An ambitious new strategy designed to help Wolverhampton's children and young people reach their full potential was officially launched before a packed audience at The Way Youth Zone yesterday (Monday 27 January, 2020).

The Youth Engagement Strategy, #YES, was developed following extensive feedback from nearly 12,000 children and young people and their parents and carers and will support 8 to 18 year olds, or up to 25 for those with special educational needs or disabilities, to be healthier, be connected and be heard.

It comes with additional funding of nearly £2 million over the next 3 years which will be used to create a new, city wide youth engagement team, provide better information about and signposting to events and opportunities, and set up a funding pot which young people, families, groups and organisations can use to develop new activities.

Launching the new strategy, developed by the City of Wolverhampton Children and Families Together Board, Leader of the Council Councillor Ian Brookfield said: “We want every child and young person in our city to thrive and hit their full potential, and when I became leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council last May I made this one of my key priorities.

“I also tasked my council colleagues to reprioritise spending and resources in this area, despite the financial challenges we face, including additional funding for The Way and the launch of our hugely successful WV Holiday Squad. To me, it’s that important.

“Over the last few months, I’ve seen for myself the huge amount of good work going on to support our children and young people. But we can – and will – go even further. We are committed to putting children and young people at the heart of what we do, and through #YES I am confident we will change the relationship we have with our city’s youngsters.

"Children and young people have told us very clearly that they want to see more local, community based provision which is open to all. To make this happen, I have secured nearly £2 million in additional funding over the next 3 years for the building blocks to deliver a new approach.

"This is not a short term commitment. We know that making a real and lasting impact on the lives of our children and young people cannot be achieved overnight. We also know that it is not the responsibility of a single person or organisation – it needs everyone in our city to work together, and that’s what we promise to do."

He added: “It was great to see so many organisations – and young people – join us for the official launch of the strategy, and to hear and endorse our city’s vision to give Wolverhampton’s youngsters a brighter future.”

Yesterday's launch event included a range of presentations from individuals and organisations who helped create the strategy, including representatives from the council, Moreton School, InPower Academy, Northern House and Parent and Community Champions, as well as musician Vital who performed his #YES rap. 

The event concluded with the official launch of the City of Wolverhampton Children and Families Together Board’s new Co-Production Charter, which seeks to ensure that the voice of children, young people and families helps shape and deliver better services and support.  

The key priorities of the Youth Engagement Strategy include: 

  1. Investing in a new youth engagement team to better connect youngsters to opportunities available across the city.
  2. Establishing a new fund which young people, families and groups and organisations can use to commission and coproduce new activities, events and opportunities.
  3. Enabling the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, to enjoy the full range of activities on offer in the city.
  4. Developing a new website to promote the wide range of events, activities and opportunities available to children and young people in Wolverhampton all year round, for instance free swimming.
  5. Building on the success of WV Holiday Squad by offering even more school holiday activities for children and young people, starting this February half term.
  6. Providing more physical activity opportunities for children and young people and enabling them to make healthy lifestyle choices.
  7. Developing new emotional wellbeing services.
  8. Celebrating the positive achievements of the city’s children and young people.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "This hugely important strategy is our response to prioritising our city's children and young people. 

"The strategy sets out a direction of travel to enable the city as a whole to make a real and lasting impact on the lives of the children and young people and create opportunities for them to be their very best.

"As well as identifying a range of ways in which we can help our young people be healthy, be connected and be heard, and valuing their contribution in making Wolverhampton a great place to grow up and raise a family, the strategy also recognises the need to involve young people in shaping services, with co-production a key element, and so it was important that we also launched the City of Wolverhampton Children and Families Together Board’s Co-production Charter during the same event.”

Member organisations of the City of Wolverhampton Children and Families Together Board will develop an action plan to focus on the priority areas identified by the strategy.