This was the first event for Care Leavers in West Sussex, held at the Glynn Owen Centre. The aim of the event was to review how the Leaving care service has been for them since age eighteen and ideas about how to develop a care leavers group.
The day started with welcomes from Graham Vagg, Head of Leaving Care service and Richard Rollinson from the National Care leavers Foundation, setting the importance and impact care leavers forum have on services.
Care leavers discussed what has worked well and what has worked not so well.
The things the group found were working well were:-
- Transition from social workers to PA worked well
Those that the group found were not working well were: –
- not providing what they said they would in accommodation
- When I left care I was given a flat, but lost my social worker
- Not enough support at 16 to be living on my own
- Social worker never visited me and seemed to have no interest in anything to do with me.
- I was never informed of who my social worker was which changed a lot
- Never got help about moving forward
- Never got help with budgeting
- As a care leaver with no family I struggled finding places to live and social services allowed me to live in a B&B and then a hostel. They left me to go to the council and told me it wasn’t anything to do with them.
- Losing my PA
- Always changing workers
- Had to pay to see my own file
- No help finding a job, had to do it all myself, and still can’t find a job
- Haven’t got enough money to pay for transport to take a job too far from my home, and no support from social services
- Not listening to almost everything I said or my family said (i.e. didn’t want to move out of West Sussex and did)
- My voice wasn’t heard in my placement move
- Pathway plans never work
- Not taking complaints seriously
- Had to pay to see my files which was information about me
- Not being listened to
The group was then asked to think of solutions to some of these problems if they were in charge of the Leaving care service.
- Don’t move young people out of West Sussex
- Listen to the young people
- Support service for foster children and supported lodgings
- Safe place to complain and express concern in confidence
- Don’t charge people to see their own file
- Allow access to your old foster carers at any time- as they are the ones who are important in your life
- Have a cookery course, and budget training
- Change the council housing policy in relation to “local connection”, as its not our fault we have been living in different places and can’t meet the 2 year rule.
- We need someone to actually teach care leavers how to cook, as you can’t just learn from a book
Care leavers discussed moving forward
The group looked at what they would like the new care leaver’s forum to look like and do.
They suggested the following things:-
- Online community – possibly on Facebook – as lot of people can’t actually be there
- Opportunity to Skype in to meetings or watch them
- Have our own website so people know what is going on
- Hold fun events – a chance for care leavers to get together informally
- Meetings should be 2 hours long
- Transport should be provided by leaving care service either through a travel warrant, or money put on our p card to pay for it, or taxis arranged
- Have lots of social events such as food nights, and cooking sessions
- Meetings should be fortnightly
- Meetings should be in the daytime for those attending today, as that is when we can make it, 11-1pm in Worthing
- Wanted to meet at Glyn Owen centre again for the first meeting
Seven of those who attended said that they would like to take part in future care leaver’s forum meetings.
Next steps forward from this meeting:
- Feedback issues raised to Leaving Care Service
- Facebook page established
- Meetings and venue booked for: Monday 7th December @ The Glynn.