Surrey County Council’s head of youth services spoke alongside government minister Greg Clark at an international event looking at innovation in public services.
Assistant Director for Young People Garath Symonds shared the platform with the Minister for Decentralisation and Cities at a seminar in Helsinki*. They were joined by Ulla-Maija Laiho, Finland’s Development Director at the Ministry of Employment and Economy.
Mr Symonds spoke about the approach taken by Surrey to transform young people’s services by developing them jointly with young people and working closely with voluntary and community groups**.
He said: “The council’s approach is about everyone working together as one team – whether we are a council, a voluntary group or a business – in the best interests of Surrey.
“The work we’re doing to transform young people’s services is part of that and will see far more activities delivered for young people that better suit their needs at the same time as providing better value for money for taxpayers by saving £1.8m this year.”
Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “I’m proud that the expertise of one of the county council’s staff is being drawn to inform international policy.”
Mr Symonds followed up with a speech at an event held by SOSTE – a Finnish federation of voluntary organisations providing welfare services.
* The event was organised by Social Business International and the British Embassy in Helsinki because the UK and Finland share the challenges of reduced public funding and growing demand on services.
** Surrey Youth Consortium, which is made up of 12 local charities, and Raven Housing Trust will provide activities at 31 Surrey County Council youth centres between them. Each of Surrey’s 11 local committees will be given up to £200,000 a year for grassroots activities or projects agreed with young people from the area and the council plans to join forces with further education colleges to run vocational courses at youth centres for 16 to 19-year-olds.