CSCP Meeting: Covid-19 & Black Lives Matter
The meeting on 16th July 2020 was chaired by Di Smith (CSCP Independent Scrutineer). The meeting was held via Zoom – enabling members to adhere to social distancing but still contribute to the content.
The 2 main areas for discussion were the Covid-19 Pandemic and Black Lives Matter
Reflections From Statutory Partners & Schools
Using slides to demonstrate how the learning during Covid-19 had impacted on managing risk, education & technology, the lived experience of families during lockdown and the ability of the partnership to work together. The response of staff to maintain services has been phenomenal as has the resilience and strength of some families to help themselves. However children with disabilities saw limited support and whilst most referrals have decreased during lockdown, those featuring domestic violence have increased. Staff responded with additional service provision, including weekend opening.
Education reflections were presented by Shelley Davies (Interim Director of Education & Youth Engagement). Croydon schools closed in the early stages of lockdown, but continued to provide a provision for vulnerable children & children of keyworkers. Many parents made the decision to keep children at home and where vulnerable children were not attending, schools were proactive in maintaining contact based on a risk assessment and discussion with a Social Worker where applicable. Food poverty was another vulnerability identified during lockdown, resulting in a significant support scheme which has reached several families not previously known to services. The dedicated email address will remain in place as it enabled same day assistance for these families self referring. Referrals are set to rise based on schools re-opening in September.
In relation to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, Locality Meetings have taken place and 49 schools have established a group called ‘Curriculum & Change’ which promotes diversity, unconscious bias, potential curriculum changes and training. A briefing paper will be discussed at a future CSCP meeting.
The Health reflections were presented by Sally Innis (Associate Director, Safeguarding CHIS).
The partnership working and use of technology has been a strength with the Safeguarding Team quickly adapting and developing its business continuity plan throughout. Staff felt vulnerable working with Covid-19 particularly as to how it might affect them and their families. Health considers it maintained oversight of the most vulnerable children and continues to have weekly meetings to share the information where relevant.
He acknowledged that Covid-19 had brought many challenges, however they had responded by being creative and innovative and consideration is being given as to how the best elements of that can be incorporated into business as usual going forward. Reported levels of Domestic Violence were depressed at the start of the lockdown period, which caused some concern. A number of initiatives were implemented to try and establish peoples lived experiences. Levels of reported crime started to elevate at the end of May. There has been a consistent increase since then and levels are currently higher than the same period last year. With the part closure of schools, normal reporting mechanisms are not available. Hidden abuse and County Lines remain a concern.
Operation NOVI was implemented and targeted visits to the elderly and vulnerable adults. Schools and Youth Officers have been involved in food deliveries to individual homes where teachers have expressed concern. This initiative will come to an end as schools close for the summer break.
The Police linked with the Fire Brigade and the wider NHS community in the Pandemic via a multi-agency cars initiative. The triple crew cars attended sudden deaths where the death was considered to be as a result of COVID-19. This initiative was pulled together quickly in order to protect front line staff and worked well. It has been stood down due to decreasing numbers of deaths.
Various recent public activities and protests have had an impact on safeguarding teams where Public Space Policing has been prioritised, but current levels are manageable.
Neil Cochlin noted that during this time Police Officers have demonstrated their resilience, courage and dedication to their roles in carrying out the full range of their duties, often without the necessary protection.
Di Smith provided a presentation to update the attendees on what the CSCP has been focusing on during covid-19 and in response to the Black Lives Matter campaign. She noted partners have been responsive and decisive in extraordinary circumstances and this was now the time to reflect and start planning for the future.
Reflections From BME Forum & CVA
Andrew Brown (Chief Executive BME Forum) presented a slide pack summarising the challenges and actions the BME Forum have experienced during lockdown and in response to the Black Lives Matter Campaign.
The BME Forum took the decision to extend Mental Health week to 2 weeks. To meet demand they focused on delivering workshops around trauma and anxiety, delivering 14 workshops, with between 30 and 50 people participating in each.
Funding was sourced which meant that culturally appropriate food could be delivered to community members.
Requests for support from the BME Forum have increased dramatically following the death of George Floyd in the USA.
Andrew Brown related some comments relayed to him by young BME people:
Di Smith thanked Andrew Brown for his presentation, especially for bringing the voice of the child into the room by relating their powerful comments and statements.
