Picture of children

Council commits to improving the future for children and young people

Plans outlining how to help babies, children and young people in Barking and Dagenham to have the best chance in life and reach their full potential were given the go ahead by councillors at a meeting last night (Wednesday 23 November).

The new strategy jointly developed under the new Integrated Care duties, details how the Best Chance 0-25 Partnership will establish common goals and take a more joined-up approach to health, care and community integration, including education, special needs and early years provision over the next three years.

This system-wide partnership has been jointly developed to support youngsters aged 0 to 25 and their families under the new Integrated Care duties of the local authority. It includes the Council, partners from the health sector, local schools, voluntary and community groups.

The partnership will work together to deliver placed-based care to reduce health inequalities and improve life chances through partnership working with an emphasis on early intervention. The Council hopes the strategy will lead to improvements in safeguarding, such as protecting children in care and reducing the risk of young people exposed to domestic abuse.

Other ambitions of the plan, called the Babies, Children, Young People and Families (0-25) Partnership - Best Chance Strategy, include giving babies the best start in life through a network of family hubs, helping youngsters to thrive in inclusive schools, and grow to be successful young adults taking advantage of the inclusive growth opportunities within the borough, including the film studios and markets.

Councillor Jane Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care & Disabilities, said: “This might seem like just another strategy, but this is a significant moment for the borough and something that goes beyond just words that will be forgotten in a few years.

“This is a real statement of intent and a commitment to change, capitalising on new opportunities and tackling entrenched issues facing our babies, children, young people and their families.

“It’s been produced by speaking to all those involved, giving a voice to our borough’s children, parents, and carers, while matching those views with our partner organisations and creating a vision that will make a better place for babies, children, and young people right here in Barking and Dagenham.”

The strategy has been produced in response to a growing number of challenges faced by children and young people in the borough, including having the highest proportion of children (0 –17) in the UK and the highest level of obesity in children in Year 6. The report also outlines how 46 per cent of children live in households on the poverty line – one of the highest in the country.

Dr Shanika Sharma, co-chair of Together First CIC, one of the partners involved, said: “Against a backdrop of high birth rates and deprivation, protecting and improving the health of Barking and Dagenham babies, children, and young people has to be more than a statistical exercise.

“With the pandemic and associated disruptions, as a GP I have witnessed first-hand the consequence of poor child health outcomes. While we each have a part to play, together with our partners, we are a stronger force in helping the next generation live longer and healthier lives.”

Nathan Singleton, Chief Executive Officer of Lifeline Projects, said: “We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. This strategy has been formed through a different approach, a genuine partnership drawing together the Voluntary Sector, the local authority and health sector as equal partners. Working in this way we can give the best chance to our 0–25-year-olds.”

Zina Etheridge, Chief Executive Officer – NHS North East London, said: “Making our area the best place to grow up is one of our top priorities as a health and care partnership. The Best Chance 0-25 strategy has been co-designed with young people, families and partners and sets out a more integrated approach to ensuring our children have the best chance to flourish, to be healthy and to achieve their ambitions. With this clear strategic plan in place, we look forward to working together to improve outcomes with and for our children, young people and their families.”

The strategy was heard at a full council Assembly meeting, held at Barking Town Hall.