11 February 2021| | 2 min read
Call for city to unite to beat post-Covid inequality
City council leader Cllr Nick Forbes is calling on the city to come together to make sure no young person is left behind due to the pandemic.
Ahead of finalising the budget, the council is proposing to set aside £500,000 to leverage more support and resources to tackle inequalities and support hard-pressed families.
Cllr Forbes is calling for the same collaborative approach that has been taken to develop a plan to make the city carbon neutral by 2030 to the challenge of helping ensure young people in particular are given every opportunity to flourish in a post-Covid world.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, child poverty had increased to 40% of children in Newcastle and prospects at Key Stage 4 were already starting from a challenging base. The sudden closure of schools has impacted upon the education and wellbeing of children.
“It takes a village to raise a child, but a city to raise a generation,” said Cllr Forbes. “Despite the fantastic efforts of our teachers and support staff, there is no doubt the disrupted education our children have endured could have a profound impact on their life chances.
“Added to the economic reality that it is young people who are most affected in terms of employment, there is a real need for us all to come together to help create an environment for them to thrive.”
The city council is proposing to allocate £200,000 to support the development of Children and Families Newcastle, which is planned to launch later this year. This new service will work with children and families to ensure they get earlier, community-based support that tackles inequalities and supports all children to thrive.
The remaining £300,000 would be used to kick-start a city-wide campaign aimed at getting support to the children and families who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The partnership approach will be aimed at ensuring that all children and young people are able to catch up on missed education, to take advantage of training and employment opportunities and are not held back by emotional or mental health issues that have resulted from or been worsened by the pandemic.
The whole city, including health, social care, education, housing and employers need to work together to make sure that no child is left behind.
Through the campaign, partners in the city will be asked to contribute financial and practical ways to support our children and young people. For example, this could be donating or funding IT equipment to support remote learning or supporting activities or events to safely promote physical and emotional wellbeing.
It would build upon the successful work already taking place in the city that has helped children learn at home, provided access to mental health support and counselling and ensured early help and protection for children who are experiencing harm.
Cllr Forbes said: “We’ve already seen how much we can achieve when partners across the city work together and right now we know that there are many children and families who need help.
“Disruption to education, reduction in income and loss of employment are just some of the issues families are having to face as a direct result of the pandemic.
“Many children will need additional support to catch up on their studies, some may need extra help getting back into school and others will need help making the transition from education into the workplace. This transition can be even more challenging for those who are vulnerable or who have special educational needs or disabilities. It’s vital that organisations work together to ensure these young people have access to the same opportunities as they enter adulthood.
“And sadly, there are children and young people in need of care and support to help them cope with the impact of experiencing abuse, neglect and domestic violence – situations which, for many, will have been worsened by the additional intense pressure of being in lockdown.
“We’re asking businesses and organisations across all sectors to come together to help families in need through these difficult times so that children and young people are not left to deal with the consequences later in life.”
Details of the campaign will be launched in spring but businesses, partners and residents are asked to think now about how they may be able to contribute.
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