Representatives from the Children in Care Council and Care Leavers group from West Sussex were invited to attend a roundtable meeting with the Children’s Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, on Wednesday 21st March, 5-6pm. The meeting was chaired by Anne Longfield- the Children’s Commissioner and provided the young people with the opportunity to meet with the Minister and talk about their views and experiences of the care system.
Below are Carley’s thoughts:
I attended a roundtable meeting with the Children’s Minister in London. The main aim of the session was to tell the Minister our personal experiences of being in care, and talking about both the positives and negatives of being in care, transitioning, etc.
I really enjoyed the session and I felt that I was able to say everything that I wanted to and I felt like I was listened to. I shared some of my personal experiences and I raised issues such as: the lack of training to foster carers around how abuse and neglect have effects leading in to adulthood and do not just affect you when you are young; the lack of emotional support and understanding from foster carers; the lack of understanding around drugs and addiction and raised the issue of how many care leavers get made homeless when becoming 18. I was happy that everyone in the room was able to have their say and express their own views. I felt that some people in the room were not open to discussing the negatives and were trying to only talk about the positives because of their own positive experiences, but the negatives were also spoken about and the issues that were raised were very valid and if there are no negatives then nothing would need to be changed when it clearly does. The Minister was very good at trying to understand everyone’s personal experiences and individual issues that people have faced. I felt like there was a lot of variety in the room, with people from different backgrounds and different experiences. I learnt that there are a lot more reasons why people go in to foster care than I originally thought. There was a boy that spoke about being trafficked into the country and being an asylum seeker and it helped me understand that people have very different backgrounds and people have faced many different struggles in life and everyone has their own story.
The event has made me want to get more involved with representing people in care and care leavers again. I feel like there are a lot of people that do not get the same opportunities that I do to have my voice heard. I wish to help these people have their voices heard and to help them make a positive difference to help other people have better outcomes from the care system in the future. I am hoping to get in contact with the Minister directly and express my own views more so that I can go into more detail about the issues that people in care and care leavers face. Hopefully this would help him understand the issues in more detail and hopefully this will influence some positive changes.