Children England Yorkshire & Humber
Regional Group Meeting
4 March 2011 at Government Office for Yorkshire & Humber, Leeds
Chair: Millie Cummings (Action for Children)
Present: Maggie Jones (Children England); Lesley Wood (VCS Engage);
Simon Cale (National Children’s Centre); Shirley Stephenson (Family
Links); Barry Graham (Browning House); Bev Hemming(NCMA); Kerr
Kennedy (Bradford CVS), Steve Oversby (Barnardos), Laverne
Anderson (Home-Start UK); Karen Speller (Action for Children, note-
Apologies: Gill Middleton, Denise Lane, Carolyn Barlow, Tom Holden
Millie welcomed everyone to the meeting
1. Minutes from the last meeting held on 10th December 2010
The minutes of the last meeting were discussed and approved as correct.
2. Round Table Highlights
Action for Children – Millie Cummings told the group that approximately 25% of
contracts had been lost in the last 6 months and there was still some uncertainty
about future work. She said that she was leaving Action for Children on 18th March
and that Julie Longworth, her successor, would be attending the regional Children
England meetings in the future. Efficiency savings had meant that they had decided
to fill only one of the two vacant Operational Director’s posts. Tendering and
commissioning activity seemed to focus on youth, supported accommodation and
disability. She felt that future work would involve adding value with other
organisations rather than being in competition with them.
National Children’s Centre – Simon Cale said that as a children, young adult and
family service in West Yorkshire they had not experienced much change recently. He
had been trying to make contact with new networks locally and regionally but this
was a long process. Early intervention and prevention funding seemed to be the only
funding available. Fortunately the organisation had not lost any major contracts with
the Local Authority but he felt that the situation would be clearer by May/June.
Barnardos – Steve Oversby said that the situation for his organisation was similar to
Action for Children and the future is unclear. They had lost 15-20% of contracts and
their ‘missing’ service had gone. Hull Local Authority were particularly hard hit due to
cutbacks and previous overspend and the situation was still uncertain in Bradford. He
felt that it would take 6-12months and in that time he was aware that staff internally
would be looking at their own positions which could result in the loss of the
knowledge and experience of people in the network. Steve said that he was positive
about the future but realistic.
Browning House – Barry Graham said that there was still a heavy demand for
residential day and community services and that they had been successful in their
bid for a social enterprise investment fund grant. By the end of May they would have
a new premises to increase flexibility. As a member of Leeds Safeguarding Board he
was aware that Local authorities were using outcome based accountability.
Family Links – Shirley Stephenson reminded the group that the organisation was a
national organisation working with families and commissioned by the Local Authority
to train staff. She said that she had some hope for the future because of their
reputation and that they were busy until the end of June. They were looking forward
to the party political conference season as this gave them an opportunity for
Homestart - Laverne Anderson said that there were ongoing talks on a restructure
and a possible 10-15% cut in the national organisation. At regional level there was a
mixed picture although workers felt passionate about their families and concerned
about the effect of cuts on the lives of their families.
NCMA – Bev Hemming said that the Board had voiced concerns that the
organisation for was not considered on a level playing field with other organisations.
They had been awarded a DfE grant to re-establish membership and they will be
reviewing resources and restructuring. They had only lost one group, in Doncaster.
Bradford Young Lives – Kerr Kennedy reminded the group that Young Lives,
Bradford was involved with smaller voluntary and community organisations and he
said that they were concentrating on savings. His colleagues had been finding it
difficult and they were due to hear soon about de-commissioning or re-
commissioning. He felt that the council were still being protective about their
services. There was a question as to whether to campaign at the voluntary sector
assembly, some wanted to campaign whereas others preferred to just keep the
dialogue going. Consortia building was another possible idea that had been
3. Children England Update
Maggie Jones highlighted the national position. She said that where there had been
health and wellbeing pilots planned, none had been running. As an organisation
there were concerns regarding strength of representation.
