Cornwall’s HeadStart Kernow programme is set to receive £8.9 million to help with mental health and wellbeing for 10-16 year olds

Following on from the huge success of a Good Ofsted judgement, today, I can officially announce further fantastic news for Cornwall’s young people. This news is Cornwall has been awarded nearly £9 million (£8.9m) to continue its work in supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people over the next five years.thROYPQJ23

Cornwall is one of just six areas across the country to receive a Big Lottery Fund grant this year which will be used to support the delivery of the HeadStart Kernow Strategy from 2016 to 2021.

The aim of the national HeadStart programme is to equip young people to be able to cope better with difficult circumstances in their lives so as to prevent them experiencing common mental health problems before they become serious issues. Previous to today’s announcement, Cornwall Council was awarded £500k which was used to set-up the programme which importantly, have been developed in partnership with young people.

HeadStart Kernow is not just the Council, as this is a partnership which includes Devon and Cornwall Police, NHS Kernow, Cornwall Foundation Trust, Cornwall Association of Secondary Head Teachers CASH), Cornwall Association of Primary Head Teachers (CAPH) and the voluntary and community sector.

HeadStart Kernow focuses on four key areas:

  • A child’s time and experiences at school
  • Their ability to access the services they need
  • Their home life and relationships with family members
  • their interaction with family members

Over the past two years the programme has worked with 61 primary schools, 10 secondary schools and one special school across Cornwall, helping to support around 10,00 young people aged between 10 and 16 years.

20 July 2016, roll out beginning in September 2016. Activity will be phased, based upon need, assets and capacity and will be iterative in its nature – we will learn and adapt.

HeadStart Kernow young people's board and those involved with the programme

HeadStart Kernow young people’s board and those involved with the programme

With the £8.9m pot of funding, HeadStart will engage All Primary (235) and Secondary Schools (32), seven Alternative Provision Academies in Cornwall, and all of the five Special Schools by working in partnership to maximise the impact of the HeadStart funding along with voluntary sector providers and the wider community.

This is a fantastic achievement which will help us to continue to deliver pro-active and preventive emotional health support for young people across Cornwall.

This funding will be used to support a range of activities in schools and in local communities, help develop the workforce and improve support systems to ensure that all children and young people in Cornwall can access the right support when they need it.

I would like to thank the HeadStart team, let by Richard Head, and all those involved for their hard-work over the last two years and for convincing The Big Lottery HeadStart programme our project here in Cornwall will help young people deal with emotional and mental health issues. As the portfolio holder, I am very proud of all their work. This money will make a difference.


Cornwall Council supports The Royal British Legion’s campaign ‘Count them in’

At today’s full council, I submitted a motion that would lend Cornwall Council support to The Royal British Legion ‘Count them in’ campaign which calls the Government to include a new topic in the 2021 census. The motion is as:

This Council notes

  1. The obligations it owes to the Armed Forces community within Cornwall as enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant; that the Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage in the provision of services and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given the most;
  2. The absence of the definitive and comprehensive statistics on the size or demographics of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council. This includes serving Regular and Reserve personnel, veterans and their families;
  3. That the availability of such data would greatly assist the Council, local partner agencies, the voluntary sector and national Government in the planning a provision of services to address the unique needs of the Armed Forces community within Cornwall Council.

In light of the above, this Council moves to support and promote The Royal British Legion’s call to include a new topic in the 2021 census that concerns military service and membership of the Armed Forces community. The motion further calls on the Government to approve the final census questionnaire through legislation in 2019.

Why is there need to have a question on the census? It is quite simple, the lack of clear data about the size and location of the Armed Forces community , including regular and reserve personnel, veterans and their families, makes it difficult for service providers to fully meet their needs.

The British Legion estimates that the Armed Forces community makes up around one in ten of the general population, with around 2.8m veterans living in the UK, along with 2.1m dependent adults, 1m dependent children and up to 290,000 “hidden” members of the ex serving community who are living in care homes etc.

Despite this large population however, the 2011 UK census only contained two questions related to the Armed Forces – one asking whether a member of the armed Forces usually lived at that address and the second whether the respondent usually lived at an Armed Forces base for over 30 days a year. This failed to collect detailed information on veterans or their dependents, and only provided limited information about reservists and dependents of those serving.

The Armed Forces Covenant, introduced by the Government, sets out how members of the Armed Forces and their families should be treated and yet we do not have the information to help achieve this. At Cornwall Council, we have updated our own version to reflect we need to do more.

I am pleased to say the vote was unanimous with no Councillor voting against this motion.

Are young people at risk of radicalisation in Cornwall via social media?

