Key successes for project to improve people’s lives
Published: Friday 27th February 15
Key achievements of the council’s ‘Aspirations’ project to improve the lives of people living in the borough’s more deprived wards are outlined in a new report.
Significant progress on the regeneration of the Alton, Winstanley and York Road estates, a far-reaching strategy to create thousands of new homes, ‘turning around’ 564 troubled families and getting more than 200 people into work through the Work Match scheme are just some of the project’s recent successes.
The Aspirations Project was launched by Wandsworth Council two years ago, and was an ambitious set of proposals to regenerate whole neighbourhoods, create more homes, help people get into work and encourage people living in Wandsworth to aspire to better, safer, healthier lives. It was particularly targeted on wards in Battersea and Roehampton.
All council departments are involved in ongoing project, led by chief executive Paul Martin, and it underpins much of its day-to-day work. Officers are expected to consider how their work can contribute to the project, and councillors are given regular updates.
The latest report discussed by councillors this month detailed progress since the last update in July 2014 in the project’s seven major areas.
Building better neighbourhoods: Following extensive consultation with local people, detailed plans have been drawn up for the regeneration of the Alton Estate in Roehampton and the Winstanley/York Road estates in Battersea. The plans will see many people’s homes completely rebuilt and much better community facilities provided. Work will start soon.
Creating more homes: A plan, the Wandsworth Housing Offer, has been drawn up to create 18,000 homes in the next ten years, including new social housing, affordable housing and homes for private rent and sale. Meanwhile the pilot Housing into work scheme, which links giving young people a home with encouraging them to get a job, has found work for 14 of the 19 youngsters that took park.
Creating opportunities for young people: The number of nursery places for two year olds has been expanded – more than 61 per cent have a place, one of the highest figures for vulnerable and disadvantaged children in London. 96 per cent of primary schools are good or outstanding and the council has planned for an increase in demand for school places by building new schools and expanding others. The council also funded a new home for Caius House – which is now one of the largest youth centres in England.
Mentoring young people: Mentoring schemes have been set up in Battersea and Roehampton to keep people out of gangs, and so far 41 young people have been supported into work or training.
Helping people get jobs: The Work Match scheme has helped match 207 local people with available jobs. Its free construction training scheme has been a particular success, with a number of unemployed Wandsworth people subsequently going on to work on one of the borough’s various construction sites – development at Nine Elms alone has created hundreds of construction jobs.
Troubled Families: Wandsworth was one of the pioneers of this approach, in which agencies such as social services and police work in a joined-up way with a whole family. The council is acknowledged to run one of the most successfully Troubled Families programmes in the country. All the issues that could affect a family are looked at and tackled, such as drug use, crime, truancy and unemployment, because these issues are usually linked. Of the 660 families identified at the start of the project, Wandsworth has ‘turned around’ 564 of them. This means that the children now attend school, parents are free from crime and in some cases back in work or training and incidents of antisocial behaviour have reduced. Because of this success, Wandsworth has been chosen by the Government to be an early adopter of the next phase of troubled families.
Better health: The council’s public health team has been carrying out extensive work in first Roehampton and then on the Battersea estates. A package of free health and lifestyle help includes cookery clubs, health trainers, mental health first aid, exercise classes and stop smoking courses, with the incentive of free gym or swim membership for those who take part. Local people have been encouraged to become ‘Change Champions’ and mental health mentors so that skill can be passed around within the community.
Leader of the council, Ravi Govindia, said:
“We set ourselves a huge challenge when we launched the Aspirations Project, and it’s been more successful than we dared hope. Officers have come up with far-reaching strategies which, as well as making Wandsworth even stronger now, will lay the groundwork for improvements into the next decade and beyond.
“We are determined to ensure our residents have the homes and jobs they deserve, can get a good education for their children, and are supported to live healthier lives. Wandsworth is going through a time of great change, and we will ensure the people of Wandsworth can make the most of all the opportunities opening up to them.”
Read the full report online – paper 15-108.