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Minister welcomes Council’s dedicated support for most vulnerable young people


Friday, 10 May 2024
The new Shift programme launched

An innovative new partnership focused on improving the lives of some of Middlesbrough’s most vulnerable young people has been praised by government.

Middlesbrough Council is working with SHiFT, a national charity that works to break the destructive cycle of young people caught up in crime.

Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), visited Middlesbrough to learn more about the project.

DLUHC funding is supporting the SHiFT work in the town and Mr Gove has described the programme as being potentially life changing.

SHiFT Middlesbrough, which launched this month, aims to safely return children who are currently cared for outside of the area to their families or a suitable setting closer to their local community.

SHiFT’s ‘Breaking Cycles’ model will be used to build trusting relationships with children and young people, with SHiFT Guides offering consistent and flexible support for at least 18 months.

Joe Tynan, who became Executive Director of Children’s Services at Middlesbrough Council in October 2023, previously worked with SHiFT at the London Borough of Bexley.

Mr Tynan said: “Our partnership with SHiFT is all about us having a positive influence on the lives of young people who need dedicated and specialist support.

“The benefits of us working closely with these young people can be far reaching for society, the Council and our partners.

“It was a great opportunity to welcome Mr Gove to Middlesbrough and explain to him the challenges we face and how this project can make a difference.”

Cllr Zafar Uddin, Executive member for Children’s Services, said: “All Middlesbrough children matter to us and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure they have the opportunity to lead the most fulfilling lives possible.

“Our partnership with SHiFT will see intensive work with individuals who need specific help.”

SHiFT’s Chief Executive, Dr Amy Ludlow, said: ‘It’s a privilege for us to be working with Middlesbrough’s children and young people and their communities.

“Every child and young person deserves to be kept safe, to be nurtured by people who see the potential in them, and to be supported and challenged to move to a place of strength and responsibility from which they can aspire, achieve and contribute to society.

“We’re laser focused on achieving this for all of the brilliant children and young people we’ll be working with in Middlesbrough, and contributing alongside other excellent local organisations and community groups to realising the system change that’s needed so that policy and practice delivers on this aspiration for everyone.”

A group of 27 children and young people who are perceived to be at most risk of their personal situations worsening will be invited to work with a dedicated SHiFT Guide.

Criteria that will be considered when identifying children and young people to be invited for SHiFT support will include involvement with children’s social care and police and their engagement with education.

The charity, founded in 2019, has worked successfully with councils elsewhere in the country.

A report to the Council’s Executive outlined how a Council investment of £600,000 over three years could result in more than £2.3m in savings. The projected savings are linked to reducing reliance on high-cost placements and alternative education provision.

Another benefit of the children and young people – aged up to 25 – having their own dedicated Guide will see their existing social worker freed up to work with other children and young people.

The intensive nature of SHiFT’s support is being part funded by DLUHC as the Department looks to support the scale of the charity’s work.

Michael Gove at the Shift launch in Middlesbrough