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Strengthening families and protecting children in Sefton

Sefton Council is rolling out pioneering new methods to support families of vulnerable children following a successful bid for Government funding.

Sefton is one of 15 local authorities to be awarded a share of £84m of new Department for Education innovation funding, which will help to reduce the number of children entering care by improving family stability.

Adopting the Family Valued model used so successfully by Leeds Council, Sefton and its partners  will work with families to encourage long term changes to keep children safe.

The new project will see families receive person centred care and support at every step as strong relationships are fostered between workers and families.

These close relationships will mean that issues such as addiction, domestic violence and mental health can be tackled as they arise, creating a more stable environment for children.

 Cllr. John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, said:

“The funding from the DfE will be a catalyst for our family centred approach to supporting children at risk – adopting the Family Valued model represents an opportunity to make a lasting difference to those children by supporting their family units.”

Find out more about Strengthening Families and its projects across the UK at the Government website

Sefton Council proposes Council Tax changes for empty and uninhabitable homes

Sefton Council is proposing changes to Council Tax discount on empty and uninhabitable properties, with home owners in the borough currently receiving the most generous discounts in the Liverpool City Region.

The Council recently launched an online consultation to garner the views of local residents on the proposed changes, which could see properties vacant for less than one month have their discount reduced from 100% to 50%, while those houses that are uninhabitable will be liable for the full Council Tax amount.

Cllr. Paulette Lappin, Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said:

“In Sefton we have nearly 180 homes that are unfit to occupy, and a further 435 homes that are empty – all of these properties receive Council Tax discounts that are generous when compared with our Liverpool City Region neighbours.

“By reducing the relief that owners of these properties receive, we will incentivise them to ensure they are occupied or in the case of those not fit for purpose, take the necessary steps to improve them and make them suitable for human habitation.

“At a time when we are creating new homes to support families now and as demand increases, encouraging landlords to improve the quality and availability of existing priorities is a big priority for the council.”

This quick five minute survey is open until November 1. Take part by clicking the Your Sefton Your Say website

Social Workers Jenny and Justine gear up for epic charity cycling adventure

Two best friends of two decades who have worked together at Sefton Council for 20 years will undertake the challenge of a lifetime for three women’s cancer charities in 2020.

Social Workers Jenny Stuart (pictured with blonde hair) and Justine Hoiles (pictured with brunette hair) will embark on a gruelling 416km cycle challenge from Bangkok to Koh Samui in Thailand to raise money for Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

The Women V Cancer Cycle Thailand 2020 Challenge will take place over nine days in October 2020, with around 60 female challengers cycling a stunning route that takes in the Sam Roi Yot National Park and the Gulf of Thailand.

Jennifer and Justine, who first became friends in September 1998 on their first day at Riversdale College in Aigburth, Liverpool where they both undertook an Access to Higher Education course, are hoping to raise almost £7,000 between them in sponsorship to donate to the charities.

Jenny, who lives in Formby and now works as a psychotherapist with Sefton Council’s Therapeutic Support Team in Ainsdale, is taking on the challenge after her mum was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy.

Justine, a Sefton Council Social Worker from Crosby, has lost several family members to cancer and decided to take part in the event after spotting an advert for it in a magazine.

Both women are now completing a training programme to ensure they are fit and ready for their epic adventure, and planning a series of fundraising events to help raise their sponsorship money.

Jenny said: “When my mum was diagnosed with cancer I felt so helpless and I wanted to do something massive to try and make a difference. I had always thought she was indestructible and then I suddenly realised she wasn’t, so I wanted to do something to help.

“Justine and I are both Social Workers and our instinct is to fix things; we both wanted to do something on a big scale that would raise a significant amount of money and make a difference in some way.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and really exciting. It will definitely push us out of our comfort zone but we are both pretty active and we have been doing lots of cardio and cycling to prepare for it – I have never pushed myself so hard.

“Next year, 2020, both Justine and I will have worked for the council for 20 years and we have been best friends for 20 years so it seemed like the perfect time to do it.

“We met on our first day at training college and we have been best friends ever since. We’ve been there for each other every step of the way and I can’t think of anyone else I would want to do something like this with. It will be an amazing experience.”

Justine said: “Cancer has affected so many people and it’s so common. I have lost family members to it and I know how devastating it can be.

“This is a daunting challenge, not just in terms of the route itself but also the training and the fundraising, and we both feel quite exposed, nervous and vulnerable. But our friends, families and colleagues have been so supportive and we will be taking on the challenge with 60 other wonderful women so we know we’ll achieve it.

“Neither of us has ever done anything like this before and we’re so excited. To be doing it together, and sharing the experience with all the other cyclists who have all lost people to cancer too, will be a very special experience.”

