Category Archives: Community & Children’s Services

Aldgate Pavilion Community Cafe & Aldgate Square Festival

In my role as Chairman of Community & Children’s Services I completed the topping out ceremony (pictured) for the Pavilion in October last year.

A community cafe social enterprise called Kahaila has been selected as operator of the Pavilion and they have just soft opening. I believe they will be a unique and welcome addition to the area.

The wider public Square is the responsibility of Planning & Transportation Committee and should be completed within the next few months.

As part of the launch of the Square a Festival is being organised which will be a fun-filled community celebration of all that the East End has to offer. It will take place between 15th – 17th June 2018. If you are a budding Musician, Performer, Dancer, Artist, Workshop facilitator, Practitioner, Actor, Choir, Cook etc. please volunteer to take part.

Help shape the new City of London Corporation housing allocations scheme

The City of London Corporation is holding a public consultation on a proposed new Housing Allocations Scheme.

The policy will determine how all social housing on the City Corporation’s 12 estates across London is let and to whom.

The updated scheme will reflect changes in the law and the rental market, to be clearer about how social housing is let, and to prioritise applicants who are most in need.

The proposed changes include:

  • expanding the range of applicants entitled to priority as lower income households
  • reviewing the level of savings and assets that would disqualify an applicant from accessing social housing
  • increasing the priority given to overcrowded families when siblings of different genders must share a bedroom
  • helping some single tenants who live in a studio to move to a one bedroom flat
  • reducing the priority of applicants who have contributed to their own housing problems.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the Community and Children’s Services Committee said:

“We are asking residents across all our estates and City workers to share their views on the proposed scheme.

“The aim of our housing allocations policy is to achieve a balance between the housing needs of existing City of London tenants and those applying to be new tenants.

“We want to make the best use of our housing stock in this time of extremely high demand for social housing across London.”

The consultation is open until 18 August and surveys are available in City Corporation libraries at Barbican, Artizan Street and Shoe Lane or at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/cityhousingallocations

The City of London Corporation provides housing for Londoners across seven of the capital’s boroughs and is building another 3,700 homes across London by 2025.

£427,000 injection to tackle homelessness across Square Mile

The City of London Corporation has committed to a £427,000 increase in funding to help tackle homelessness across the City.

The extra money follows a decision by the City Corporation’s Community & Children’s Services Committee to support new services including specialist accommodation and support services.

The funding aims to reduce long term rough sleeping and ensure that more of those who arrive new to the streets, spend no more than one night out.

A range of new services will help the City Corporation’s outreach team, led by St Mungo’s, to deal with rough sleepers who require specialist professional intervention.

The plans include the commissioning of new specialist beds for rough sleepers struggling with drug-use and mental health issues, a specialist mental health worker, outreach welfare specialist, and expanded access to detox and rehab treatment programmes.

Proposals to embed a specialist community safety officer alongside St Mungo’s outreach teams will improve identification and mapping of begging activity, meaning better targeting of outreach services to help vulnerable rough sleepers and support enforcement where outreach and engagement have been refused.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community & Children’s Committee, said:

“Homelessness is an issue that remains a real challenge across London.

“We must reduce the risk of long-term homelessness and put an end to rough sleeping in the Square Mile.

“The City Corporation is committed to supporting people who find themselves homelessness or sleeping rough, and working closely with our partners and the Mayor of London, to identify new solutions.

“The approval of the funding will ensure that the relevant services are fully resourced to do this.”

The City of London Corporation runs a range of schemes aimed at tackling homelessness in the Square Mile, including:

  • The City of London Outreach Team service, which is delivered by St Mungo’s, aims to help rough sleepers off the streets and into the support that best matches their needs, ensuring they break harmful street lifestyle choices
  • The Lodge and City Lodge –innovative accommodation schemes run in partnership with St Mungo’s, designed to meet the needs of some of London’s most entrenched rough sleepers.

Shoe Lane Library reopens after major refurbishment

One of the City’s biggest community spaces has reopened after an extensive refurbishment.

A revamp to Shoe Lane Library, owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, has improved reading areas, created a new well-being space, laid new carpets, installed tablets for e-magazines and a new coffee machine.

The project has also increased space for study and relaxation.

The changes include:

  • New well-being area with books on health as well as new comfortable chairs for relaxation
  • Two tablets for reading e-magazines from the City of London libraries’ collection
  • A new coffee machine
  • New carpets
  • New modern furniture
  • New services from City Advice, Smoking Cessation and Victim Support

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community and Children’s Services committee, said:

“The refurbishment of Shoe Lane library forms part of the City of London’s Corporation’s commitment to providing quality community services for its residents and visitors.

“We now have a library fit for the 21st century with which we hope offers a safe neutral, shared space, in which people feel they belong and to which people feel they can visit alone or with friends.”

