More good news this week. Children North East is one of 38 providers approved by Newcastle City Council that Newcastle schools can chose to purchase services from. No guarantee that schools will, but Newcastle Council is to be congratulated on trying to create a market for voluntary sector services.
There are glimmers that the market for family work may be beginning to happen too. In recent weeks two councils have referred complex families to us asking us to work with them. It looks like the Family Wise programme (Children North East is a sub-contractor) is at last wanting to purchase services from us too.
Children North East 'Youth Link' peer mentoring projects have found a niche whereby our trained volunteer young people work with young people who have special educational needs to help them use public transport to get to school or college instead of the council having to pay taxi fares for them. Councils are very interested in this as most spend huge amounts on taxis. We are calling it 'Bus Buddies'.
We applied to two councils to provide adult and community education programmes and have been successful. We are now negotiating with both about the exact nature of the parenting provision they want us to provide, especially engaging fathers in parenting. These won't be large commissions but further our aim to encourage positive family relationships.
Our training for adult volunteers to work with parents has been accredited by OCN, a national body. This means volunteers completing the programme can get an accreditation which demonstrates quality and helps the volunteer's CV.
BUT on the worrying side we also heard this week that 25% - that's one quarter of all homeless people in Newcastle are now young people under the age of 25; and the People's Kitchen in Newcastle has seen a large rise in the number of young people coming to them for food and help to find accommodation. The YMCA has said this is a national trend which they say has been exacerbated by an 11% cut by government to the 'Supporting People' programme that helps young people and adults with housing problems.