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Care Leavers – Young People’s National Benchmarking Forum

Today, we went to the Young people National Benchmarking Forum (YPNBF), where young people and professionals came together from different local authorities to discuss issues regarding care leavers.

Key themes & topics discussed

  • Council tax – this was free for care leavers in another local authority, this would be great in West Sussex as this would be one less worry if this was taken away, more money could go towards helping with essentials and stop young people going into debt “stop the cycle”. Council tax tends to be the bill that is enforced more and it continues to go up.
  • Apprenticeships – Other local authorities seem to be doing this well, offering apprenticeships to care leavers.  Maybe it should focus purely on this.  Other authorities offer work experience at 14, which gives a clear understanding of the role and direction.
  • Ways of advertising what we do and ways to get involved in voice/children looked after (CLA) work- getting out there more, need to  draw more people in, drawing up interest about the care leavers forum, having key hooks for young people to join in, key things to relate to.
  • Ideas – we could go round face to face seeing people, having a “pop up” care leavers forum in residential homes, youth centres, existing groups,  getting a van, information on services,  games etc.
  • Young people/care leavers to engage in work around youth work and care leavers- getting young people to be in the right zone, and being clear on tasks, “everyone in the care system has an interest”. I think it would work if all young people worked  together, different people do specific work which they are interested in. Maybe campaign groups. 6 young people would be a good number.  Serious young people maybe add a qualification to get them to engage or involved.

My thoughts about attending the day

Positive, enjoyed it would do it again. The concept of YPNBF is invaluable and things to go on in other places, good moral booster “yes I can, do that” it was inspirational. I thought that the staff from the national benchmarking forum really do want to help young people make a change.

Good practice I saw.

Care leaver apprenticeships actually doing the participation role in the authority.

Positive stories and what people have achieved- particularly at Wandsworth.

Training flat – giving young people an opportunity to try to live there on their own.

What needs to change in West Sussex going forward

We should look at own groups and build a good care leavers forum, with stronger and more serious members and effect change through this with a mixture of different people of different experiences, and who are motivated to do it.

What I want to do going forward from the meeting?

Get this out there in the right way, post all this on a blog, this is just what one person, imagine what we could achieve!!

Share this with Graham Vagg, asking for his support.  Ask the personal advisors to support we will are trying to achieve- to understand the importance of young people’s voice and how we want to do something positive. This needs his team support.  Staffs needs to get the word out.

To summarise we need to:  Change council tax, having a job is so important, advocate about the work experience and have more apprenticeships, We need more Government backed schemes to employ care leavers. Listen to care leavers and their experiences, as they are real and valuable. We need to make care leavers feel good about themselves

What I have taken away from today?

Positivity and drive! Go into my work life, relationships etc.

Written by a West Sussex Care leaver, aged 23.

Read more blogs from Children in Care.

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