The draft All Age Skills Strategy for Central Bedfordshire is now available on the Central Bedfordshire Council website.
The All Age Skills Strategy recognises the importance of skills to businesses, individuals and the local economy. It has a fundamental role to play in fulfilling Central Bedfordshire’s economic potential through effective partnership working.
The document outlines some of the background to the development of the Strategy, including reference to relevant policies and information on the current skills performance of Central Bedfordshire.
It also contains some suggested priorities and areas of activity focus which have been shaped by the feedback from the workshops, focus groups and in-depth interviews that have been held over the previous months.
Like to get involved?
Give us your views by completing the online questionnaire here.
We will be accepting feedback on the draft strategy until 28 October 2011. We will then collate and utilise this feedback to produce the final All Age Skills Strategy which we aim to complete by the end of this year.
Want to find out more?
If you would like to find out more about the All Age Skills Strategy, please contact Donna Wilkinson, Regeneration and Skills Officer, Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 5628.
Do you need advice on how to deal with debt problems? On which benefits to claim? On problems with your housing or employment?
Well, in Central Bedfordshire there are a wide range of
independent agencies that can help you with these problems and with various other social welfare legal issues.
In the local area we have well established Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) with offices in Ampthill, Biggleswade, Dunstable
and Leighton Linslade. Last year these bureaux dealt with almost 10,000 enquiries; with debt and benefits being by far the biggest enquiry area.
Each CAB is open to everybody and you can contact them in a variety of ways: through a drop-in advice session; on the telephone; and even by email. You can also get basic information on a range of issues direct from the CAB website.
A number of other agencies also give information, advice and support to different groups of people in Central Bedfordshire.
- Age Concern Bedfordshire – information, advice and support for people aged 50+
- Aragon Housing Association (Money Advice Team) – advice for Aragon HA tenants with debt or benefit problems
- Bedfordshire Race and Equalities Council – advice for people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, and for people with employment discrimination and equalities enquiries
- Bedfordshire Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support – advice and support for refugees and asylum seekers living in the area
- Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (Money Advice Team) – advice for BPHA tenants with debt or benefit problems
- Disability Resource Centre – information and support for people with disabilities
- Polish-British Integration Centre – advice for people from the Polish community
- Sight Concern Bedfordshire – information, advice and support for people with sight problems and their carers
- Voices for All (Advocacy Alliance) – information and support for vulnerable people who need an advocate
Further details on all the above advice agencies, including contact details and opening times, are available here.
All the above agencies are members of Bedfordshire Advice Forum (BAF) which acts as a network for local advice providers. You can find further details about BAF on their website.
To help plan future advice services in Central Bedfordshire, BAF has been helping to develop an Advice Strategy for the area. This Strategy will be trying to ensure that effective, easily accessible, well-publicised and high quality social welfare advice and advocacy services are provided in Central Bedfordshire. For further information on the Strategy, please contact Lem Simkins.
Out and about on a Friday or Saturday night in Dunstable or Houghton Regis?
If this is you, chances are you’ve come across the Street Pastors. Started in 2009, Street Pastors walk the Dunstable streets every Saturday night between 10pm-4am, and on some Friday nights in Houghton Regis.
What is a Street Pastor?
A Street Pastor is a member of a church community with a concern for society – in particular young people who feel excluded or marginalised. By getting to know people on the streets, in the pubs and clubs or at parties, the Street Pastors gain an understanding of both personal and community needs.
The Street Pastors want people to know that the Church is there for them in a practical way. They want people to know that their role is not one of preaching religious views, but one of listening, caring and helping or working in an unconditional way.
The Dunstable and Houghton Regis Street Pastors have had a warm reception from the community, particularly those enjoying the night life of our towns. They find it a privilege to be able to spend time chatting with people of all ages who want to engage or just pass the time of ‘night’ with them.
So what’s a typical night like…?
Street Pastors start the evening at about 10pm. They record some basic data about every person they come into contact with – for example their age and gender. Any incidents are recorded as are any items recovered e.g. drugs, glass bottles etc, and passed on to the Police. All of this information helps to build up a really useful picture of the night time economy.
