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Hertfordshire: Developing Euros stars of the future!

Hertfordshire County Council cements its support for care leavers

As the UEFA Euro 2024 football tournament kicked off in Germany this weekend, we want to wish Hertfordshire-born Gareth Southgate, who comes from Watford, all the best as his England team gears up for their first game of the tournament.

Hertfordshire has a proud tradition of nurturing grass roots youth football, as well as being home and host to many famous footballers, as well as football league clubs Watford FC and Stevenage FC.

There are over 50,000 children – 42,497 boys and 7,651 girls – currently taking part in some form of grassroots football activity, with female participation increasing 56% since 2021, and male participation increasing 14%. There are also over 600 players taking part in dedicated Disability Football settings across the county.

Hertfordshire County Council and the District and Borough Councils have played its part in the growth and development of football by providing regular funding to support local schools, organisations, and sports clubs. Such as providing football for children with a wide range of physical and neuro-diverse challenges and those with learning and physical disabilities.

“We are very keen to support our local grassroots organisations to provide sport and physical activities, as these opportunities are essential to help our residents lead healthy and fulfilling lives. In particular, we have invested a great deal of funding into physical activity programmes specifically designed to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing, as we are well-aware of the link between physical and mental health. We have been working with Watford and Stevenage Football Clubs for many years to develop bespoke physical activity programmes for local residents.”

– Hertfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Sarah Perman

Active Connections is a new programme, funded by Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health department and delivered by Herts Sports Partnership (HSP). The partnership works to upskill health professionals and social prescribers and to promote the health benefits of being physically active and to sign post people to local opportunities.HSP works closely with the Hertfordshire Football Association and the University of Hertfordshire with events such as the ‘Coach Education Week’ and have three Apprentices currently working in the Herts FA team from the Universities ‘Sports and Business Management’ degree course. Children can register to play football from as young as age 6 and in Hertfordshire over 50,000 players have registered with Hertfordshire FA across all formats of affiliated football, making up 3,380 teams from 494 clubs. These are supported by over 5,000 qualified coaches and countless other volunteers who give up their time to make the grassroots game happen.

Hertfordshire FA is responsible for a wide range of initiatives that help to develop the professionalism and culture of football across the county and all age groups.

“Football has a unique power to unite communities, build aspiration, reduce inequality, and bring joy to those involved. As well as improving physical and mental health, participation has also been shown to have wider impacts on society, such as reducing crime and improving educational outcomes. With the vast majority of the grassroots game being run by volunteers, additional financial support is always welcome, and we encourage clubs to reach out to Councillors to access locality budgets where they can be used to grow provision in areas of need and share these benefits more widely. We are proud to work together with local agencies to use the power of football to promote positive change, which includes putting on sessions with Hertfordshire County Council to raise awareness across the game about the risk of radicalisation to young people as part of the Prevent programme.”

– Karl Lingham, CEO, Hertfordshire Football Association

Hertfordshire Sports Partnership
Hertfordshire Football Association
Active Herts

The Care Leaver Covenant has gained a new signatory as Hertfordshire County Council pledged its continued commitment to support care leavers as they continue their journey to live independently.

As part of its commitment, the County Council is calling on local businesses, organisations, districts and borough councils to also sign up. Encouraging local employers and housing providers to reach out to these young adults by offering support and opportunities as they take their next steps into adulthood.

Fiona Thomson, Executive Member for Children, Young people and Families, said: “We know that our care leavers face additional challenges as they transition to adulthood: living independently, often with little family or community support. Many care-experience people say that discrimination has also contributed to negative outcomes in their lives. Our care leavers have told us that it’s important that we sign up to the National Care Leaver Covenant, which we are able to do now that we have found a way to offer council tax reimbursement for them until the age of 21.”

The National Care Leaver Covenant is a promise made by the private, public and voluntary sectors to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them live successful lives. The covenant pertains to all areas which impact on care leavers’ opportunities to thrive, including housing support, training and employment, work experience, or partnerships with local businesses.

Signing the Care Leaver Covenant is one element of the Council’s commitment to improve outcomes for care leavers. Recently, Hertfordshire agreed to treat care experience as a protected characteristic. This means that when policies and services are developed, it will assess the impact of these on people with care experience making sure that they are not negatively impacted by decisions taken.

Fiona continued, “As the corporate parents for children and young people in our care, it’s important that we lead the way and encourage all those we work with to look at how their practice and policies are impacting care leavers and encourage them to do all they can to support people leaving care. By working together, we can build bright futures for our care leavers.”

As well as The Local Offer for Care Leavers, Hertfordshire County Council has recently extended the lifelong links programme; strengthening contact with people important to them to create support networks and providing stability. It has also expanded the Care Leaver Service to provide personal advisors with more capacity and time to dedicate to the young people and the popular Ohana support group for care experience young parents.

Useful contacts and links

The Local Offer of Care Leavers
Lifelong Links Programme
Ohana support group
Samantha.jeffery@hertfordshire.gov.uk
www.mycovenant.org.uk