State of the Borough Debate: Community leaders set out plans to help Kingston recover after the pandemic

Kingston community leaders pledged to invest time and resources into supporting the borough’s young people after the pandemic.

Peter Mayhew-Smith, leader of the South Thames Colleges Group, pledged to invest time and resources into individualised teaching and providing mental health to students.

Speaking at an online conference, hosted by Kingston Council, Mayhew-Smith said: “The partnership between us and the mental health support services is allowing us to campaign on all sorts of issues with mental health providers. Partnership working, good diagnostics and identification of people in need at an early age are really important.”

He said that his colleges had seen mental health case work double since the pandemic and that they were investing significant resources into their safety nets.

Archie O’Neill, a representative of Creative Youth, added that arts and culture are proven to help young peoples’ mental health and that his organisation was committed to helping young people.

Dr Naz Jivani, clinical chair for Kingston’s Clinical Commissioning group said that Kingston hospital was coping well with the backlog of appointments caused by the pandemic.

He said: “Currently there are only 26 patients who are waiting longer than 52 weeks. Against the Southwest London position of 1100, Kingston hospital is doing quite well.” 

He added: “Very few patients are waiting over 25 weeks and the 18-week waits are significantly reducing.”

Jivani promised to ensure the safeguarding their staff’s mental wellbeing after two extremely challenging years.

Forbes Low, Chief Executive of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce said: “Within the two years, £61 million has been given to 21,000 businesses across the borough.”

He also mentioned the business expos that the chamber offered and the fact they managed to get 60 young people into jobs.

He highlighted the importance of skills and employment courses in schools and education as being crucial for helping young peoples’ employability. 

Kirsch added: “We have a high street fund and we want to help all our local centres.”

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