Terrorist organisations, such as ISIL, are trying to radicalise and recruit young and vulnerable people through the extensive use of social media and the internet. Young people, some as young as 14, have tried to leave the UK to travel to join ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Therefore, I want to highlight this issue both as a parent and a Councillor and to raise the awareness of online harm and how every parent needs to be aware of the risks posed by the online activity of extremist and terrorist groups.

I have in my Councillor role undertaken a couple of bouts of Prevent training. This is about raising awareness of those at risk at radicalisation. We have all seen the news, but radicalisation is not just about groups like ISIL, people are being radicalised on both the extreme left and right wing agenda

The current threat level from international terrorism for the UK is assessed as severe. This means an attack is highly likely. Furthermore, it is unlikely to go below severe. The security levels are:

  • Low – and attack is unlikely;
  • Moderate – and attack is possible, but not likely;
  • Substantial – an attack is a strong possibility;
  • Severe – and attack is highly likely;
  • Critical – an attack is imminent.

Evidence shows that most terrorist offences committed by people are under the age of 30. People might think the potential for radicalisation in Cornwall does not happen. It does. Whilst the actual numbers of those who have been referred to the pathway cannot be disclosed, 95% of referrals in Cornwall over the last six-years are with those aged 14-25. In the last 12 months all the referrals in Cornwall were for those aged under-18.

Over 60% of the referrals received were related to International Terrorism (ISIS), 15% were for extreme right wing and 20% had no single ideology

Young males are most at risk, and here in Cornwall this is associated with their online gaming and access to chat rooms. Let me be clear, I am not demonising gaming, or gamers, as there are other vulnerabilities associated with each of these cases, but the internet has the largest impact, principally as a source of information and as a communication tool.

Social media is a huge recruiting platform. 50,000 twitter accounts follow ISIL, with each account has around 1000 followers. Other social media platforms are used include:

  • YouTube is also used to host videos, both of official ISIL output and videos created by users themselves. Multiple ‘dummy’ accounts will be set up so that when videos are taken down they can be reposted quickly. Users will post YouTube links across their own social media platforms in order to disseminate material, particularly Twitter and Facebook;
  • ASK.FM People considering travel to Syria or Iraq sometimes use to ask British jihadis and female ISIL supporters about travel, living standards, recruitment, fighting and broader ideology. The answers given by ISIL supporters are encouraging, saying all their difficulties will be solved if they travel to the region;
  • Instagram is used by fighters and ISIL supporters to share the photosets frequently produced by various ISIL media organisations. ISIL supporters also use Instagram to share pictures of their life in Syria, often showing landscapes and images suggesting they are living a full and happy life;
  • Tumblr, the blogging site, is exploited by fighters to promote longer, theological arguments for travel. Tumblr is popular with female ISIL supporters, who have written blogs addressing the concerns girls have about travelling to the region, such as leaving their families behind and living standards in Syria;
  • On social media, ISIL supporters frequently encourage others to message them on closed peer-to-peer networks when asked for sensitive information, such as on how to travel to the region, what to pack and who to contact when they arrive. Popular private messaging apps include WhatsApp, Kik, SureSpot and Viber.
The most used media channels

The most used media channels

For help in understanding the social media world, The European Safer Internet Programme provides information about which are the best tools and which are free for most systems (MAC, Windows, IOS, Linux, windows, Android, Blackberry etc). Additional helpful websites include

The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness of some of the threats to our young people, not demonise anyone who may like gaming or uses social media. I hope the information contained is of value. We should all be aware.

If you have concerns about someone being radicalised, you might want to report it via:

Making a referral under Channel will not lead to the individual receiving a criminal record.





Construction starts for a new Post-16 College in Bodmin

Last week, I attended the official start of construction at the 10-acre site to bring a state-of-the-art, post-16 College to East Cornwall which was celebrated at a special cutting-of-the-turf ceremony. Callywith College is being constructed in the heart of Bodmin and will bring quality Further Education provision to young people across North and East Cornwall.

This is a hugely important project for education and skills for our young people. It is not often you can see a purpose built College being built allow those attending a huge opportunity to reach their full potential.

This is all about partnership working as Cornwall Council works closely with Truro and Penwith College as part of our Raising Aspiration and Achievement Strategy (RAAS). We can only improve the educational journey for our young people by working together from pre-school up to FE and HE. Working together we will give a better education experience to all our young people in Cornwall.

Latest draft plans for housing at Nansloe

I thought I would share with residents the latest draft plans for the new affordable site in Nansloe. These are draft plans, and therefore, can change. At time of writing this blog post no planning application has been submitted.


The site layout

The draft entrance into the new proposed site

70 different languages spoken in Cornwall’s Schools.

On Monday, I have the pleasure of opening the English as an additional language conference. For those who do not know, there are 70 different languages spoken in our schools.

