Friday, 30 November 2012

Leeds youth offending team is double award winner

A programme developed by Leeds youth offending service to help girls at risk of offending, has won two industry awards this month.

At the Annual Youth Justice Convention held last week, the Leeds youth offending service (YOS) was announced as the winner of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Innovation Award and also the ‘John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice’, for a programme the team developed to help reduce offending by girls.

The award is given out by the YJB to youth offending services and secure establishments which have demonstrated particularly innovative and imaginative ways of working with young people to prevent them from offending and reoffending.

The YJB said that Leeds was chosen because “of the comprehensiveness of the approach taken to deliver excellent services to girls in the youth justice system. It is a fantastic example of targeted innovation set in the context of the international evidence base, and grounded in a thorough analysis and understanding and the specific needs of girls receiving support from the YOS”.

The winning programme set up by Leeds YOS has a ‘virtual team’ of specialist workers across the service in order to develop their work with girls, recognising that providing the same services to both boys and girls does not produce equitable outcomes. A key objective of the programme is to provide the court with a range of options equal to those that they have for boys, particularly as alternatives to custody.

The team developed a programme including a range of modules around self-esteem; healthy relationships; sexual health; managing strong emotions and cognitive skills. All YOS groups are now run on a single-gender basis and consideration is given to the working environment.

The YJB were impressed that in addition to the important structural changes such as the creation of a policy specific to girls, and the creation of a girls specialist, the Leeds YOS created some really exciting and innovative interventions for girls, creating a menu of interventions for case managers to refer to based on the individual needs they uncover. They also said another great strength in the Leeds approach is their rigorous commitment to evaluating the impact of the work.

As well as the YJB Innovation award, the team also won the first ‘John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice’ from the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) for the same programme.

Gareth Jones AYM Vice Chair said:
“The girls programme implemented by Leeds YOS was a worthy first winner of the John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice by AYM members or the Yots they represent. John would have thoroughly approved.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services said:
'Winning these awards is a fantastic recognition of the hard work the team has put into developing and implementing the programme, which is not only helping these young women turn their lives around it is also making our communities safer.

“To win two awards for the same programme is proof that this team is leading the way in this area of youth offending practice.”

John Hawkins was the Head of East Sussex YPT and Treasurer of the AYM for over ten years until his untimely death last year.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Leeds children take on council communications challenge

Children from two Leeds primary schools took over Leeds City Council’s communications team for one day last week to help spread the ‘anti-litter’ message across the city.

Children from Bardsey Primary School and Immaculate Heart of Mary Primary School arrived at Leeds Civic Hall ready for work on Takeover Day 2012, Friday 23 November.

As part of their ‘takeover’ the children visited the council chamber where they met Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services. Cllr Blake spoke about how important it is for children and young people to have a say in issues that matter to them and explained about how the council has plans to make Leeds a Child Friendly City.

The children also had the chance to sit in the Lord Mayor’s chair and say what they would do to improve Leeds if they were in charge of the city. Suggestions included fining over-16s for dropping litter and installing talking bins to encourage people to keep Leeds clean.

The young honorary communications team members also met with Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council and told him about their about their plans to encourage people in Leeds to keep their city clean.

The children’s challenge for the day was to come up with a communications campaign to persuade people in Leeds to stop dropping litter, which included designing images and slogans with assistance from a member of the council’s creative services team who was on hand to give expert advice on making the designs clear and eye-catching.

The young people also used Twitter to tell people about their anti-litter campaign and asked celebrities for follows and re-tweets to boost the number of people following the Child Friendly Leeds Twitter feed @child_Leeds. Their efforts proved very successful as they added another 50 followers during their time as communications officers.

One pupil from Immaculate Heart of Mary Primary School said: “Takeover day has been excellent and I’ve really enjoyed it. You got to do what people really do in the council communications team. I’ve learned how to design posters and do things on the internet like tweeting.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services said:
“It was great meeting with such enthusiastic young people. I was very impressed with their confidence and intelligent questions and opinions.

“Takeover day is a great opportunity for children and young people to find out first hand what a work environment is really like. I’m sure some of these children will be members of our communications team in the future!”

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713