A recent Friday night in Leighton Linslade saw over 140 people make contact with the team, which is typical of a normal night. One Street Pastor said: ‘We came across a very drunk young lady at the taxi rank; she had a good friend with her but due to the severity of her drunkenness the taxis were refusing to take her home. We spent some time with her getting her to sip some water and helped sober her up.’
Street Pastors and the Community Safety Partnership
Street Pastors are supported by the Community Safety Partnership, although they operate completely independently. They are a great initiative and the team is really looking forward to the first evaluation of the service with a view to seeing if it could be replicated in other areas.
Like to get involved? We’d love to meet you!
To be a member of the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Street Pastors, you need to:
- be over 18 (no upper age limit),
- be linked to church group and
- be able to commit to a 50 hour training programme
The Street Pastor team consists of at least three or four people on duty at any one time, so you would never be by yourself and the existing team would love to meet any one interested in joining them.
If you’d like to find out more, please email the team co-ordinator Becky Atkins for more information. The Street Pastors postal address is: 80a Houghton Road, Dunstable. LU5 5AD
Youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, is appealing for school leavers to take part in a new course to be run this summer.
National Citizen Service (NCS) is a new, free scheme for year 11 school leavers to learn new skills, challenge themselves and make
a positive impact in their community during the summer holidays.
Young people will design a project to benefit their local area as well as going on a five-day team-building trip, taking part in activities such as kayaking and rock-climbing.
Graham Ball, Prince’s Trust regional director for the East of England, said: “All too often young people are viewed negatively by society, as “no-hopers” or “layabouts”. National Citizen Service will give Central Bedfordshire’s young people the chance to prove that they can and do make a positive impact in their community.”
“NCS will also give young people the chance to make new friends, build their confidence and gain new skills for future employment or further education.”
The Prince’s Trust is also appealing for volunteers to help run the scheme in Central Bedfordshire. Volunteers will help the young people to achieve success, giving them support and encouragement during the course.
Graham adds: “The Prince’s Trust could not achieve the results it does without the support of our volunteers. The Trust’s 5,000 volunteers play a pivotal role in helping young people move forward with their lives.”
‘Changing young lives…’
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps change young lives. It runs a range of courses, giving disadvantaged young people practical and financial support and helping them develop key workplace skills such as confidence and motivation. More than three in four young people on Prince’s Trust schemes move into work, education and training.
NCS is a coalition government scheme to be piloted across the UK this summer. Twelve pilot projects will run across England in summer 2011 giving 11,000 young people the chance to take part.
Want to find out more…?
For further information about volunteering or to find out more about National Citizen Service in your area, visit The Prince’s Trust website or call freephone 0800 842 842.
Central Bedfordshire Together is undertaking an annual review and refresh of the Community Engagement Strategy (CES) and its delivery plan, to ensure it is aligned with the latest national policy and local aspirations.
The aim of the CES is to deliver greater added value to our citizens by understanding their needs and issues, and giving them greater involvement in the decision-making process and access to services.
How have we done so far?
Good overall progress has been made against the 41 actions set out for the first year. A performance management system is in place, which is overseen by a sub-group of the Stronger Communities Thematic Partnership.
Since the CES was developed a new legislative framework has begun to emerge to build the Big Society. The Localism Bill is planned to support a shift of power away from central government to councils and local communities.
A fundamental element of this is to empower local people to get involved with and direct the development of their communities. Whilst the existing strategy supports this, a refresh will ensure it is fully aligned with the latest national policy as well as local aspirations.
The refresh will focus on:
- Removing any actions already achieved or no longer relevant and adding new ones;
- Refreshing the principles to ensure the key drivers are adequately embraced; and
- Identifying specific and measurable outcomes to achieve through improved community engagement.