She felt that central government didn’t seem to have confidence in local
government’s ability to deliver and seemed to be looking for solutions that wouldn’t
involve them. Children England, as an organisation recognised that if Local
Authorities were provided with the money, they had the structures already in place to
use it .
A short discussion followed regarding indicators and the ability of the voluntary sector
to compete in the market.
4. Feedback from Residential
Lesley Wood said that the residential held on January 25/26th was the second 24hr
session that had been organised. Joyce Thacker had been invited as had 3
infrastructure workers together with, Millie, Simon, Emily Castle, Kerr and Alison
Haskins. The scene setting exercise had produced some very good research. .
Simon Cale then went on to propose the new structure. He said that with VCS
Engage coming to an end they were all in agreement that they would involve the
group. Funding would be payment by results so any governance structures would
make sure that outcomes were achieved. They would use accounting arrangements
with Simon, as the treasurer, and Kerr would oversee line management for the work
that Lesley would undertake.
The work itself would
1) support the repositioning of the sector
2) offer stakeholder engagement and influence
3) help with change management (consortia)
4) provide a study bank, sharing learning and ‘telling the story’.
LW circulated a document.
Simon emphasised that, in summary, Lesley’s work would be able to continue and it
would still be accountable to the Children England group and would offer
sustainability, carefully packaged. The VCS Engage website could be transferred to
the CE regional site. The proposal had looked at endorsing governance and how to
meet outcomes and it had been presented and accepted by the funders.
A further discussion took place around this and Maggie highlighted that VCS engage
funding was for the whole sector, not just Children England. Issues were raised
around the management of the extra pot of money and the implications for Children
5. VCS Engage – final update
Lesley Wood said that the ‘When the Going Gets Tough’ event, held on February
14th, had very positive evaluations. It was felt that the venue, the City Museum, was
very good and Joyce Thacker was appreciated as a real advocate.
Millie thanked Lesley for the work she had undertaken in pulling the sector together
for Children England and VCS engage. She also thanked Kerr for chairing the
regional group and joining with Simon in setting agendas. Lesley also thanked Millie
for her support.
6. Children England update
Maggie Jones circulated 3 papers and explained what Children England’s 50% cut in
funding meant to the organisation and the regional group. She emphasised that the
organisation would still be a driver of what went on and that they would perhaps be
able to make better use of the link-worker. They still had enough funding to support
events and support the network. It was felt that it was important to format future
meetings in order to make best use of the time. Children England were currently
undertaking a survey of the whole of the membership on the issue of cuts. They were
concentrating on the key areas of family services, staff lost, funds lost and whole
services lost. The information will be collated by 13th May.
Maggie said that despite Millie leaving, she was reassured by the fact that Barry
Graham and Shirley Stephenson were taking over as Chair and Vice-Chair.
7. Safe Network update
Millie read out Safe Network notes in the absence of Gill Middleton
8. Update on future events
A discussion took place regarding the meeting on 13th May which will be attended by
15 people from a range of local authorities. Barry Graham offered to attend on behalf
of the group and there were several suggestions as to the topics that could be raised.
These included; representation; safeguarding and how increased risk would be
managed; the role of small community groups to take some of the increased burden
of children’s services; what might happen in 6-12 months time; the impact and how
we can prepare for the future; the commissioning process where more is expected
for less and moving back to the service level agreement approach. It was suggested
that the emphasis should be on coming together around commissioning and shared
Millie asked how these ideas could be taken forward and it was felt that other ideas
could be asked for via the email list. A planning meeting would take place in late
Millie added that there were no future dates for the Yorkshire Humber regional
meeting and Government Office may not be available as a venue.
Barry was happy to continue with the 1st Friday of the month which would mean that
the provisional dates for the next meetings would be 3rd June, 2nd September, 2nd
Maggie made a short presentation to Millie and thanked her for her involvement as
Chair of the Yorkshire Humber Children England group.
Future Meetings – dates and venue to be confirmed