The most spoken language in Cornwall are Polish, Lithuanian and Portuguese. Top nine (after English) are Polish, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Chinese, German, Hungarian, Spanish, Russian and Latvian.

All our secondary schools have EAL students with 572 EAL pupils in secondary schools (2%) and there are 1070 EAL pupils in primary schools which accounts for 2.6% of the school population. Furthermore, last year our schools organised exam qualifications in 13 different languages.

All these young people are included in the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) figures which are:

  • 95% of all primary schools have at least one BME student
  • Only 12 Primary schools 5% do not have a BME pupil
  • 6.5% of primary school pupils are BME
  • All secondary schools have BME pupils
  • 5.5% Secondary pupils are BME

Supporting EAL young people in our schools comes under The Equality and Diversity Service who work strategically across the Children’s services and in partnership with schools and other agencies to promote Equality and Diversity in Cornwall. Their role is helping to source funding for interpreters, which can include six-week placements by support workers in schools carrying out special projects tailored to support schools and pupils. They do this in partnership by working with Early Years’ Service, multi agencies, settings and staff, internal and external organisations.

It is great to see this work being carried out and was really pleased to be able to speak at this conference.








Porthleven and Helston voter turnout for the EU Referendum

No matter which side you voted for on the EU Referendum, there was one winner – democracy. Over 33 million (72.2%) eligible voters took part in this Referendum. Some may not like the result, but a quote attributed to Churchill sums the democratic process up well – Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others.

So what was the turnout like in Porthleven and Helston?

Porthleven – 76.1% with 1577 people voting at the Public Hall

Two Polling Stations cover Helston West with 71% with 956 people voting at Culdrose Community Centre and  68% with 467 people voting at the Old Cattle Market

Two Polling Stations cover Helston North – 72% with 609 people voting at the Light and Life Chapel and 75% with 1514 people voting.

Two Polling Stations cover Helston South – 60% with 583 people voting at the Wesley Chapel and 66% with 675 people voting at the Wesley Chapel.

I am unable to give you the details of how people voted at this level, but I can for the whole of Cornwall – see below.

Good Paper Totals
  Remain Leave Spoilt Total
South East Cornwall 22,972 32,067 56 55,095
North Cornwall 21,669 31,848 32 53,549
St Austell 22,620 37,508 28 60,156
Camborne & Redruth 23,704 30,827 48 54,579
Truro & Falmouth 28,470 25,393 35 53,898
St Ives 21,105 25,022 38 46,165
 Total 140,540 182,665 237 323,442

With the local turnout and the result for the whole of Cornwall, these do not count the number of postal votes as although the polling station ballot boxes were verified by constituency, the postal votes, which came from all areas of Cornwall, were distributed evenly across all six parliamentary constituencies.  So this means that the Council cannot say exactly how individual constituencies voted.


Looking to securing the future of Helston’s Coronation Park

Cornwall Council is offering a lease to run and manage Coronation Park in Helston, with a peppercorn rent.  The tender opportunity for the site, includes the park, lake, events square and café – with an existing tenant, river Cober and the former cattle market car park. The tender does not include Penrose car park (Fairground car park).

The new agreement for the events square will include the public toilets and the landlord role for the boat and cycle hire franchise.

This exciting lease opportunity, which will begin by winter 2016 / spring 2017, is only being formally advertised via the Government’s Contracts Finder website. The deadline for submissions is Friday 12 August.

The direct link to the tender opportunity on Contracts Finder, where all relevant documentation is available to view and download, is:

Lake with cafe in background

I support Cornwall Council’s aim of looking for an organisation to be able to invest in Helston’s flagship park. The popular facilities are well used and with the café open daily serving a wide variety of refreshments – we hope to attract some high quality proposals, hopefully from community led organisations to take on the running of this area. We are offering a 99 year lease, but the Council would consider a different length.

For me, I want to explore opportunities for enhancing and maintaining the very special historic Coronation Lake that is at the heart of the park; the Lake has boating, seating, a water wheel and footpath around it to be able to watch and admire the resident wildfowl. At the town centre end of the park the skate park, café, public toilets, events space, avenues and car parking, offer very special views and entertainment for the parks’ many visitors. I cannot convey enough how important the park and facilities are to Helston, and the wider community.

Therefore, this is about securing the long-term future of this area, including much-needed investment to bring it back to its former glory; and giving the community more control over how this area is operated for the benefit of residents.

In the past this area has had considerable investment, but needs more now, which in the current financial climate the council cannot commit to. Furthermore, with a non-council organisation running the area, there are more grant opportunities available. As many grant funding pots, the local authority cannot apply.


