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Breakfast with Pete Dwyer

On Wednesday 1st October One Voice and Churches Together met for a full English breakfast at the Spurriergate Centre.

Our guest was Pete Dwyer the Director of Learning Culture and Children’s Services for the City of York Council.

Pete spoke about the priorities for Children’s Services in York following a recent review by the Council. Having been in his current post for just a year he was keen to have this opportunity to meet with and hear from those involved in the leadership of the church.

He told us that for the vast majority of children in York things go well, but that he is the one that people talk to when it doesn’t.

He read from a pamphlet produced by the council called ‘One in a hundred’. If the statistics were all based on there being 100 children in the LEA instead of the real 39000+ we would see that:

52 would be boys (and therefore 48 girls)
97 would be white British and only 3 from ethnic minorities. 1 would be a traveller.
70 would identify themselves as Christian and only 1 Muslim.
15 would be living in poverty (by the official definition), 1 would be homeless
17 would have special educational needs.
4 boys and 5 girls would be obese.
11 will run away from home at one time, and 1 will stay away for a week.
2 will say that they are lonely all the time and 7 will be bullied at least once a week.
50 children will have lived through their parents divorce by the time they are 16.
15 will have used cannabis, 8 will be regular smokers and 5 will have tried a class A drug.
For 5 of them their father will spend some time in prison.
40 will leave school without 5 grades A*-C at GCSE.

Youth offending is falling, and youth are more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators, in fact at a recent meeting it was the young people who were asking for more police on the streets!

Three major secondary school rebuilds are happening at the moment and there is an expectation of an announcement soon regarding primary school projects

Eight children’s centres are working preventively with families and children, and a ninth is planned.

Peter went on to say that there was a Children and Young Peoples plan – a statutory requirement. – which highlights the key strategic priorities.

The website yorok.org.uk lists services by area, and also gives an opportunity for feedback.

He recognised that churches are not recognised sufficiently for the contribution they make in the voluntary sector and especially with children and young people.

His call to the churches was to check whether we are helping with these strategic goals. He encouraged us to make sure our relevant services are represented on the website too.

Peter agreed that there were pockets of concern about the behaviour young people, but stressed that we could help with places for them to go and things for them to do.  He commented that we need new ways to engage them – what worked a generation ago may not work now. He also agreed that working with the young is holistic work – and that the churches should also look how we can engage with the other providers in helping on the spiritual side too.

The reaction to this breakfast meeting was very positive and we extend our thanks to Pete Dwyer for giving his time to talk to us.

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