To support Jenny and Justine on their incredible journey visit their Just Giving pages at https://www.justgiving.com/Jennifer-Stuart76 and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Justine-Hoiles1

To find out more about the Women V Cancer Cycle Thailand 2020 Challenge visit https://www.dream-challenges.com/challenges/women-v-cancer/women-v-cancer-cycle-thailand-2020/

Reviewing Officer Audrey celebrates 40 years at Sefton Council – and counting!

A Reviewing Officer from Sefton Council’s Adult Social Care team is celebrating after spending 40 years working for Sefton Council – and plans to continue until her retirement.

Audrey Forkings, 56, began her career with the authority as a carer in July 1979, helping vulnerable adults across Sefton.

She has since progressed to work as a Home Care Supervisor and on to her current role as Reviewing Officer with Sefton’s Adult Social Care team, providing help and support to people in the borough when they need it.

Her long career has seen her support individuals and families in the borough through difficult times and crises, and she has twice been nominated for a Sefton Council ‘STAR Award’ – awarded to employees who go the extra mile and achieve exceptional results in their roles.

Looking back on her 40 years Audrey, who has lived in Southport for most of her life and has three children aged 12, 16 and 22, says she feels “proud” to still be working in a job that makes a difference to peoples’ lives.

She said: “I am so lucky to be able to say I still love my job after all these years. Being able to help people going through tough times is a real privilege and never stops being rewarding.

“My job is so diverse and every day brings a new challenge and opportunity. I still go in to work each day looking forward to what the day will bring.

“I work with an amazing team and over the years I have worked with so many lovely colleagues who I now class as great friends.

“A career highlight was when my team and I were twice nominated for a STAR Award, which we won at last year’s event. It was a wonderful moment for us all, and we all felt very honoured.

“I still plan to stay in my role for many years yet and I look forward to what the future holds. I don’t have a set date in mind for retirement yet, but when I do I’ll look back on a job that’s made me feel very happy and fulfilled. I’m proud to have helped make a difference.”

Jerry O’Sullivan, Project Manager for Adult Social Care at Sefton Council and Audrey’s manager, says Audrey is a “great asset” to the team and continues to go the extra mile.

He said: “Audrey is a joy to work alongside. Not only is she conscientious and hard-working, she is also a brilliant practitioner who delivers everything with a smile.

“Even in very difficult situations, her warmth and understanding helps service users, their carers and families achieve the very best outcomes and she is regularly complemented for her compassion and support.

“She is a great asset to the team and she still goes the extra mile and gives 100%, even after 40 years. Her length of service, commitment, hard-work and dedication are all things she should be incredibly proud of. It’s a fantastic achievement.”

Deborah Butcher, Interim Director of Adult Social Care at Sefton Council, said: “We are incredibly lucky in Sefton to have such dedicated staff across all of our teams. Audrey is a great advocate for vulnerable people and their families in Sefton.”

Pride, friendship and new beginnings for LGBTQ+young people

In Sefton’s Year of Friendship, LGBTQ+ young people from Sefton will show solidarity with their peers and represent the borough at the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Pride March this weekend (July 27, 11:45am).

The young people form the New Beginnings LGBTQ+ youth group are stalwarts of the march, and will this year welcome a special guest along in the form of Sefton Council CEO, Dwayne Johnson, as well as staff from the local authority.

The group, whose ages range from 11-18, will also play an active role in the newly introduced youth zone, hosted by the Michael Causer Foundation.

Formerly Liverpool Pride, it has been rebranded following the creation of the LCR Pride Foundation, extending the Pride ethos beyond Liverpool and across the entire city region, with the aim of making it the most LGBTQ+ friendly in the UK.

Dwayne Johnson, CEO at Sefton Council said:

“New Beginnings not only gives the group the chance to mix with their peers in a safe space, it also helps them to form long standing friendships as they overcome the social isolation and loneliness that can all too often be part of being an LGBTQ+ young person.

“They also benefit from the fantastic support of youth workers, who equip them with the advice and tools to stay safe, including mental health, self-esteem, sexual health, hate crime, substance abuse and more besides.

“The Pride March is the highlight of the year for New Beginnings, and our Year of Friendship is the perfect time to shine a light on them ahead of the big day. They are, and will be, a credit to Sefton.”

Cllr. Ian Maher, Cabinet Member for Communities said:

“It’s Diversity month in our Year of Friendship and a great time to champion inclusivity, which we do in Sefton throughout the year.

“It gives me optimism to see our young people representing us so well at Pride, but also real pride, no pun intended, to see our youth workers give them the space, support and platform to grow, forge bonds and develop their confidence.”

To join New Beginnings at the LCR Pride March, register to take part and download the route at the LCR Pride Foundation website https://www.lcrpride.co.uk/march/

Learn more about New Beginnings at the Sefton Youth website http://www.seftonyouth.co.uk/lgbtq

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