The library has a range of services available for visitors including:

  • Books, audio books and language sets
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Free Wi-Fi, computers and internet access
  • Reading groups
  • Rhymetime and Stay and Play for under 5s
  • Home delivery service
  • Friendly, expert staff

Aldgate Community Events / City Play East – briefing event on Tue 17 Jan

The City, under the oversight of the Community & Children’s Services committee (which I chair), is working with community representatives and organisations, and a nationally renowned theatre company, on a thrilling programme of events and opportunities for local residents and workers in 2017 and 2018.

The programme developed by Aldgate Community Events (ACE), will include:

  • Aldgate Heritage trail
  • Aldgate Treasures displays in suitcases,
  • Aldgate Voices recordings
  • Winter in Aldgate 2017 events
  • The Aldgate Tales play
  • Workshops covering mask-making, performance skills, local history research etc.

Please join ACE from 3:30-5pm on Tuesday 17 January 2017 at Bevis Marks Synagogue, 4 Heneage Lane EC3A for tea and cakes and find out more and how you can get involved.

Further dates and details of all events can be found here.

City & Hackney Local Safeguarding Children Board becomes the first in country to receive ‘outstanding’ Ofsted judgement

The City & Hackney Local Safeguarding Children Board has become the first in the country to receive an ‘outstanding’ judgement, following an Ofsted inspection of the City of London Corporation’s children’s services.

In the report, inspectors looked at all areas of the Corporation’s service, including its support to children that need help and protection, children in care and care leavers.

The Corporation’s senior leadership team also became only the sixth local authority in England to receive an ‘outstanding’ award. Overall, Ofsted rated its children’s services as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ aspects.

Ofsted said the Corporation’s “inspiring leaders” had shown “outstanding leadership, management and governance” in providing “exceptional outcomes” for children in its care.

The report says that the Corporation’s looked after children are provided with good education and healthcare, many leisure opportunities, high-quality independent fostering placements and a very effective social work support. Support can continue up to and sometimes beyond, the age of 25, whether or not they are in full-time education.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community & Children’s Services Committee, said:

“This result is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and practitioners. We are committed to helping the children in our care to do well in their lives and achieve their full potential.

“We care deeply about the young people we support and our social workers and children enjoy enduring relationships beyond childhood, which are built on meaningful time spent together.”

Jim Gamble QPM, Independent Chair of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Board, said:

“I am extremely proud of the team in the City and Hackney. Achieving the first outstanding judgement is the result of their hard work and relentless focus on what is best for our children and young people.

“We have built a system that works and it works because of leadership, commitment and a willingness to engage in constructive reflective practice. There is no burden of bureaucracy here. We collectively focus on what matters most, the data that informs debate and the learning that drives improvement.

“Our structure, our approach, our staff and every partner on the Board make a real difference. Ultimately, the investment in a senior professional advisor, right at the heart of the safeguarding team has pushed us and made us smarter.”

Read the full report here.

Three London boroughs help those on the brink of homelessness

The City of London Corporation and the London Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets have launched No First Night Out – a new project to prevent people from turning to rough sleeping.

The initiative is funded by the Greater London Authority and Department of Communities and Local Government.

New research prepared by St Mungo’s for the councils included interviews with 34 new rough sleepers.

It found the three main tipping points into rough sleeping were an end to temporary accommodation with friends or family, being asked to leave the family home, and the threat of eviction from a rented property.

The local authorities will use the findings to predict who might sleep out before they actually do.

New specialist No First Night Out housing officers will work with local authority housing and social care teams – as well as religious organisations, medical, legal and employment services – to identify those at risk of a first night on the streets.

Individuals identified as at risk of rough sleeping will receive rapid, intensive homelessness prevention and housing support.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community & Children’s Services Committee, said:

“Tackling homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing local authorities across London and the UK.

“New rough sleepers often have long and complex journeys into homelessness, often involving mental health problems, alcohol dependency or drug abuse.

“This new project demonstrates our commitment to doing everything we can to help those on the brink through joint working and early intervention.”

Cllr Philip Glanville, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“Tackling homelessness is a priority for the Council and understanding the root causes of it is a vital step in the prevention process.

“This new cross-borough task force will see the pooling of resources and skills to ensure rapid, practical help is given before those at risk of homelessness end up on the streets.”

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:

“The personal stories of homeless people often show how easy it is to suddenly be faced with the stark realities of homelessness, without a safe or secure roof over one’s head.

“Homelessness can also be an unfortunate side-effect of other issues including family breakdown, health conditions or problems with addiction.

“This intensive and intelligence-led approach will help ensure that more people get the support needed before their problems see them being left out on the streets.”

“It’s also important we continue to tackle those rogue landlords who fail to act responsibly by using practices such as revenge evictions to force tenants out of their homes.”

The No First Night Out service will also be advertised in Job Centre Plus, Probation, Citizen’s Advice and local libraries, churches and mosques. It complements the existing No Second Night Out initiative, which focuses on helping London’s existing new rough sleepers.

As part of the funding, current rough sleepers who have a local connection to another area of England or Wales will also be provided with additional support through the new Safe Connections service to access accommodation and support.