Validated local practice details

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C4EO - Child Poverty

Local Authority Innovation Pilot – Tyne Gateway Community Entrepreneurs

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Child Poverty
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

  • Development and delivery of effective area-wide child poverty strategies
  • Child Poverty needs assessment

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Tyne Gateway Partnership

Local authority/local area:

North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council

 

The context and rationale

Background details to your example

In 2009, we successfully bid for funding from the Child Poverty Unit to run one of the ten Local Authority Innovation Pilots. The Tyne Gateway Partnership is a joint initiative between North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council. The ‘core’ of the pilot is to recruit and train a cohort of twenty parents to become ‘Community Entrepreneurs’, working in communities to lift families in the most deprived areas of North Tyneside and South Tyneside out of poverty. There are ten posts in each borough.

The role of the Community Entrepreneurs is to make links between all public sector and community and voluntary sector services in deprived areas. The aim is to increase the take-up of benefits and/or signpost to employment opportunities, with the emphasis being on the latter where possible. The delivery of the Tyne Gateway Partnership includes participation from sponsoring partners, including Primary Care Trusts, Jobcentre Plus, and local providers of further and higher education, as well as community and voluntary organisations.

The Community Entrepreneurs are to be supported throughout the pilot to ensure a smooth transition into employment and to help them maintain that employment. In addition to this, they will also be involved in work-based learning, studying for a Foundation Degree in Community Entrepreneurship at the University of Sunderland.

The aims of the Tyne Gateway Partnership are to:

• increase parental employment
• raise family income, e.g., through the improved take-up of tax credits and benefits (including local authority administered benefits)
• narrow the gap in outcomes between children in low-income families and their peers
• promote economic regeneration focused on families and tackle deprivation at a community-wide level
• build the capacity of communities to tackle poverty
• raise aspirations and increase resilience.

The need for the Tyne Gateway Partnership to tackle child poverty was identified through an analysis of data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2007. Evidence was used to support the need for an innovative project to break the cycle of poverty that challenges both boroughs. From this, it was highlighted that it would be beneficial to focus on the neighbourhoods identified as amongst the 10 per cent most deprived Local Super Output Areas (LSOAs) nationally.

 

The practice

Further details about the practice

Staff from both local authorities and their service partners were asked to nominate individuals from families in, or at risk of, poverty to become ‘Community Entrepreneurs’, with a focus on those who were already volunteering or working in their communities.
From a total of 52 nominations, 26 parents were accepted to take part in an eight-week bespoke training course developed with the University of Sunderland. This ‘Awareness Raising Course’ (ARC) enabled participants to develop their basic skills and job application and interview skills, and explored child poverty, Every Child Matters, safeguarding and the role of ‘Community Entrepreneur’. There was also an emphasis on strengthening emotional resilience.

Following the course, parents could apply to become Community Entrepreneurs and 20 began employment in January 2010. As part of their role of Community Entrepreneur, they also started a Foundation Degree in Community Entrepreneurship in February 2010, which was developed specifically for the project with the University of Sunderland.

Following the success of the first ARC, a further course was run for another 14 parents, even though there were no further jobs available. The outcomes from ARC suggested that the course raised aspirations and motivated parents to progress into employment, even without the promise of a job at the end. From discussions with those who had been on the ARC, it was decided that as part of their project development, the CEs would run and facilitate a four-week version of the ARC as the ‘Tyne Gateway’ course, delivered by the CEs themselves and addressing those areas they found most useful, for example, emotional resilience.

Each Community Entrepreneur was based in an area team, Children’s Centre or extended school and had a workplace ‘supporter’ to help them in the workplace, alongside a Senior Mentor. The Senior Mentors were drawn from senior staff within the two councils and partner agencies to help the CEs when faced with any difficulties or barriers within the organisation. The Community Entrepreneur also had an Area Manager to provide individualised support and act as line manager (one per borough).

The Community Entrepreneurs were tasked with:
• developing community projects that help parents and cares of children to overcome barriers to employment, education or training
• working with local employesr to find out about employment opportunities and help parents and carers of children to take up these opportunities
• maximising parent/care take-up of service provision, such as housing, education and training, benefits and health
• encouraging a multi-agency approach to tackling child poverty.

