This is a chapter of 'Bright Futures: our vision for youth services' – the LGA's long-term vision for youth services and provision.
Councils have a statutory duty to safeguard the wellbeing of all young people in their area. This includes making sure that they are safe, and that their mental, emotional and physical health is looked after.
Councils will want to satisfy themselves that all provision for young people – regardless of who provides this – is delivered by staff trained in safeguarding procedures and who know how to respond to any concerns. They will also want to be sure that practitioners have the appropriate training and skills for their provision.
Training and advice for providers is a key way that councils can support safe, quality provision in their areas. This should reflect the different approach to safeguarding needed for teenagers rather than children, to make sure that all practitioners are aware of the different challenges facing adolescents and are confident in responding to these.
Councils also need to have a strong understanding of their local area and the issues that are affecting young people, as these can change quickly and have considerable impacts in a short space of time. For example, there are emerging criminal activity trends that are more likely to affect young people, such as county lines and gang-related acid attacks; the impact of Brexit is unknown and potentially causing anxiety for those who will be entering the job market at the point of exit from the EU; and the spate of terrorist attacks in England in the summer of 2017 caused an upturn in hate crime, in addition to the inevitable fear felt by residents.
Councils need to be ready to respond swiftly to such changes and challenges by putting in place appropriate services to meet the needs of young people, when they need them. Year-round work with young people, as opposed to time limited interventions, is invaluable in identifying and tackling these new issues quickly. It is also helpful to build in flexibility, where possible, to contracts with commissioned providers so that they are responsive and able to alter provision where necessary to meet arising needs.