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Community Planning in Practice
West Lothian Community Planning Partnership is working together to deliver better outcomes for those who live, work and do business in West Lothian. To illustrate the impact that our activities are having, a number of examples have been highlighted in the drop-downs below.
Together for Health activity in Armadale works to reduce prevalence of childhood obesity, increase fruit consumption in school and at home and increase physical activity in the school environment. It is a partnership initiative involving partners such as WLC Regeneration and Employability, Health Improvement Team, Armadale Traders, Scotmid, Youth Services.
Approximately 1,000 children across the Armadale Ward are offered and eat fresh fruit once a month on the last Friday, on the day now known in the community as 'Fruity Friday'. A small survey of the children demonstrated that they enjoyed Fruity Friday and as a result were eating more fruit in school and at home. Fruity Friday has now been launched in the community with up to 60-70 participants at an afternoon session in the newly opened Dale Hub in Armadale. This session includes preparation, tasting and education around fruit. It is co-delivered by the community group, the Dale Food Group, supporting sustainability. Other community sessions have taken place in local youth clubs. As part of this initiative over 300 families pledged their commitment to trying to achieve their five a day. A small sample of these when followed up demonstrated that 75% were eating more fruit and some families had changed their behaviour, with adults exercising more, people walking more as a family and as individuals and people eating less sweets, junk food and sugary drinks.
West Lothian Leisure works closely with partners to improve health outcomes for local people. The First Steps to Health & Wellbeing is an exercise referral project in West Lothian between GPs and Xcite Leisure. It is aimed at increasing the physical activity levels of referred patients and encouraging longer term commitment to exercise and activity. The First Steps programme operates in a number of areas, including the Fauldhouse Partnership Centre. Since First Steps began there have been over 8,696 referrals across West Lothian.
Homeless football is a monthly activity delivered in partnership with WLC, NHS and voluntary organisations to improve physical and mental wellbeing of people who are or have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness, offering a unique way of amalgamating health promotion and improving physical fitness to empower people. Health promotion and/or service awareness sessions are held at half time and individuals are encouraged to work with other services. Homeless Football has allowed participants to improve their health and make significant changes to their future lifestyle choices, reduce their social isolation and develop their football skills. It has provided a very good opportunity to Team Build and several people in homeless accommodation have continued to participate in the football sessions after they have moved into their permanent tenancies.
Young drivers remain a priority and prevention activity is delivered through West Lothian's WestDrive initiative for young driver education, which targets 16-18 year old students. This involves inputs from Police, Fire, ambulance service, AA, West Lothian Drug and Alcohol Service and insurance brokers, who work to improve awareness of road safety and challenge offending behaviour in order to keep people safe on our roads.
The Almond Project works with women offenders and aims to reverse the recent increase in the female prisoner population. This project is based in the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team and provides an assertive outreach service based on a key worker/mentoring model, maximising women's access to services and addressing the underlying issues that drive their offending behaviour. We have very positive engagement and compliance with the Almond Project, with women who otherwise may have received little support, and we are meeting target for those with no further offences 6 months after engagement with the project.
In October 2012 the Partnership analysts identified a rise in suspicious, deliberate fire-raising, costing a lot of money, depleting resources and endangering lives. There had been approximately 100 fires and the potential cost to the area was £208,000. Boghall represented 4.2% and Ladywell 11% of all bin fires in West Lothian.
The Community Safety Partnership decided that they would put into place a Wheelie Bin Fire initiative, including a partnership letter delivered to local residents, a Partnership Notification Report for use by attending Fire Crews, fitted tilt/lock bins to 'blue' bins, locks fitted by the Unpaid Work team and pre-deployment engagement was carried out by Housing Officers, Police and Fire Service by door-to-door visits.
Statistics show that, prior to the locks being placed, there was on average 8 deliberate bin fires per month and since the deployment of the locks in 2012/13, only 2 deliberate bin fires over a 6 month period were reported. The result of the bin locks in Ladywell in 2013/14 is being monitored. The reduction in fires mean that less Fire Service, Police and council resources were required and there is a greater feeling of safety within the community.
