Ceredigion County Council – Support and Prevention Service is made up of multi-disciplined teams. The overall aim of the Service is providing child, youth and family-led approaches to enable children, young people, families and wider communities to be empowered, to achieve, to develop personally, emotionally, socially and be the best that they can be. The Service hosts the maintained Youth Service and Youth Work delivery for the county.
In 2020, Ceredigion Youth Service was part of an organisation-wide transformation where it was integrated with other teams such as school behaviour, NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and Youth Justice, to form a new support and prevention service for children and young people. This provided a unique opportunity to review workforce structure and resource potential and adapt provisions to meet the changing needs and trends within the county.
Gethin Jones, Corporate Manager with the Support and Prevention Service at Ceredigion County Council shares how they developed pathways for professional enhancement and empowerment for Youth Work Leaders through succession planning, workforce curriculum and well-being initiatives.
Since January 2020, I have been employed as the Corporate Manager of the Support and Prevention Service, which has 52 staff across the service, and I was initially mandated with the responsibility of integrating and designing new services that straddled both social care and education directorates.
Getting to know new teams and professions is challenging and building relationships with key stakeholders and being transparent has been the key to be able achieve the outcomes we set effectively and efficiently.
At the beginning, it was evident that we had an array of practitioners working with children and young people using youth work principles and methodology. Therefore, training and developmental opportunities to upskill, increase awareness and understanding was key in instilling confidence and cohesion within the service.
As this period of change happened during the pandemic, it was significantly more challenging to bring people together, although digital options brought new innovative ways to share information and network, inevitably nothing can replace that human interaction and ability to build rapport and trust.
A key area to building workforce development was strategically bolstering the Level 2 and 3 pathway for youth work training, where both internal and external services have benefitted from two courses per year and over 40 staff and volunteers have achieved level 2 qualification.
Since 2014, 10 staff members have been supported financially to achieve Youth Work degrees whilst working for the authority. This enabled us to grow and strengthen the professionalisation of the sector locally. But more importantly, strengthening the pool of qualified and quality youth workers. We have also worked closely with our internal Learning and Development team through utilising the corporate qualifications panel to support professional and personal development. Ten members of staff in the service in the past two years have completed their own professional studies which I have supported through our corporate qualifications panel, where they have achieved undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, NVQ and diplomas.
Furthermore, two team managers are currently accessing leadership, management and coaching level 3 and 4 courses, and are working in partnership with our Learning and Development team on a variety of courses and talent management programmes, that when completed will be a clear pathway for both managers and aspiring managers to understand their training and development options to get them to where they need to be.
We now have agile and holistic teams that provide universal and focussed support for children, young people and their families, and they include Youth Work, education progression, primary and secondary mentoring, transition, nurture and emotional well-being support; along with community-based engagement and prevention.
Our retention and recruitment rate are one of the highest in the local authority and I credit that to our work in developing an effective workforce strategy, well-being focus and implementing a young person first approach to planning and delivery.
My first degree was in Sports Coaching, and I credit my interpersonal and leadership skills to these experiences and being involved in team environments from a young age, where I’m able to transfer these qualities to managing people, projects and processes. However, my role as a leader within the service has been around developing shared-leadership, being adaptable and open to change in order to build positive relationships.
As a Service, we currently provide support for around 300 secondary-aged pupils, 75 primary-aged pupils and 60 young people on a weekly basis, whilst also complementing services such as family and parent support, along with wider specialist services. I am confident in the knowledge that our work has prevented hundreds of people from needing specialist intervention and care – whilst also supporting specialist and statutory services in maintaining their care and support plans.
Empowering and motivating colleagues has been important in creating a creative, solutions-focussed and young-person centred approach to delivering high-quality services. Absence and retention rates, including engagement of staff with service delivery has improved significantly during this period. I’m proud of the fact that the service is needs-led, not prescribed or micro-managed and staff are empowered to use initiatives and their skillsets to impact people’s lives positively.