reconnect young people with their families where it is safe to do so, and accommodation and support for up to two years where homelessness can’t be avoided. So far more than 700 young people have been supported in this way.

Young People’s Pathway uses two pathways to prevent homelessness:

  1. ‘Prevention and Reconnection’: short-term support to enable young people to stay in the family home, or access emergency accommodation (for up-to 14-nights) followed by up to 6-weeks of follow-on support.
  2. Managed accommodation and follow-on support for up to two-years. They have eight hostels and over 100 units of move-on accommodation.

The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown

The Covid-19 lockdown had a significant impact on delivering Young People’s Pathway services. It limited the normal face-to-face contact with young people and only allowed a limited number of employees in hostels to maintain a safe service. The lockdown had a huge impact on many of the young people as being able to get out helps them deal with their complex needs, giving them structure and a routine to follow.

Throughout lockdown there were many occasions where young people have just not coped, leading them to turn back to alcohol and drugs as a coping strategy. In these situations, employees had to intervene and involve the support of social services to protect the young people from harm.

Despite the extraordinary, unprecedented situation they found themselves in, Foundation and their partners in the Young People’s Pathway continued to maintain safe and effective service delivery, putting the needs of young people at the heart of the way they have prepared for, and continued to work during lockdown. During the early pandemic from March until June 2020 Pathways safely supported 167 young people in the service.

The importance of safeguarding

Safeguarding their young people is of paramount importance to the work that Inspire North and Foundation do. The vulnerable, complex and sometimes chaotic nature of the young people that they support heightens their risk of harm and means they need to ensure that they have robust safeguarding processes in place to ensure that they keep young people safe from harm.

Despite the unique challenges presented over the Covid-19 period, Inspire North and Foundation have been able to maintain a high level of quality support. Staff have continued to innovate to ensure they meet the needs of each of their young people. They are now able to provide extended support through a variety of mechanisms such as WhatsApp, Skype and socially distanced visits.

One service manager at Foundation said: “We are supported housing but within that safeguarding is the main thing we do. We support young people who may have been abused, missing, living on the streets and provide them with a safe environment to grow into adults. We help them to look positively at life and feel that there is a future for them.”

Entering awards

Derren Hayes, editor of CYP Now, said: “The CYP Now Awards celebrates the very best in services for children, young people and families. Last year, there was a record 650 entries from organisations, teams and individuals across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Every entry is assessed by a panel of expert and young judges, so to be shortlisted is a great achievement.

“To win one of the coveted awards, like Inspire North did, can really enhance the reputation of a project or service. Thanks to the support of Thirtyone:eight and all of our sponsors I’m delighted that the CYP Now Awards will be running for a 16th year in 2021. I would urge all Thirtyone:eight members to take up the challenge of entering the Awards this year.”

To find out more about the CYP Now awards go to: www.cypnowawards.com

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