The second meeting of my Youth Advisory Group has taken place with approval of our terms of reference, membership agreement and Social Media guidelines – we are really up and running!
The group met Sgt Mike Brumskill, Merseyside Police’s Youth Engagement team leader and a lively discussion took place – unequivocal engagement there!
Con Phil Seddon gave a presentation about how to stay safe online but I, at least, felt that the young advisors could teach me an awful lot about social media! Dates are now being set for our meetings next term, with sub-groups to meet and discuss issues like domestic abuse and sexual violence, hate crime and the use of stop and search powers.
Young advisors also had a list of people they want to meet!
I can also report on my regular liaison meeting with the current team of sabbatical officers at the region’s three universities – the Guild of Undergraduates at University of Liverpool and the Students’ Unions at LJMU and Hope University. Chaired by Dan Cole, Vice President of Community Engagement at University of Liverpool, all three student unions are keen to work with me to reduce the vulnerability of the 70,000 students, who now form 10% of the population in Liverpool.
We were joined by Police Constable Steve Alman, who is detailed to work with the LJMU and who clearly understood the problems that students face. Although Welcome Week had gone well all round, students too often suffer the loss of items due to personal theft. Problems around student housing and the odd taxi driver were also discussed.
There are some good ideas being put into practice involving the deployment of ‘Welcome Assistants’ during Welcome Week and ‘Residential Assistants’ in Halls of residence, student volunteers working to help their colleagues.
There is also a scheme to train doorstaff at the City’s bars and clubs to become ‘safe havens’ for young people – not only students - who have celebrated too heavily.
Liverpool City Councillor Rachel O’Byrne has been working with the unions to encourage the development of this scheme.
Finally for this diary, I have had the great pleasure of re-visiting Stephen Yip’s brilliant charity KIND (Kids In Need & Distress) in Back Canning Street. Stephen works with children from all over Merseyside to help them to achieve their full potential and to protect them from the disaster that usually follows becoming a young offender.
Like many organisations in the community, faith and voluntary sector, KIND is struggling to survive with the dramatic reduction in funding available due to government spending cuts.
Nevertheless, a half hour spent in their beautiful garden within a stone’s throw of the majestic Anglican Cathedral and meeting Year 3 pupils from Sudley Primary School, was a welcome break from normal work!