A total of 17 community-based projects (including three joint projects) were developed and approved for funding at a ‘Dragon’s Den’ event held by the Steering Group:

A Hand to Help – creation of employment opportunities for NEETs to work with vulnerable tenants with minor repairs/maintenance
Blossom Forth – new business providing Childcare and Support Workers for Disabled Children – Joint North/South Tyneside Project
• Bridge the Gap – encouraging BME women into childcare careers
Community Energy Advisers – providing employment opportunities through energy advice
Everyday Childcare – extending childcare provision to enable parents to work
Future Focus – a confidence building course to get ‘hard to reach’ parents into training, employment or education
Get Up and Go – incentivised support for families to increase access to services
Hear U Clear – Community Interpreting/Translation Service
Home Buddies – employment opportunity to provide support for young people in their first tenancy
Jobs for the Boys – Dad’s groups and encouraging fathers into care industry
Ready Steady Go – incentivising parents to access services
On the Job – Volunteer Support Workers in Job Centre Plus
Lets Save Together – incentivised savings schemes for children based in schools to develop financial capability
Piggy Bank/C U Next Week – Doorstep Lending service at low interest rates
Unity Calls – training programme to help parents move into call centre work and possible community based call centre as Social Enterprise
Will U Won’t U...U choose – peer support project focusing upon teen pregnancy prevention
Workplace Tax Credit Advisers – provision of free, understandable advice to employees in the workplace to encourage take-up of tax credits and help with other issues.

The Community Entrepreneurs commenced engagement activities for their projects in April 2010 and, through a series of evaluation questionnaires, determined which parents were in, or at risk of, poverty and could move onto the training courses, or be supported by the CE projects.

 

Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

Evidencing your practice has made a difference to children, young people and families

As part of a national pilot, Tyne Gateway has been extensively evaluated to show its impact on outcomes for children and their families. A list of all the evaluation reports is detailed in the section on ‘Sustaining and Replicating Practice’. Of the 40 parents/cares of children who participated in the ARC, 20 were employed as CEs. One dropped out to commence teacher training, but was replaced by a participant from the second ARC course.

The CE posts have provided families with a significant increase in income in most circumstances. Overall, the household incomes of the CEs have increased by an average of £223.80 per week, and by £99.00 per week when additional expenditure, primarily on childcare, is taken into account.

The University of Sunderland carried out focus groups with the CEs and their partners, children, and the children’s teachers. Their findings confirmed many of those of internal interviews and also highlighted a more positive sense of wellbeing and a high degree of autonomy among the older children, with the parents spending better quality time with all their children.

The Participation and Engagement Team from North Tyneside Council also carried out some evaluation activities with the children of the CE’s which found from a range of responses from the children about how their life and parents’/carers’ lives had changed, that a higher percentage said their family life had improved than not.

Following the development and initial delivery of the Community Entrepreneurs projects, the CEs were able to help other parents/families and as of 10th June 2011:
• 1638 people had been consulted about the Community Entrepreneur (CE) projects
• 623 of these had been followed up with further contact form the CEs
• 417 parents had engaged further with the CE s (signposting to other services, enrolling on courses)
• 212 parents fully engaged in the CE projects, moving into training or employment
• 89 parents were accessing services not previously accessed (Children’s Centres, doctors, dentists etc.)
• 46 parents had been moved into employment (12 of which were employed in new roles in new services created by the Community Entrepreneurs).

A Steering Group involving a wide range of partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors was also established for the pilot phase, to help support the Community Entrepreneurs and their projects.

Having positive relationships with senior staff within each local authority has also proved to be beneficial to the development of the projects, helping us to make sure that the systems operate around the role of the Community Entrepreneurs and the needs of families, rather than their role being determined by features of the Local Authority system that may restrict the levels of innovation.

Each of the CEs was matched to a senior member of staff from each of the partner agencies, who acting as a ‘mentor’ worked together with the CEs to continue to remove obstacles throughout the development of the work in their communities and projects. This has proved to be a crucial relationship to help address the numerous barriers which arose during the development and delivery of the projects.

By March 2011 we hope to have evidence of what works and what could be improved, in helping families develop their own ‘pathways out of poverty’. Initial feedback suggests that inflexible childcare provision is a major barrier for parents trying to move into employment, along with – inevitably – the complexities of the benefits system and the fear that people have of ‘stepping off’ it for short term or low paid jobs. Early evidence also suggests that having an element of emotional resilience built into the course, rather than simply helping people look for work, write CVs and prepare for interviews, has helped participants in developing a more positive approach to seeking employment

In order to be able to assess the impacts of moving into employment we will be considering the expenditure of families, rather than just income. For example, a lack of access to ‘fair’ credit means that many low-income families rely upon doorstep lenders and loan sharks. We will be able to consider issues such as this when helping families to move out of poverty and our evaluation will address this.

