Somerset Youth Provision – survey of current needs and challenges

Spark Somerset are asking youth groups across Somerset to complete an online survey to help establish an up to date picture of how groups are faring following the recent cuts to County services.

You can access the survey at

The survey is being carried out on behalf of the following organisations who, in the light of the cuts, have started exploring the merits of working together to deliver the best possible work with young people in the county: Engage, Minehead Eye, Spark Somerset, YMCA Taunton, YMCA Mendip and South Somerset, YMCA Dulverton Group,and Young Somerset.

A stakeholder meeting is being planned for March to extend this discussion to other interested groups, and more information out about this will be available soon.

The survey will only take about 5 minutes to complete, please complete it by Friday 15th February.

Safer Sleep Week 2019

Safer Sleep Week, which runs from 11th to 17th March 2019, is an initiative by the Lullaby Trust. The aim of Safer Sleep Week is to ensure parents and carers know the importance of safer sleep, and how to reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The Lullaby Trust knows that greater awareness of safer sleep leads to a decrease in the numbers of babies dying. Sadly, around 4 babies a week still die from SIDS and if all parents were aware of safer sleep advice many lives could be saved.

Somerset organisations are encouraged to help raise awareness by using the #safersleepweek hashtag, and signposting families to the free resources and information available on the Lullaby Trust’s website.

Find out more here.



An Update From the Somerset Safeguarding Children Board

The latest newsletter from the Somerset Safeguarding Children Board is now available, the latest edition includes:

  • Learning from a recent multi-agency review of strategy discussions
  • Details of a safeguarding conversation about a child in need case
  • Resources to explain and promote contextual safeguarding
  • Details about the Somerset Safer Home Project.

You can read the newsletter here.

An Update From the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board

The latest newsletter from the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board features an update on its strategic plan, a toolkit to help you develop a domestic abuse policy for your workplace or organisation, and details of a new online resource for those working with survivors of sexual violence.

You can read the newsletter here.

Funding for Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism

It is estimated that there are over 2,000 adults living in Somerset with moderate to severe learning disabilities, and this number is growing. Around half also have autism [Source: Somerset Intelligence, 2014]. However, with the right support, adults with learning disabilities can live a full life in their community. This often involves making spaces and services more accessible, but it also involves putting adults with learning disabilities first, so they can make their own choices, challenge decisions, and get what they need and have a right to.

The Discovery Community Fund aims to help achieve this and more by supporting improvements to the health and independence of adults with learning disabilities and autism right across the county of Somerset.

Applications to the Discovery Community Fund should be made to Somerset Community Foundation, which is managing the distribution of up to £200,000 of funding.

The fund is the result of a ground-breaking partnership between Somerset County Council and local learning disability support provider Discovery. Their Managing Director, Luke Joy-Smith, goes on to say: “Perhaps with funding you could train healthcare professionals in how to make reasonable adjustments. Perhaps a lump sum could provide Changing Places bathroom facilities in your shop, café or community venue. Perhaps funding could help you launch a community taxi social enterprise. Perhaps hoists or sensory spaces would make your disability friendly holiday accommodation truly inclusive. Perhaps with funding, you could develop a network of Safer Places in towns across Somerset.

“If you have a vision that will improve the health and independence of people with learning disabilities and autism in Somerset, Discovery, Somerset County Council and Somerset Community Foundation want to hear from you.”

Director of Adult Social Services at Somerset County Council, Stephen Chandler, added: “This fund is part of the original vision for re-imagining learning disability provision in Somerset. Launching it with Discovery today is the result of a great deal of hard work and it’s very pleasing to reach this milestone.”

The first window for applications lasts from Wednesday 9 January to Friday 22 February. To find out more, visit: or call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949.

Raising Aspirations Community Mentoring Programme

Could you help a young person to realise their full potential?

Raising Aspirations is a fantastic community mentoring programme by Somerset Community Foundation, the Somerset Education Business Partnership and Spark Somerset, which matches volunteer mentors with students living in Taunton and Street.