Cornwall Council Children’s Social Care Services rated Good by Ofsted

Today I can officially confirm that Cornwall Council’s children’s social care services have been rated as ‘Good’ in the most recent Ofsted inspection. This puts this service in the top 25% of children’s services in the country that have been inspected under this tougher new inspection framework.  Only 12 local authorities have improved to ‘Good’ under this inspection regime and Cornwall is the only authority rated as ‘Inadequate’ between 2010 to 2011 that has now improved to ‘Good’.

The final report from the team of 12 inspectors published today (27 June) gives the Council an overall rating of “Good“, with four of the key areas of the inspection also being rated as ‘Good’ – Children in Care and Permanence; Adoption; Care Leavers; and Leadership, Management and Governance.

Gathered for the announcement this morning

Gathered for the announcement this morning

The report highlights numerous strengths of the service, including the skills and enthusiasm of social work staff; the “consistently good service” given to children in care and care leavers and the support provided to foster carers; the work of the adoption service; strong partnership working, and the quality of practice in early help services.

The report gives special mention is given to some of Cornwall’s most innovative services, including the Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) and Early Help Hub developed jointly with health partners, as well as multi-agency teams like Teylu (Cornish for Family) which is the specialist pre-birth and parent & child assessment team, and Gweres Tus Yownyk (Cornish for Helping Young People) which is the specialist adolescent service supporting young people on the edge of care.

The report notes the significant increase in the number of children receiving Early Help in Cornwall from 200 in 2011-2012 to 2,700 in 2015 – 2016, with early help now seen as everyone’s business. Early help provided by the Council was described by the parents and carers who met with inspectors as “amazing” and “brilliant”.  Parents praised the help they were receiving which, they said, had brought about real improvements in the lives of their children.

The report concludes that services for children and young people in Cornwall are now in a much stronger position and more effective than they were in 2013.

I am extremely proud of the commitment, expertise and achievements of everyone who works so hard to keep children and young people in Cornwall safe and well.

We have come a long way but we know we have more to do.  That will always be the case, especially as we address emerging risks to children such as online child sexual exploitation.  We are already working with our partners to build on the progress we have made over the past five years and we will ensure that we will also get to ‘Good’ in this area at the next inspection.

This achievement is down to the dedication, hard work and skill of staff working on the front line, many of whom go way beyond what is expected of them to help and protect the most vulnerable children of Cornwall.  It is also down to strong partnership working and it is good that the inspectors recognised this.

Our ambition is still the same, to become one of the best children’s services in the country.  The children of Cornwall deserve nothing less.

This results shows that local authorities working together effectively with their partners can turn around Children’s Services. Unlike some in the Government who believe outsourcing Children’s Services is the best way forward.




The EU Referendum – elation and anger

I was not going to stay up and watch the EU Referendum results, but I did. Fascinating stuff and that was before the result was declared. The ‘Exiters’ won the vote by 51.9%. The only really thing the pollsters got right was it was a close result.

Nearly three-quarters (72.2%) of the Country voted on what they thought was right box to tick. It just shows people can be motivated to vote.

In Cornwall 323,442 voted from 419,755 eligible voters. A 77.07% turnout. Cornwall voted to leave.

  • Remain 140,540 (43.45%)
  • Leave 182,665 (56.48%)
  • Rejected papers 237

I had hoped both campaigns would be run on honest facts and reasons. However, both referendum campaigns were full of half-truths, manipulating figures and lies. No side has come out of the campaign looking particularly good.

Yet two days after the results, I am surprised at the comments being made on social media with even a petition calling for the referendum to be held again.  We live in a democracy. More people voted out than in this referendum. That is what happens in elections, surprise surprise the winner is the one with the most votes. Be disappointed, with the result but let’s keep it in perspective.

A decision has been made; we need to get on with it together. It is that simple. It really is un-British to have this venomous back-biting and hatred.

As for the petition, would the same people be calling for a re-run if remain had won? No they would not. In fact they would be crying foul and saying that it is undemocratic. A democracy is not asking you to vote and re-vote until the vote goes your way.

Though you might not know, this referendum was not what you call a ‘binding’ vote (unlike the AV referendum). The Government could/can ignored it. But that’s highly unlikely, more so with the PM stepping down post the result.

Maybe the disappointment should be levelled at the political elite in the EU. Both sides of the referendum campaign have said the EU needs reform. The EU would not reform. It took the attitude of we do not have to. I bet those elites wished they had now. Or had been more receptive when the PM asked for reform. Instead the EU shut the door on his face. If the EU had showed it was willing to reform, I doubt this referendum would have taken place.

This Country, Great Britain is in unknown territory. But have faith, we will find our feet. It might be a bumpy journey, but we will get there and survive. It is not the end of the world as some are predicting.

I will leave you with this. Maybe we should heed Oddball’s advice

1 2 3 135