 

Sustaining and replicating your practice

Helping others to replicate your practice

Various evaluations have taken place including:

National Evaluation Reports by GHK Consulting Ltd:
Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot Evaluation: First Synthesis Report – January 2010
Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot Evaluation: Second Synthesis Report – September 2010
Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot Evaluation: Third Synthesis Report – January 2011
Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot Evaluation: Final National Synthesis Report – October 2011
Tyne Gateway 1st Evaluation Report – April 2010
Tyne Gateway 2nd Evaluation Report – July 2010
Tyne Gateway 3rd Evaluation Report – December 2010
Tyne Gateway Final Evaluation Report – due for publication October 2011

Other evaluation reports
Tyne Gateway Internal Report - October 2010
Tyne Gateway Internal Report - University of Sunderland, October 2010
Tyne Gateway Internal Report Summary – University of Sunderland, October 2010
Tyne Gateway Consultation Event (North Tyneside Participation and Engagement Team )– July 2010

Details from these can be seen in the previous sections.

Tyne Gateway also won two awards whilst in the pilot phase :
The Local Government Chronicle Award 2011 for Community Involvement.
4Children’s National Children’s Star Award for Supporting Children and Families.

Tyne Gateway has now completed the pilot phase. Delivery of the pilot commenced as the country entered a recession but, taking this into account, impacts to date are very good.

Research so far has suggested that the main barriers encountered by parents to developing their own pathways out of poverty are:
• Inflexible childcare provision,
• A complicated benefits system and fear of ‘stepping off’ benefits for short term or low paid work
• The expenditure of families, rather than just the income should be taken into account, as a lack of access to ‘fair’ credit means many low income families rely on doorstep lenders and loan sharks. The ‘Poverty Premium,’ as defined by Save the Children, is calculated at £1,280, and is the amount incurred by families as a result of being poor, and thereby having to pay more for their basic goods and services than better off families.
• It is also important that emotional resilience is built into training courses for the projects, rather than simply helping parents write CVs and prepare for interviews, to help foster a more positive approach to their search for employment.
• For others tackling child poverty we would recommend challenging the systems and processes that exist within local authorities by building positive relationships with senior staff in the relevant local authority departments at both the strategic and operational level. The risk for a project such as Tyne Gateway is that innovative practices are hampered by restrictions arising from the systems which staff have to work within. Having a core officers group, consisting of members of senior staff from each local authority, and a steering group, consisting of members of senior staff from our partner organisations, has helped us to overcome systemic problems, such as inflexible approaches to recruitment and the complexities of the benefit system.

Looking to the future
The Tyne Gateway Trust was established on completion of the pilot and is now an independent social enterprise and registered charity. It has a Board of Directors, primarily from the original Steering Group to take forward the work of the pilot in tackling child poverty, but with the addition of a number of local entrepreneurs At the end of the pilot (March 2011) the two local authorities undertook to fund the Community Entrepreneurs to the end of March 2012, to enable them and Tyne Gateway Trust to become established and to support it with the further development of its projects and businesses.

There are currently 14 Community Entrepreneurs delivering 11 projects, two of which are looking to become businesses in their own right and to act as trading arms of Tyne Gateway. In addition, Tyne Gateway Trust is currently developing a bid to extend the model it has created through the Improving Futures fund to develop more ‘Family Entrepreneurs’ to continue and expand on the work of the Community Entrepreneurs in the two boroughs but focusing on families with complex and multiple needs.
Of the six Community Entrepreneurs that have left Tyne Gateway since the beginning of the pilot, two have gone into higher education and one is still volunteering.
Of the original 20 CEs, 17 completed and passed Year 1 of their Foundation Degree at the University of Sunderland and 15 are continuing in Year 2.

Tyne Gateway has always been about seeking out new and innovative ways to deliver services. Establishing new delivery models, as described above, will enable partner agencies - and in particular local authorities - to procure and commission new services which not only enable those services to be delivered in a more cost effective way, but which also have, at their core, the ability to tackle child poverty by providing parental employment.


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