The Domestic and Sexual Assault team (DASAT) provides a wide range of services to adult and child survivors of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault. The team includes a substance misuse specialist, a counsellor for survivors of child sexual abuse, a mental health specialist, a housing and employability worker, a specialist service for women offenders and specialist children's workers. With the launch of the new West Lothian Domestic Abuse Court in February 2012, DASAT has extended the support provided to include specialist independent advocacy support for survivors throughout court processes and beyond. An appropriately trained advocacy worker attends fortnightly trial diets and daily custody courts, and liaises with court agencies. The percentage of women who feel safer as a result of intervention by DASAT is very positive (100% in 2013/14). The percentage of children re-referred to DASAT has also seen a positive reduction (to 10% in 2013/14). This excellent performance shows increased confidence in services and effective multi agency working.
Fauldhouse generally has lower levels of economic activity than West Lothian, with 66% of the overall population being economically active, only 40% working age adults in full-time employment and 15% in receipt of key out-of-work benefits. The Fauldhouse Partnership Centre has allowed service integration of a range of employability services as part of the mainstream service delivery, delivered by Access2employment, Skills Development Scotland and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
DWP, in partnership with Access2employment, delivers the full range of Jobcentre plus services. The Partnership Centre is the first in Scotland to have Jobcentre plus services co-located with partners' employment and training provision. A Work Club is provided by WLC, volunteers and Jobcentre plus, where clients can access one-to-one support with an advisor and engage with one to many provision. The Fauldhouse Employability Group, including a number of partners, has established data sharing arrangements between DWP and WLC, have carried out a survey of unemployed residents and are due to create an employability information tool for the area.
Young people in the area receive employment support at school from Skills Development Scotland, providing career guidance information and advice and targeted support to those pupils identified as at risk of not moving into a positive destination. As a result, school leaver destinations have improved for local High Schools.
Other initiatives include a Jobs Fair held in the Partnership Centre and the 'Knock Knock' door knocking campaign, targeting areas with high numbers of benefit claimants and multiple deprivation. During 2013/14 the Working Together Group began to see the impact of Welfare Reform on residents and so an initiative was developed to engage and support individuals and families directly affected by the benefit cap. Officers have been able to signpost clients to support such as debt and housing advice and employability support.
Significant progress has been made by partners in providing support and additional opportunities in response to local need. The Working Together Employability Group monitors total claimant counts of the resident 16-64years population and from February 2013 to January 2014, there was a significant reduction of 180 claimants.
The acute local impact of the economic down turn is now being addressed through the Economic Growth Plan, a major partnership response to the closure of the Vion meat processing plant in early 2013. The first priority was to ensure that the 1,700 workers facing redundancy were given appropriate support and assistance in obtaining alternative employment. However, to promote longer term economic growth, additional resources have been secured to help support and safeguard 3,000 jobs. The West Lothian Economic Growth Plan is a £29M package of targeted support aimed at supporting local communities, growing local companies, creating jobs and attracting new employers. Under the Economic Growth Plan, over 30 firms have completed project work with 1.27m invested, of which the growth plan has contributed £250k. A further 70 firms are developing projects with a value of £12m, with approximately £3.2m from the growth plan.
As part of the Love West Lothian campaign, the council is launching a new sustainability initiative in September 2014 called 'Green Impact'. The initiative will directly engage council staff, community planning partners, pupils and staff within schools, supporting them to make positive environmental changes and rewarding them for their efforts. A graduate Sustainable Behaviour Assistant has been appointed for one year initially with responsibility for co-ordinating the scheme and providing direct support to participants. The focus in the first year will be on secondary schools and the Civic Centre in Livingston. A number of workshops have already taken place involving representatives from the council and partner organisations to develop an online workbook of activities. At the end of the first year there will be a celebratory awards ceremony for all participants.