Our work to improve life chances

20 September 2018


Children running on a track

At the heart of everything we do is a simple aim: to improve the life chances of our residents.  Our actions should improve people’s lives and increase their opportunities.

Our work to improve life chances has started with our young people, where poverty and inequality can have a profound impact. We need our young people to succeed, to develop the skills that will take us through the decades to come, and to continue to build the cultural future of Waltham Forest.

Life Chances Commission

In 2017 we established a Life Chances Commission to gather evidence about how we can improve the life chances of our young residents. The Commission heard from young people, local residents, local businesses and educational institutions, and considered evidence from across London and beyond.

The Commission set out 30 recommendations for the council to improve the life chances of young people in the borough in their Enabling Young People to Thrive publication. 

Big Youth Conversation

Summer 2018 saw our biggest ever engagement with young people, with 2,500 of our youngest residents participating in the Big Youth Conversation, sharing their views on their aspirations, the challenges they face, and how the council could help them.

We heard that young people wanted more opportunities for work experience, traineeships and part-time jobs; better careers advice in schools; and more support for applications to top universities. Almost every young person told us that they want to be involved in decision making and the design of future actions to improve life chances.

Creating Futures for Young People

Based on these initial findings, we have set out our plan for improving life chances for young people, focusing on four priority areas for action: ensuring every child gets the best start in life; providing a good quality education for every child; supporting young people to be resilient, confident and healthy; and giving young people the opportunities to flourish. 

Increased funding pressure means we have to find different ways of working. We will work with you – our young people, parents, schools, colleges, businesses and partners – to develop the lasting solutions under each of these areas, to deliver improved outcomes for our young people. We want our young people to feel empowered and able to fulfil their dreams - we will continue to ask them about their experiences, work with them, and support them, tackling inequality and allowing every young person in the borough to thrive. 

You told us that you need more information on opportunities to empower you to succeed. Our Life Chances programme will support you to find out about the opportunities you want – be that work experience, apprenticeships, or employment opportunities – or the advice you need – from housing to health.

Over the coming months, we will work with young people to create an Opportunity Bank that matches young people’s individual need with an individual solution. If you are interested in being part of this development, contact policy@walthamforest.gov.uk.

The Waltham Forest Directory provides links to organisations and information that can offer support on many topics, including health, education, and money

Parents are key to the life chances of their children. We will work with parents and resident groups to make it easier to access childcare and support the youngest children at home.

We will shortly launch a new Early Years and Childcare Strategy that sets out our new approach to supporting access to childcare, and new Childcare Sufficiency Assessment to ensure we have sufficient places.  Our new Children and Family centre, The Junction, will increase the number of centres to five.

For parents of the youngest children, the Waltham Forest Directory has a wealth of information on childcare options, free childcare and our Children and Family Centres

For parents of older children, we will provide more support for during transitions and throughout life, including more resources for those important conversations on next steps and future careers.  We will work with parents on what they need through workshops, schools, parents evenings and parents groups.

To improve life chances of our young people, we must work in partnership with our early years settings, our schools and our colleges.

Over the coming months we will work closely with our early years centres, schools and colleges to ensure we collaborate as effectively as possible to deliver widespread high-quality education for our young people, and best support them and their parents to access the information and opportunities that they need to succeed.

If you want to find out more about how your organisation can get involved, please contact policy@walthamforest.gov.uk

Over the coming months we will collaborate with local businesses to ensure that we are doing as much as possible to provide young people with advice, work experience, apprenticeships and employment opportunities. We will also work with businesses to promote the Living Wage and seek to establish a Living Wage Zone.

Our businesses have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we will look at options to more effectively connect them to our young people, including through mentorship

If you want to find out more about how your business can get involved, please contact policy@walthamforest.gov.uk