Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Partnership Working

Today saw a good example of partnership in action. Earlier in the year Stockton Council decided, much to my surprise, that a small amount of money would be allocated in the Western Area to help with employment related issues. We were told that we could be quite creative in how we handled it but it needs to be spent by the spring of 2011. The Western Area Partnership Board set up a working group to make some recommendations - two Borough Councillors representing the 2 complete wards in the Area, a Parish councillor with experience of representing the community for many years on panels relating to health matters, and a community member representing a group which spans the whole area.
The group was supported by officers from Stockton Borough Council who have a lot of experience of handling funding across the Borough. The second meeting was yesterday and thanks to an idea taken from another area we came up with what we hope will be a really useful way of working in our area, supporting people who are starting to struggle with debts including mortgage payments but also the debts incurred probably by trying to have the same kind of family Christmas they had last year even though this year money is tight. By all sitting round the table and talking frankly about the area in which we live and the problems that some people will experience over the coming years of the recession we were able to leave party politics and cross-community issues to one side and come up with a really inclusive plan.
When I put it to the full board at last night's meeting it was welcomed by all, including those from villages which sometimes struggle to have their voice heard at Borough level. So the officers will now put together invitations to tender for the project and we move forward in January all being well.
At the same board meeting we heard of a rare success story from the Youth Service, with the youth club workers in Eaglescliffe going out to talk to older teenagers who didn't attend the youth club with the result that they're now part of the club and applying for funding from the "Playing Out" fund to access sports training and encourage other young people to take part in active play. The number attending has almost doubled - a real achievement especially as this is young people wanting to take an active part instead of hanging around outside. Well done Chris and others. There was also good news about the numbers attending the other clubs in the Area so perhaps we're going through that part of the cycle where young people want to belong to clubs, or perhaps the clubs are now providing the sort of activities the young people want. Only time will tell.

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