A five year plan to develop more job and training opportunities; give babies a better start in life, and improve the mental health of young people has been launched by a collective of public sector and voluntary organisations across Cwm Taf.
The ‘Cwm Taf Public Services Board’ is made up of organisations right across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf including health board, local authorities, police, fire service, voluntary sector, Natural Resources Wales and probation service.
The Board was set up after the Well-being of Future Generations Act was passed by the National Assembly, and is a revolution in the way local public services are being planned and delivered for the future.
The aim is to shift the focus from simply reacting as individual organisations to complex social problems, to addressing them together.
The Well-being Plan which will be published today (May 3rd) uses a ‘place-based approach’ where all partners will work together more effectively with residents to identify issues, priorities and potential solutions in targeted areas.
Ferndale/Tylorstown in Rhondda and Gurnos in Merthyr Tydfil have been identified as two pilot areas for the plan and if the approach is successful it will be rolled out to other communities across Cwm Taf.
Growing the workforce of the future is a key part of the Well-being Plan, specifically the provision of more education, job and training opportunities within the public sector organisations involved, to help develop a skilled and sustainable workforce locally.
Another key objective is to focus on a baby’s first 1000 days – from pregnancy through to 2 years of age. There will be a review of existing services to find out what changes need to be made to provide better support for new parents and babies.
The Well-being Plan will also seek to focus on prevention and early intervention to reduce the need for child and adolescent services, including mental health, and develop more integrated services involving health, social services and schools in the area.
Behaviour change campaigns encouraging healthier lifestyles and offering support will also begin with the organisations themselves by cross-promoting positive messaging among thousands of local staff.
Chair of the Public Services Board Professor Marcus Longley – who is also chair of Cwm Taf University Health Board – said, “This plan is all about how we improve things for future generations and make sure that the decisions we take today take a longer term view for their benefit. Although there is already lots of working together across our organisations, this collective approach will become really embedded in how we find solutions to some of the really challenging issues in our communities that each of us can’t address alone. I’m excited about the publication of the Well-being Plan today but I am under no illusion that the real work in getting tangible improvements that people can point to, is only just starting.”
South Wales Police Superintendent Phillip Ashby, said: “Community issues can be wide ranging and are rarely tackled effectively by one agency alone. This plan paves the way for a collaborative approach to problem solving which will help to ensure that solutions have a lasting impact and actually improve the quality of life and future prospects for people living across the Cwm Taf region.”
The Chairs of Interlink and Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil – Pauline Richards and Anne Roberts respectively – said, “We welcome the intention to make our communities a better place to live. We know that more people than ever feel lonely and are more isolated and this is a major cause of poor health both physically and emotionally. We can do this by strengthening the support for people in our communities and increasing volunteering”
Chief Executive of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, Chris Bradshaw said: “We are looking forward to improving the way in which we plan and deliver public services with our partners so that we make a real difference to the lives of people in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.”
Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Councillor Kevin O’Neill said: “Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has been a key partner since the implementation of the Board; working in partnership is central to everything we do. We are fully committed to making life better for all our communities and this Plan will ensure this is aim is achieved.“
A website called ‘Our Cwm Taf’ has been developed which provides information about the work of the Public Services Board and all the organisations that are part of it, showing the work they undertake together, as well as key information about the areas that are part of Cwm Taf.