During my time as High Sheriff of Staffordshire, I have met many inspiring individuals and visited numerous charities that are doing amazing things every day to help, support and guide the people in our county. It is because of this, that I am currently in the process of developing a number of projects, which I believe could leave a sustainable, lasting legacy in Staffordshire beyond my tenure.
To identify projects, I have been working closely with The Head of the Youth Offending Service in Staffordshire. The aim of the youth justice system is to prevent offending and re-offending. Staffordshire Youth Offending Service (SYOS) comprises staff from statutory partner organisations (Health, Children’s Social Care, Police, Probation and Education) who work together in operational Hubs in Lichfield and Newcastle. These Hubs are bases for staff who work across the South (Lichfield) and North (Newcastle) of the county. The primary purpose of SYOS is to improve outcomes for children, prevent offending and enhance community safety.
Initial discussions with SYOS and the Head of the Youth Offending Service have been extremely positive, and we already outlined two potential projects:
Project 1: Work experience for young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
This project will target children aged 16-18 who are not in education, training or employment and who are known to the youth Offending Service. The Head of the Youth Offending Service and I will work closely with local businesses to offer learning and work experiences lasting between six to eight weeks.
As part of the project, mentors will be recruited to build positive relationships with the young people and motivate them to complete their placements. Pathways to future learning following the completion of the work experience will also be supported by the mentors and the Youth Offending Service.
Project 2: Community Guardians
In recent years it has been nationally recognises that young people today face many risks posed by individuals or groups within communities, who target the most vulnerable within our society. To deal with these issues, this project would look to set up a network of local businesses and statutory services that would work within local communities to identify and safeguard vulnerable children. These would be given ‘Community Guardian’ status with an identifiable ‘logo’ that children can recognise and know they will be safe and protected.
To discuss these projects in more detail and determine their viability, I invited a number of notable figures from organisations and businesses from across the region to my home on the 2nd October. These included Sue Arnold, Deputy Commissioner for Police; Fire & Rescue; Crime; Kath Perry, Chair of Staffordshire County Council; Phil Pusey, CEO of SCVYS; John Henderson, CEO of the County Council; Hazel Williamson and Simon Scott from SYOS; Steve Adams, CEO of Community Foundation; and Pat Russel, County Chair of Staffordshire Scouts Association.
The discussions went very well, with all attendees seeing the many benefits these projects could bring. I’m extremely positive about the future – during my tenure as High Sheriff of Staffordshire and beyond – and am looking forward to working with these inspirational people, and the wider Staffordshire community, to make these ideas a reality.