Steve Phaure (Chief Executive CVA) updated the meeting with reflections from Croydon Voluntary Action.
He also recognised the many strengths identified and how quickly Croydon agencies reacted at the start of the pandemic. The CVA Helpline supported a number of families before the government food parcels were made available, noting that approximately 700 families are currently receiving support in either food parcels, shopping or delivering medicines. A number of safeguarding issues are being highlighted during the volunteer’s calls via the Check, Track, and Connect Scheme.
In addition to the contribution of food from UK Harvest & Fareshare, various Croydon faith communities have been hugely supportive, particularly the Ismaili community and there are over 70 mutual groups currently in Croydon, with approximately 4000 volunteers providing support and making weekly contributions to food stocks. St Mildred’s Church has been particularly supportive. There are 16 food banks collecting food.
The next phase of the CVAs operation is ‘prevention’; tackling food poverty. To enable families to become self-sufficient by supporting them with healthy eating, debt management and avoiding food waste. These initiatives will link into employment and training. Voluntary sector partners will also be available to provide counselling support.
The Young Londoner Fund provides an opportunity to bring health and wellbeing support into schools. The successful bid was made as a result of the recommendations made in the VAR60. The impact of domestic abuse, sexual violence and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has long been recognised. There is a possibility that these may become more prevalent following this 4-month period. There is an appetite in schools to do more of this kind of supportive partnership work.
The Detached Mental Health team at the Croydon drop-in have integrated with the Castle Hills team. There is a desire to mainstream this type of collaborative working. The difficulty is that there are only 8 schools and 2 colleges involved in the Young Londoner programme. There is a desire to link with the NHS Trailblazer initiative.
It is hoped that a significant piece of learning from the COVID-19 pandemic will be how support around the mental health of children and young people can be mainstreamed on a long-term basis.
The other aspect of the Young Londoner programme is around diversionary activities for young people. This includes the delivery of counselling and mentoring within schools. Many of the young people may have issues around confidence, self-esteem and worries about future careers. Linking young people with diversionary activities is important. Arts and culture, sport, environment, digital and work experience are the 5 themes. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed this programme. The CVA have therefore set up a summer holiday programme. There are 10 organisations providing a variety of activities with 280 available places. Some of the activities are accessed online but there are some face-to-face activities. Sadly some of the activities were not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The focus in terms of Black lives Matter is on action. The CVA has set up a meeting between Mentivity, a mentoring organisation primarily led by young black men, and Mott MacDonald to progress work with private businesses in terms of support for mentors. The focus moving forward needs to be on providing opportunities for young people. Employment support is an important element.
Di Smith commented how useful this session had been. Attendees were well engaged. Moving forward she suggested continuing with short virtual meetings of the CSCP but increasing the frequency in order to address issues raised.
The meeting attendees went into 3 separate break out ‘rooms’ – the key messages are detailed here: Breakout Room Highlights
This session was led by Rob Henderson (Executive Director, Children, Families and Education LCB). Feedback included:
- discussions in the breakout sessions would be collated and key issues would be progressed in terms of impacting the future culture of Croydon.
- Stripping back on bureaucracy and making the most of the swift and flexible approaches adopted by the partnership during Covid-19 should be built upon.
- Key themes include the need to communicate with families and the community in terms of language and culture and being sensitive to their individual needs.
- The challenge for this partnership and the LSP will be to think about systems in a holistic way, and to focus on inequalities in terms of food poverty, housing, NRPF and the rights of children and young people.
- In general the community, families and young people have demonstrated they are more resilient than expected. The offer to many families was reduced without negative impact. Many have resolved the conflict that had been present in their relationships. Moving forward the emphasis should be on empowering families and working with the voluntary and community sector to enable families to build resilience.
- Funding and investment is needed to enable resilience. Access to technology and transport will lead to equality of opportunity. The most vulnerable children and young people need to have access to technology and to be able to travel to school in order to have access to education and activities.
- It is anticipated that issues around mental health will emerge during the summer and in September. The number of referrals is likely to increase. There is a need to ensure services have the capacity and capability to respond as well as a need to act on the voice of the child and use it to shape services.
- Action in the short-term is for agencies to link over summer schemes and mentoring and use the information to shape the curriculum moving forward in terms of BLM.
Friday 6 November 2020
Time: 9.00am – 12.00pm