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ISSUE 49 - July/August 2011
Policy E-Newsletter


In this issue:
Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into child sexual exploitation
Parliamentary, public debate on the Equality Act 2010
Update on the Mayor of London’s work for young people

We have now settled into new premises. Our new address is c/o Voluntary Sector Services, London International Press Centre, 76 Shoe Lane, London EC4A 3JB. Tel 020 7842 8533.

Mental health and criminal justice

ROTA event on criminal justice and mental health

Over 80 delegates gathered to discuss key concerns, gaps in service delivery and areas of opportunity in mental health and criminal justice at a 21st July ROTA/Action for Advocacy event.

Speakers’ presentations and table discussions explored areas of current thinking on the state of offender health provision, steps for improving the physical and mental health of those in the criminal justice system, difficulties with diversion services, extreme trauma and propensity to violence. For information about the event or to be involved in ROTA’s work in this area, please contact Anthony@rota.org.uk. To access the event report, photographs and speaker presentations, visit our event webpage here.

Children, young people and education

Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into child sexual exploitation

In autumn 2011, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner will launch an Inquiry into children’s experiences of sexual exploitation. As a member of the advisory group to the Inquiry, ROTA will be feeding in findings from our Female Voice and Violence project, highlighting the impact of serious youth violence on girls under 18. We will also submit evidence from our recent work with MiNet, detailing the impact of reduced public funding on child abuse levels in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. If you are aware of emerging or undocumented issues of relevance to the Inquiry, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, ROTA, on e: barbara@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7842 8531.

Children’s Commissioner's Inquiry into school exclusions

On 13 July, Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, launched a 12 week Inquiry into patterns of school exclusions.

The Inquiry will examine a number of areas including:

  • whether the system is consistent with children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and;

  • the decision making process up to the point of exclusion and whether schools and other public bodies are meeting the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

ROTA’s submission to the Inquiry will draw on a number of concerns around school exclusions identified in our research into education and serious youth violence.

Our briefing on the Government’s education white paper revealed concerns about the potential disproportionate impact of proposed changes to the exclusion appeals process on BAME children and young people, in particular African Caribbean and Gypsy, Traveller and Roma boys. Our Female Voice in Violence research has also identified the risks associated with the placement of girls who have been excluded from school in male dominated pupil referral units.

If you work with children and young people who face educational inequality, in particular disproportionate rates of exclusion and unfair exclusions, we urge you to reply to this Inquiry. If you do not have the capacity to respond, but would like to have your input, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, on e: barbara@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7842 8531.

To find out more about the Inquiry and how to participate, please visit here.


National Black Supplementary Schools Week

This year’s National Black Supplementary Schools Week will take place between 21 and 27 August. To find out more about events and how to get involved, visit the National Association of Black Supplementary Schools (NABSS) website. NABSS are currently offering organisations the opportunity to set up stalls or publicise their work at various events during the week for minimal cost. To find out more, contact Nia Imara at NABSS on e: info@nabss.org.uk or t: 079 5834 8558.


Alternative provision

A new set of statistics issued by the Department for Education earlier this month has again highlighted how alternative provision is failing vulnerable children and young people. The statistics, which are available here, show that only 1.4 per cent of young people in alternative provision in 2009/10 achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A* - C, compared with 53.4 per cent in all mainstream schools in England.

ROTA is deeply concerned by these findings. The poor quality of service exacerbates the negative impact of disproportionate exclusion rates on certain groups of BAME pupils, who, evidence suggests, are often excluded for reasons other pupils would not be excluded for.

A recent review conducted by ROTA highlighted how children and young people in alternative provision are among the most vulnerable in education. Half of those in alternative provision have been, or are at risk of exclusion. The other half include those who require medical treatment, refugees, teenage mothers, those with school phobias and those waiting for a school place. For a copy of ROTA’s review on ‘BAME children and young people and alternative provision’, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, on e: barbara@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7842 8531.

Equality Act 2010

Parliamentary, public debate on the Equality Act 2010

On 27 June 2011, the Draft Specific Duties were laid before parliament. The duties signal a notable reduction of government direction on how public authorities can meet the general equality duty. Debated in the House of Commons on 11 July, the Specific Duties will require public authorities in Great Britain to publish annual information to demonstrate their compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty and to produce equality objectives, at least every four years, by April 2012. The parliamentary debate on the Draft Specific Duties coincides with the ongoing scrutiny of the Equality Act via the Red Tape Challenge website. ROTA's call to action encourages its members to take this opportunity to inform of the value of the Equality Act and the importance of specific duties that people can use to hold public authorities to account.


Making sense of equalities requirements – free briefing sessions

ROTA will now be delivering briefing sessions on equalities - outlining different forms of discrimination, explaining legal requirements for public bodies and describing how these have been used to overturn decisions to cut voluntary sector funding - across a selection of London boroughs. The briefing sessions will be free but we are restricted on numbers. If you or somebody from your organisation may be interested in attending one of these sessions, please email Anthony@rota.org.uk.

