- October 17, 2019
- Posted by: Vikki Howells MS
- Category: Latest News
Notes from Anti-Poverty Meeting
St Winifreds Church Hall, Penrhiwceiber
26th September 2019
Vikki Howells AM welcomed all to the meeting and introduced Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government. Vikki made an introductory speech, outlining the reason for the meeting which relates to recent report from Loughborough University which identified Penrhiwceiber as having one of the highest levels of Child Poverty in Wales.
Julie James AM outlined her role as a Government Minister and explained that she was doing an analysis on spend regarding poverty, trying to identify barriers within spend, looking at what is working and what is not. Is there a need to move money around so that it marries up better with agencies. Julie James AM stated that she would like to hear 6 to 7 priorities and learn from attendees. Julie was happy to discuss the effect of welfare cuts but was unable to change this as it was not a devolved area although she would be happy to lobby. Julie asked attendees to be frank and asked what do people see as poverty in communities.
Key points raised were:
- Lack of affordability for parents to take children on holidays
- Impact of costs of holidays is loss of attendance at school during term-time. Could look to review term times at WG Level
- Impact of Child Poverty on learning
- Budget required to support ELSA
- New school grants for uniforms and PDG are useful
- A need for direct school funding with flexibility e.g. CLA
- PDG and ERG, resilient families/social services- figures can be skewed. Schools always seem to be doing more with less
- Communities@work Plus – Barriers are getting into areas. They have a base at Perthcelyn Community Centre, specific post coded areas, free training, mindfulness training, STEPS, support for job interviews, clothing, DBS checks, equipment to name but a few. Recognise the need to work together and will have these discussions.
- Empty properties a blight on community, gives an unwelcome look to areas, unkempt etc.
- Empty property grant available from RCTCBC; £20,000 grant for residents to bring back into use. Plenty going on but challenge is coordination
- An agreement had been reached with WG to commence work at Trefelin Street. Hoping to work with people to upgrade/purchase etc using the affordable rent formula recommended by JRF.
- Trivallis – Can help with Money Advice Teams, keep rents affordable. There is a need for proper partnerships. Concerns regarding Mental Health and Young People.
- Variety of schemes to access at different venues i.e. Fit & Fed initiative, Dads Massage, Training and employment opportunities through Communities@Work, recreational activities such as Lee Gardens Pool, Football etc
- Mental Health amongst young people is a major concern
- Impact of Child Poverty on learning
- Flying Start initiative in the area with committed staff that see cycles of deprivation. Issues such as poor attendance, dental decay etc. There are initiatives being run such as dads massage groups etc
- Flying Start at Penrhiwceiber Primary had a bigger cohort of children and was working well
- Areas merged and some parents now unable or don’t access it due to distance. It’s not seen as local anymore. Also many working parents will use FS or Breakfast Clubs as it’s a cheap childcare option.
- Venues and areas of Flying Start could be looked at. Should definitely be needs-led not based on postcode.
- Julie James stated that consideration could be given to extend the Health Visitor provision to have a wider impact. Very interested in results of work being done on this within RCT and has expansion ideas.
- Trussell Trust stated that figures are stark with a 42% increase in foodbank use in RCT which is the biggest increase in Wales and is driven by issues with access to welfare benefits. Food isn’t the answer to poverty and we need to make sure that people have access to advice and support in addition to foodbanks.
- Mental Health issues are growing amongst young people, even more so in the last 10 years. CAMHS – reporting complexity of young people in the system.
- Most policing issues relate to drink or substances related. Parents need support.
- Biggest barriers to work are transport and aspirations.
Thanks to all who attended.