27 August 2021

Committee recognises CLD's important Covid recovery role

Members of the Education and Children’s Services Committee acknowledged the vital part Aberdeenshire’s Council’s Community Learning and Development Team (CLD) will play over the coming years.

The CLD Plan Refresh 2021-2023 outlines the how the Coronavirus pandemic has heightened existing inequalities in Aberdeenshire as well as exposing vulnerable community members to “adverse shocks”.

It warns Covid-19 is likely to widen inequality as disadvantaged families are likely to experience poorer mental and physical health and wellbeing, lower life satisfaction, and loneliness.

CLD aims to meet these challenges by working collaboratively with council services as well as counterparts in youth justice and health services to ensure adequate and sufficient support is available to assist disadvantaged communities as the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic takes place. Partners include volunteers, schools, colleges, third sector organisations and other community planning partners including those who are members of the Aberdeenshire Learning Communities Partnership.

Information in the plan has been informed by engagement, data analysis and planning from the stakeholders. It creates the context for joint planning, collaboration and cooperation to improve learning outcomes for learners, and supports working in partnership, across the organisation, with all council services and local partners.
Consideration will also be given to the impact on disadvantaged children and young people as well as communities as a whole as part of an ongoing assessment. There will also be a focus on renewal and recovery amongst local CLD services within Local Outcomes Improvement Plans and other relevant strategies.

Another priority outlined in the plan is assisting with increasing digital connectivity in Aberdeenshire. As the restrictions to combat the Coronavirus pandemic were enacted, CLD and its partners increased the delivery of activities, courses and projects online as well as keeping in touch with service users virtually. Evaluation of online initiatives reported positive experiences by those using the digital platforms, as well as increased reach and high levels of retention.

Whilst there is a keenness for CLD to resume face-to-face meetings and events, the service acknowledges that a blended approach combining digital and in person opportunities will continue to be an important element of meeting their needs.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “CLD will play an important part in assisting with our role in helping Aberdeenshire’s communities recover from the Coronavirus pandemic. They will be front and centre in ensuring children and young people receive wellbeing, physical and mental health support and working with colleagues across the council in helping those most in need as the full impact of Covid-19 becomes clear.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “I am pleased to see the positive responses from those who have used CLD’s online services – as they might need the assistance the most. It’s encouraging to see a blended approach is being explored so that in future everyone can receive the support they need.”

To read the report in full please visit https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=494&meetid=19867

To watch a webcast of the Education and Children’s Services Committee please visit Home - Aberdeenshire Council Webcasting (public-i.tv)