Criminal justice

Ministry of Justice research on NOMS Offender Management Model

A recent Ministry of Justice publication (July 2011) based on research into factors affecting the operation and impact of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Offender Management Model has now been released.

This study was undertaken to capture the perspectives of Offender Managers, intervention key workers and those directly involved in administrating cases. Findings from the report were mixed, demonstrating positive offender outcomes despite a lack of resources, staff sickness, high turnover and demanding caseloads. Although steps were taken to reflect diversity by including different probation areas, the report’s findings also lack a specific equality focus. You can download the report in full here.


BAME children and young people’s mental health needs are “overlooked”

In July, the Afiya Trust launched the report from its latest research project looking at the experiences of BAME children and young people with mental health needs. The report claims that BAME children and young people are being overlooked in the planning and provision of services that can address their mental health needs. 'Enjoy, Achieve and Be Healthy: The mental health of Black and minority ethnic children and young people’, is the result of a policy overview and consultation with 11 to 25-year-olds. It highlights that BAME children are receiving insufficient and ineffective consideration due to their age and ethnicity.

The report’s author states that BAME children and young people “are more likely to come to the attention of services at the point of crisis, yet there appears to be no significant progress in redressing this injustice.”

Around 20 percent of children and young people are believed to have a mental health problem, yet there is no indication how many are from a BAME background.

  • Despite a breakdown of disorders being available for BAME adults, none is available for BAME children and young people, and has yet to be explained why

  • Risk factors highlighted for children and young people regarding mental health fail to include racism, racial harassment or racist bullying

Patrick Vernon, Chief Executive of The Afiya Trust, said: "The Afiya Trust commissioned this report in recognition that BME children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is being systematically failed by education, criminal justice, health and social care services. The report captures the challenges they face, the ineffectiveness of service provision and the woeful lack of the most basic information about them.”

To find out more and to access the report, please visit here.

London news

Community Conversations Programme

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is hosting a series of local events in parts of London to work with communities that suffer from high levels of youth violence, as part of his Community Conversations programme. Given the disproportionate impact of serious youth violence on BAME young people, we encourage those working in this area to engage in the Community Conversations Programme.

To find out more, please visit here.

To read more about ROTA’s six year programme of work on serious youth violence, which has informed the Mayor’s work on these issues, please visit our website here.

Update on the Mayor of London’s work for young people

On 21 July, the Mayor renewed his commitment to children and young people through his new 'Young Londoners – successful futures' agenda. Building on the Mayor’s Time for Action Strategy, which ROTA has been involved in over the years, 'Young Londoners' sets out what the Mayor is planning to do to make London a great place for young Londoners.

The plan has information about all the activities that will be going on in the next two years for young Londoners to take part in, and what positive changes are being planned.

As part of ‘Young Londoners’ the Greater London Authority are currently doing six things:

  • Listening to what children and young people have to say about London and how it’s run

  • Stopping child poverty

  • Helping families

  • Making sure that more young people are in education, training or employment

  • Working with children in care

  • Tackling youth crime.

The Mayor is keen to find out how young Londoners feel about these plans. If you work with young BAME people or are a young BAME person, we encourage you to get involved in the Mayor’s work. To find out more about how to get involved, please visit here. If you would like ROTA’s support in engaging in the Mayor’s work, please contact Barbara Nea, Senior Policy Officer, on e: barbara@rota.org.uk or t: 020 7842 8531.

About Time for Action

In November 2008 the Mayor launched Time for Action – his plan to equip young Londoners for their future and to prevent violence.

Time for Action contains the six key strands of work that the Mayor believes need to be addressed for genuine change to take place. Since the launch of Time for Action, the Greater London Authority has been developing the proposals and is now starting to contribute towards outcomes.

The following bullets provide an update on the six key strands of work:

  • Project Daedalus aims to break the cycle of youth re-offending (78 per cent re-offend within two years of release) by delivering intensive support, which begins inside custody and continues beyond the prison gate upon release into the community to improve the chances of successful resettlement.

  • Project Brodie aims to raise attainment and reduce the risk of offending by keeping young people in education. In particular, Project Brodie aims to address truancy, by working with schools and councils to focus on keeping children in school. The Mayor will coordinate action on this and will work with partners to ensure results.

  • Mayor’s Scholars aims to help young people in care to achieve their academic potential by giving children in the care system individual educational assistance. Through this element of his work for children and young people, the Mayor is also supporting a number of new Academies in deprived London neighbourhoods. Additionally, the Mayor is helping young Londoners find the right skills to access available apprenticeship opportunities, including in the GLA group itself.

  • Project Titan aims to build character, self respect and responsibility.

  • Project Oracle aims to understand and share learning about what really works with young people.

  • Sport and Music for All aims to give more young Londoners the opportunity to participate in high quality sport & cultural activities.

The Mayor’s mentoring programme for young Black boys

As part of the Time for Action strategy, the Mayor also runs a mentoring programme targeted at young Black boys, due to their greater risk of becoming involved in violence as victims and perpetrators in the capital. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has recently recruited 1,700 people to volunteer as part of this programme.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or would like to publicise this opportunity among your community members, you can find out more here. The Mayor is looking for mentors with real life experience rather than academic qualifications.