National and local drivers that will be addressed as part of the refresh include:
- Reviewing and updating the CES and action plan to reflect the Localism Bill;
- A genuine desire to enhance our engagement with communities (ensuring meaningful consultation);
- Communities doing more for themselves and the need to proactively facilitate this;
- Service and organisational reviews and remodelling of delivery approaches, and overcoming obstacles associated with the transfer of responsibility for the delivery of local services;
- A cultural shift to embrace and mainstream wider involvement and engagement in the delivery of public services;
- The new Equality Duty to ensure we engage with all of Central Bedfordshire’s diverse communities; and
- A raft of other legislation driving considerable change within partner organisations and impacting on community and stakeholder engagement
Like to find out more…?
Please contact Sarah Hughes, Community Engagement Manager, Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 6166.
The Bedfordshire & Luton Local Resilience Forum (BLLRF) is setting out new plans to make sure our business and voluntary sector colleagues are prepared if disaster strikes, and that help is at hand.
Every year 1 in 5 businesses face a major disruption to their services, and 1 in 10 of these will cease trading as a result. Experience shows that businesses are far more likely to survive a disaster if they have planned for it.
What is Business Continuity?
Business Continuity in its simplest form means that if you are faced with any form of disruption you understand how you will be kept informed and how you will get back to business.
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) identifies all the requirements essential to keeping the business running in the event of a crisis. By law, local authorities have to provide advice and guidance to businesses and voluntary organisations on BCP.
In 2010, a survey was carried out with businesses across the sub-region. Within Bedfordshire & Luton, 36% of businesses have a BCP. However, the survey also showed that as businesses go through the 24-49 employees band they are most likely to develop a BCP (87%), but then worryingly when businesses reach above 50 employees the number of businesses with a BCP declines (78%).
Businesses most likely to have a BCP are:
- In the finance, property and business services or agriculture and production sectors (45% and 36% respectively);
- Be situated over more than one site (53% compared to 32% of those on single sites);
- Are Private Limited (51%);
- Have a formal business plan (56% compared to 39% that do not); and
- Have a turnover in excess of £2million (82%)
Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council & Luton Borough Council Economic Development Teams, along with Emergency Planning colleagues and experts from the private sector are developing plans to address the above issues.
There is a large amount of advice about developing a BCP available on the BLLRF website. If you are interested in becoming part of these groups or have any thoughts and suggestions for the team, please contact Caron Kendall, Business Growth Officer, Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 6984.
Holden McAllister were commissioned by Central Bedfordshire Together to undertake a multi-agency review of Central Bedfordshire’s response to anti-social behaviour (ASB).
The aim of the review was to identify gaps in service, and to develop an action plan to ensure that Central Bedfordshire’s response to ASB is effective.
The Community Safety Partnership (CSP) Strategic Assessment 2011-12 reports that ASB accounted for 23.4% of the incidents reported to Bedfordshire Police, which was a slight reduction compared to previous years.
The review makes 6 priority recommendations:
- Need for a shared definition of ASB
- Formalise key partner contacts to facilitate information sharing
- Task and Finish Group to be set up to consider how repeat victimisation can be more easily identified
- ASB Case Conferences are established for high risk cases on Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) lines
- Mapping of diversionary activities to prevent ASB and Central Bedfordshire Together supports work to identify and address root causes
- CSP to identify the impact of structural changes to support services around ASB e.g Integrated Youth Support Services, Connexions; and seek Central Bedfordshire Together to mitigate negative impacts.
The full report can be viewed here.
The Ageing Well programme is ‘an opportunity to enhance outcomes for older people in Central Bedfordshire.’
Central Bedfordshire Council has received an Ageing Well Programme Offer which supports local authorities to promote the independence and well being of older people. This work is being led by the Local Government Group (LGG), and takes a place-based approach looking at how services are delivered.
It aims to support local authorities to improve their services and to develop good places to grow old. It will focus on service design and transformation to improve efficiency and outcomes for older people which can best be achieved by older people fully engaging in their local communities, and in the development of services.
The Central Bedfordshire offer will be locality focused, taking a whole systems approach to promote positive images of ageing, in partnership with older people.
