Our pledge to act
MAKE no mistake, we’ll be acting on the issues that earned us a ‘requires improvement’ rating during the recent Ofsted report into our children’s care services.
A nine-strong team spent three weeks in the borough in November last year – looking at the experiences of children and young people who have needed – or still need – help and/or protection. It included children and young people who are looked after and young people leaving care and starting their lives as young adults.
But it’s worth pointing out that this rating confirms there are no widespread or serious failures that leave children being harmed or at risk of harm. It also underlines the fact that the welfare of looked after children is both safeguarded and promoted.
We’re under no illusions that more improvements need to be made - but it is also the case that children in St Helens are safer today than they were when the last inspection was undertaken in June 2012.
The new inspection framework is considerably more challenging and it’s also worth noting that no local authorities in the North West region have been judged to be ‘good’ since its introduction.
The report praised St Helens Council’s support for newly qualified social workers, its shortened care proceedings (24 weeks – against a national average of 31 weeks) and the help we give to adopters.
It also approved of our direct work with children and individual therapeutic interventions – such as play therapy – to support adopters and concluded that ‘placement stability’ for children was good.
We will of course be complying fully with the requirements of the report and seek continued improvements in our service - in the interests of our children and young people.
WE’RE planning to introduce new 20mph speed limit zones in the borough – as part of a campaign to get people fitter.
Funding from our Public Health team will be used to create restricted areas at Burnage Avenue Estate, Bold; the Concourse Way/Berrys Lane area in Parr; the Forest Road area, Bold; the Gaskell Street area, Parr and the Ridgewood Drive/ Ravenstone Drive area in Sutton.
Research shows that traffic volumes and vehicle speed can deter people from walking and cycling – particularly women, children and elderly people.
Very often it’s simply peoples’ perceptions of injury risk that deters them from walking or cycling – or letting their children go to school on their bike.
Lower traffic speeds create better perceptions of safety and, of course, reduce the actual danger too. People with limited or restricted mobility also find access and travel to places less restrictive in areas with slower speed limits.
By reducing the speed limit to 20 mph, we hope it will provide more opportunities for walking and cycling in these areas - and increase levels of physical activity.
FINALLY, and thinking about the weather forecast, I’d be grateful if everyone could keep an eye on elderly and or vulnerable neighbours over the next few days. According to the Met Office we’re due for cold weather, winds and snow.
In this sort of weather we know that older people and people in poor health tend to stay indoors. And while this is sensible, it’s worth remembering that some people may need help getting to a hospital or GP appointment, with shopping or prescription fetching, or just someone to talk to. If you know someone in this situation, and most of us do, think about what you can you do to help out.