To receive reports from the three Cabinet Champions on their work during the 2020/21 Municipal Year. The Champions are as follows:
· COVID-19 Recovery – Cllr Sue Carter
· Education and Youth – Cllr Peter Cullum
· Armed Forces – Cllr Jacqui Vosper
The Committee welcomed the three Cabinet Champions, Cllr Sue Carter (COVID-19 Recovery Champion), Cllr Peter Cullum (Education and Skills Champion) and Cllr Jacqui Vosper (Armed Forces Champion) who had been invited to give reports on their work during the 2020/21 Municipal Year.
Education and Skills – Cllr Peter Cullum gave an overview of his year as Education and Skills Champion. It was noted that the Council had a limited statutory input in local education and any initiatives had to be carried out with support from the County Council and national educational organisations.
Cllr Cullum advised that initially he had met with the County Council Education and Skills Portfolio Holder, Cllr Roz Chadd, to get a general overview of the situation across the County. This had led to meetings with the head teachers at the local secondary schools and colleges, local employment agencies and representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to further discuss education and employment opportunities for young people. During these discussion it was evident that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths should be encouraged in the local schools due to the aerospace focus within the Borough. As a result, Cllr Cullum advised that he, in consultation with the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), had arranged engagement for the schools with a project called “Cool Aeros”. This initiative invited young people to consider aerospace opportunities.
A sense of place had also been raised as an issue for Rushmoor’s young people. Cllr Cullum advised that he was currently in the process of creating an infographic highlighting the major features of the Borough to help young people gain a sense of place.
Other initiatives included apprenticeship schemes and work was being undertaken with the Council’s employment support officer and the FSB to establish the benefits of these government schemes.
The Committee discussed the report and raised queries around grading and Ofsted reports and mental health issues as a result of the pandemic. It was noted that it was difficult to know at present data was not readily available. However, individual schools would be able to provide information on their particular circumstances, especially around the grading of year 11 pupils.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Cullum for his report.
Armed Forces – Cllr Jacqui Vosper advised that a number of projects had not been progressed due to the pandemic during 2020/21. However, some activities had continued, inlcluding:
· Covenant Legislation – Cllr Vosper advised that she had led a Housing Sub Group which had been established to look at homelessness and housing allocation for service and ex-service personnel to inform the legislation of the Armed Forces Bill which was currently being considered in Parliament.
· COVID Response - The Council had liaised with the Military on issues relating to the pandemic, in particular, to ensure that messaging had been integrated and consistent.
· Census 2021 – Work had been ongoing regarding the arrangements for Census 2021. Liaison work would continue until late April, 2021.
· Education - The Covenant Partnership has been looking at outcomes for students from military families, particularly at A-Level, and the prospects for attending university/higher education. Work with Hart, Basingstoke and Deane and representatives from the 6th Form College was underway to look at improved data collection to help understand this issue in more detail.
· Events – It was reported that events had been limited during the pandemic with the exception of VE and VJ days and the Remembrance events. It was hoped that more events would start to be held towards the end of 2021 and into 2022.
· Garrison Community Hub – it was advised that the military had been upgrading and extending the offer at the former Connaught Centre – this included work on a new café and meeting space and an outdoor playground. Later in the year the facility would be made available for use to the wider community as well as those with a military connection, such as local veterans. In addition, for the local veterans, a hub would be opened at the Military Museum and a repair café in Aldershot Town Centre later in the year.
· Defence Employers’ Recognition Scheme Gold Award - In 2019, it was noted that the Council had the Silver Award. Consideration was now being given to making an application for the Gold Award. It was noted that a number of changes would need to be made to the Council’s working arrangements and these would need to be demonstrated over a period of time. It was hoped that the application would be made in 2023.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Vosper for her presentation.
COVID-19 Response – Cllr Sue Carter reported that there were a lot of positives happening locally despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic. The Helpline and local response networks, set up through Rushmoor Voluntary Services (RVS), had dealt with over 1,300 cases to date. A key outcome from this work would be to embed some of the positive changes into business as usual work.
Other areas where Cllr Carter had been able to get involved included:
· Education – The closure of the schools had had a huge impact on teachers, families and children. The circumstances had had an impact on the mental health of some young people and organisations such as CAMHS, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) were providing measures to help in this area.
· Rushmoor Youth Forum – Cllr Carter advised on the Rushmoor Youth Forum (RYF). The Forum brought together 32 agencies to work collaboratively to move support work forward to help address issues present in young people. Rushmoor Youth Influence (RYI), a group established for 15-30 year olds, fed into the work of the RYF giving the perspective of the younger generation to the work to the Forum. It was hoped that the work of the RYI group would grow to incorporate a buddying scheme to raise confidence and inspire each other.
The Council’s Supporting Communities Strategy has identified young people as a priority group. The role of the RYF would be pivotal to engaging young people, prioritising their needs and identifying projects to support them in the longer term recovery phase.
It was hoped that a Shadow Youth Council (SYC) could be launched in September, following the beginning of the new school year. By launching a SYC it would allow young people to have a place to speak and be heard alongside gaining an understanding of local government and the voluntary sector. A SYC would be able to help articulate the needs of young people in a post COVID society and support the Council’s main priorities, such as tackling climate change.
· Communications – it was noted that the arrangements for Members to receive regular briefings throughout the pandemic had worked well enabling information to be provided quickly and effectively. The extensive work with the Nepali community had also been noted.
· Vaccination Sites – it was noted that the sites had been in operation since December, 2020. Although they were operated by the NHS, the Council had been providing support. Vaccination availability had been an issue, but the numbers vaccinated across Rushmoor was a credit to partnership working.
· Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing – This was a huge area being worked on by many partner agencies which affected many people, young and old. Signposting to help was being carried out through social media and it was important to ensure schools/pupils had access to relevant information.
In addition, it was also advised that communities were working together on initiatives, in particular Men’s Shed facilities in Westheath and Aldershot Town Centre. The Men’s Sheds would be a community and skills sharing hub for both men and women.
· Rushmoor Food Hub – this initiative would be central to the recovery process. Using Government funding it was intend to provide a community driven solution to support the local community.
· Partnership working – during the pandemic evidence of strong partnerships work between the public and voluntary/community sectors had emerged. The Council had developed strong working relationships with many organisations which would assist in the recovery processes and help deliver lasting improvements to the local community. Key partners included North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group, Hampshire Adults and Children Services, Citizens’ Advice, RVS and VIVID Housing. This work would give a robust platform to move forward and address health and wellbeing issues.
In response to a query regarding feedback from residents on the Borough’s handling of the pandemic it was acknowledged that most feedback had been extremely positive. It was noted that thanks should be conveyed to the Officers and partner organisation/charities for their hard work and efforts during these extremely challenging times.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Carter for her report.