Sheffield Council to bring its youth services back in-house after contract with charity ends
A charity working with young people will not have its contract renewed after Sheffield Council decided to bring services back in-house.
Sheffield Futures has delivered youth services on behalf of the council for the past 15 years but its contract with the local authority is ending and will not be re-tendered.
Instead the council will invest an extra £2million in young people and will offer more ‘wraparound care’ with better integration of services including schools, safeguarding, youth justice and mental health.
Mentors and youth workers will provide consistent guidance and full support and there will be a focus on the specific needs of teenagers aged 14 to 19.
Over the last 18 months, Council Leader Julie Dore has led a review, including talking to young people directly about what they want.
Many said the system was complex to navigate, they felt they were ‘bouncing’ between numerous services and repeating their story. They wanted one worker who they could trust and rely on throughout their time with services.
Coun Dore said: “We are nearly doubling the amount of money we are investing in young people to allow staff to reach more and spend more time with them.
“Services will definitely carry on and will definitely get better. At the moment, a worker may deal with a young person to find them employment but it’s not just about a job, it’s how we ensure they are safe, fulfilled, healthy and doing positive activities.
“There is support but it’s not as intensive as we would like and it’s not reaching as many young people as we think we can help.
“This will mean we can offer wraparound care with a number of services and help teenagers reach their full potential as they go into adulthood.”
Coun Dore said young people had borne the brunt of austerity this past decade. “We can’t deny that young people are worse off then they have ever been and there has been massive disinvestment from the Government.
“Our investment will provide a holistic service to support and inspire young people to achieve their full potential.”
Speaking after the announcement, CEO at Sheffield Futures Gail Gibbons, said she was concerned that the termination of the contract could have an impact on the charity and its ‘frontline delivery’.
She added: “We absolutely welcome an ambitious strategy for young people. We’ve been closely involved with putting together its direction, so support many of its aims, such as building upon the successful partnerships that are already delivering many of these services across the city.
“We’re delighted to hear about the investment of a further £2m, something we have been advocating for some time, and we are looking forward to hearing how this will enhance delivery for young people.
“However, we have concerns around the impact on Sheffield Futures and frontline delivery, in terms of the proposal to take these services in-house, and we are seeking discussions with the local authority on how this might work.
“For now, it’s business as usual for our team, working with young people all across Sheffield to protect them from risk and to support them to live positive and productive lives.”
When asked whether there would be any job losses as a result of the contract ending, a spokesman for Sheffield Futures added: “We’re committed to protecting frontline services and our staff, which we are sure is a position the council will also support. We hope to be having discussions with the council soon as to how we can minimise the impact to our staff and also service delivery. However, as we are an independent charity, over the last ten years we have been able to bring in more than £22.5m in additional funding to support young people across the city, and it’s our aim to continue doing this.”