Through the programme, mentors have the opportunity make a huge difference to the lives of the students by encouraging them to develop their self-belief and aspirations.

Independent evaluation has shown that students taking part in raising aspirations have experienced better outcomes, including improved GCSE results

“Mentoring has given me so much confidence, encouraged me to put myself forward for things and try things I’ve never done before.” 

Former Mentee, Crispin School.

This is a really rewarding role, where you’ll have the opportunity to work with some great young people. Mentors receive full training before the start of the programme and ongoing support during the mentoring period. This includes the GROW coaching model, which could benefit you in your professional life and any other voluntary work you do.

“To be a mentor you have to be very good at listening, mindful, observant and calm. All of which are key attributes which tie in very nicely with my job. The training was very useful and I have learnt the importance of giving back my career path experiences to my mentee.”

Former Mentor, Crispin School.

If you would like to get involved or would like further information, please contact Sharon Hale on or call 01935 475914.

West Somerset Essential Life Skills Funding

The Essential Life Skills programme is funded by the Department for Education as part of its support for the West Somerset Opportunity Area.

The programme aims to enable young people to improve their confidence, knowledge and skills through participation in extra-curricular activity programmes.

Grants are available to groups and individual young people in the West Somerset District Council area to develop and expand youth provision and enable young people to access positive activities. Group organisations like youth providers, schools and voluntary organisations, can apply for grant funding of up to £5,000 to either develop new activities, or expand their existing provision.

Further information can be found here.



The Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board launches it’s Improving Lives Strategy

The Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board  launched it’s Improving Lives Strategy this week, with a workshop for key partners in held in Taunton.

The strategy presents a vision for health and wellbeing priorities across our county, and describes members of the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board and it’s wider partners will work together over the next ten years to improve the lives of Somerset residents.

The strategy has a wide remit and recognises the many different factors that contribute to improving lives including housing, education, transport and communities. The strategy is the product of a year of joint working, followed by public consultation in the summer which highlighted public support for the approach and priorities.

Building on an understanding of the health and care needs of the Somerset population and consultation with key stakeholders, the Health and Wellbeing Board has identified four key priorities where they believe partnership working could make the biggest difference:

  • A county infrastructure that drives productivity, supports economic prosperity and sustainable public services
  • Safe, vibrant and well-balanced communities able to enjoy and benefit from the natural environment
  • Fairer life chances and opportunity for all
  • Improved health and wellbeing, and more people living healthy and independent lives for longer

The strategy also identifies several Partnership Boards who are already working to deliver aspects of this vision through existing plans and strategies. These include the Safer Somerset Partnership, Somerset Growth Board and Fit for my Future.

You can view the Improving Lives Strategy here.

New VCSE Safeguarding Funding Programme Launched

DCMS and the Big Lottery Fund have today launched a joint funded programme investing £1.14m until 2022, as part of the wider Government strategy to improve safeguarding practice across the voluntary sector in England.

This funding will be used to develop training, support and advice for the sector and will be delivered in two phases:

Phase 1: Safeguarding resources for England, launched 10th December for Expressions of Interest, closing on 14th January with projects commencing by the end of March 2019.
This is up to a maximum of £570,000 worth of funding for an organisation or partnership of organisations with the track record and knowledge to develop high quality resources which will be freely available to the voluntary sector to improve safeguarding practice.

Phase 2: Safeguarding training and development to be launched in spring/summer 2019.
Funding to a small number of organisations or partnerships to share the resources developed during Phase 1 and support grassroots charities and community organisations to improve their safeguarding practice.

If you are looking to submit a bid, please email

Funding Available for Taunton Groups

The Larkfleet Homes Community Fund supports charitable projects that help to enhance and develop the local community, and benefit Larkfleet residents and other local people.

Applications are now open, and constituted groups delivering charitable projects which will benefit communities within a 10 mile radius of the Larkfleet Rise development in Taunton, are invited to apply.

Find out more here.