On 21 July, the GLA announced that the University of East London would lead a consortium of organisations to roll out the Mayor’s mentoring scheme to hundreds of boys aged 10 – 16.

The scheme has been developed by the Mayor’s Mentoring Ambassador Ray Lewis, who runs the East Side Academy which successfully helps boys at risk of exclusion, and is championed by football legend Ian Wright, who has helped turn around the lives of many young offenders through mentoring.

The seven boroughs involved in the scheme are Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Waltham Forest and Southwark.

Read more about the mentoring scheme here.

Giving young people access to wealth, rather than simply welfare

The Mayor believes that one of the most effective ways of keeping a young person out of trouble is through work.

Based on this belief, as part of the Time for Action programme, the Greater London Authority are putting pressure on employers and local authorities to take on more local young people, and especially more young offenders, to train them up and provide them with employment skills.

Girls and gangs

In response to the work of ROTA and partners in highlighting the impact of serious youth violence on girls, a key element of the Mayor’s Time for Action programme includes a focus on girls and gangs, linked to the Mayor’s Violence against women and girls strategy, The Way Forward. ROTA continues to inform the GLA in this area, recently presenting survey findings on service delivery at the GLA's Violence against women and girls panel.

Stopping young victims from becoming young offenders

There is a clear link between young victims of violent crime becoming offenders themselves. The Mayor aims to improve information sharing and coordination in this area in order to provide services that help break that link.

Addressing young offenders with mental health issues

Services for young offenders with mental health issues vary across London. The GLA are developing work with the NHS, boroughs and the Youth Justice Board to ensure services are appropriate for young Londoners in custody and continue when they are released, so they become less likely to re-offend.

Young people not in employment, education or training

Just over 5% of 16 to 18 year-olds are not in education, employment or training in London. While this is better than the average for England as a whole (over 6%), the Mayor is working with a number of organisations to address the underlying causes and improve this figure further.

National news

Open Public Services white paper

On 19 July, Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin, launched the Open Public Services white paper, which he claims will improve public services and help create genuine social mobility by putting more control in the hands of individuals, businesses and neighbourhoods.

The white paper sets out the Government’s approach through the principles of choice, decentralization, diversity, fairness and accountability.

ROTA supports the key principles of choice and diversity in public services, but has some concerns about the proposed reforms.

Public services are essential to BAME communities, who are more reliant as both service users and employees than the general population. However, standards and access have been reported to be of variable standard, so reform and improvement is vital.

If the reforms are to ensure equality, it is essential that, before new providers are commissioned, public bodies are able to demonstrate that services will be able to promote equality of access, opportunity and outcomes for BAME communities in keeping with duties under the Equality Act 2010. We also have concerns relating to the challenges faced by BAME organisations in engaging in commissioning. In order for the ideas presented in the Open Public Services white paper to succeed, the Government will need to ensure that commissioners at all levels are truly empowered to take risks and to value social impact over pure cost considerations, and importantly that organisations can access the working capital they need to be able to participate – for example on a payment by results basis – to capitalise on these opportunities and compete on a level playing field.

The feedback period will run until September 2011.

To find out more about the consultation, please visit here.


Equality Impact Assessment on English for Speakers of Other Languages

John Hayes, Minster for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, announced on Monday the long awaited Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) on the changes to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) policy for 2011/12. The EIA recommends no changes to Skills Funding Agency (SFA) eligibility for ESOL or to the government’s skills strategy, Skills for Sustainable Growth. Only learners on Jobseekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance (work related activity group) will receive full funding for ESOL courses from 1 August 2011. All other adult learners who currently get fees paid will be charged up to 50%. Read more from Migrants’ Rights Network here.

Download the online Runnymede Bulletin for free

The summer 2011 edition of the Runnymede Bulletin, focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) experiences, is now available. Articles include:

  • Racism in the gay community

  • Homophobia in Jamaican culture

  • The plight of gay asylum seekers

  • LBGT people and the US Civil Rights Movement

To read the Runnymede Bulletin, a finalist in the category of Specialist Magazine for the 2010 Digital Magazine Awards, visit here.

Member news

Would you like to share an exciting news item with ROTA’s wide network of organisations and individuals with an interest in promoting solutions to disadvantage and inequality? In anticipation of the launch of the member news section of the Policy E-Newsletter, ROTA invites members to submit information on new research, events and news items on topics in criminal justice, health and education. If you would like to become a member, please sign-up here.

For the September edition, please email your items to Ryan Mahan, ryan@rota.org.uk, by 5pm on Monday 29 August.



Race on the Agenda
c/o Voluntary Sector Centre, International Press Centre
76 Shoe Lane London EC4A 3JB
Tel: 020 7842 8533 Fax: 020 7842 8535

Email: rota@rota.org.uk




About the newsletter
Our policy newsletter provides a monthly update on developments under our three policy priorities – health, education and criminal justice – as well as from our policy projects which fall under these areas. It also provides a more general update, from ROTA and MiNet, on London policy developments which are likely to impact on BAME communities.