‘Maintaining quality services…’
The programme encourages partnerships with other local organisations and seeks to develop imaginative approaches to local issues. An essential aspect of the programme is helping local authorities to improve efficiency while maintaining quality services. It is a good opportunity to take a whole systems view on services and will be important in our work to redesign how services are delivered for older people.
The programme has four main themes; Leadership, Strategic Approach, Engagement of older people and Joined up commissioning and delivery of services for older people. Support from the LGG is tailored to meet specific local needs and priorities.
The pre-requisites for this offer for support are:
- corporate leadership across the public sector is committed to a spirit of joint action
- a commitment to focus on outcomes rather than current service inputs
- commitment to the engagement of older people in the process
- a willingness to consider innovative approaches and transformational change
This timely offer will focus on early intervention and prevention, supporting self funders to be aware of the full range of services available to them to enable them to maximise their independence. It will also explore opportunities to build capacity in the community to meet the challenges of an ageing population.
This work will help to address some of the issues and priorities highlighted by the Older Peoples Reference Group (OPRG) that older people would like to ‘Keep on doing things for themselves that that they value’, which might include everyday living activities such as shopping and cooking, as well as working, seeing friends and family, helping others and going out and having fun.
The Programme will also explore issues such as:
- accessibility of information and advice
- housing to meet future needs
- access to transport via community initiatives
- volunteering opportunities
Like to find out more…?
For more information about this project please contact Diana Blackmun Service User Engagement Officer, Central Bedfordshire Council on 0300 300 6647.
You can visit the Ageing Well website here.
One of the key themes in the Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) for Central Bedfordshire is to ‘raise standards and tackle inequalities’ in the area.
The SCS also contains a specific commitment to lessen inequality
by ‘…providing easily accessible, high quality welfare advice and information services’.
To help meet these commitments, the Advice Strategy lays out, for the first time, a strategic approach for the planning, funding and delivery of social welfare advice provision in Central Bedfordshire.
Following approval by the Stronger Communities Thematic Partnership on 25 May 2011, the draft Advice Strategy for Central Bedfordshire was approved and endorsed by the Central Bedfordshire Together Board on 5 July 2011 with a number of positive comments and good feedback.
The next stage will be to develop an action plan and a proposal on how to set up an Advice Planning Board.
The Advice Strategy can be downloaded here…
Community gardening club ‘Growing Downside’ has secured a £5,815 donation from the Santander Foundation to enable it to continue operating throughout this year’s growing season.
The donation will help to fund Groundwork’s staff time, provide training and buy learning resources and materials to ensure green-fingered residents have all they need to continue the growing club into the future.
During 2011, local residents will take a much more hands on role in terms of planning the garden, preparing the site, choosing and caring for the plants and harvesting and enjoying the produce.
‘Grab a watering can…!’
Lorna Hunt, Senior Governance Manager at Santander, recently visited Growing Downside and met with the volunteers and Groundwork staff. Lorna said: “The enthusiasm of the volunteers and Groundwork was fantastic to see and was really infectious. I’m a non-gardener, but even I felt inspired to grab a watering can!”
Vicky Duxbury, Environmental Education Officer at Groundwork said: “We are extremely grateful to the Santander Foundation for their support which will enable us to continuing offering our services to local people throughout 2011.”
Like to get involved?
The Growing Downside gardeners meet every Tuesday afternoon at Downside Neighbourhood Centre from 2.15pm — 4.30pm. The gardeners do meet at other times if you can’t make Tuesdays, please contact Vicky Duxbury at Groundwork on 01582 720147 to find out when the group is meeting.
Groundwork also offer free ‘Grow Your Own Sessions’ where you can learn how to grow your own fruit and vegetables. These sessions are every other Tuesday 2.15pm—4.15pm.
Forthcoming dates are 2, 16 and 30 August 2011.
Autumn dates will be publicised later this year.
Downside Neighbourhood Centre is located next to Downside Lower School on Oakwood Avenue, Dunstable.
Please contact Vicky Duxbury for further information on 01582 720147 or visit Groundwork’s website.