National Leaving Care Forum
Jade Ward and Jo Dixon from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, along with Holly Hennell, Manager from York Cares, and two participants, Amy and Shelly, share the Bright Futures Practice Guide at the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF).
This national forum is a network of over 100 local authorities promoting the development of quality leaving care services with member authorities and partner organisations through a process of benchmarking and shared learning on a national scale, to enrich outcomes for the nations care leavers.
The Bright Futures project aims to support care experienced young people across York to increase and improve their employment related skills, knowledge and opportunities. The project brought together York Cares (an employee volunteering charity), the City of York Council, and leading local employers to deliver work experience and skills opportunities. The project offers a menu of options for young people, including a skill teaching session, such as learning interview techniques, CV writing, taster days, behind-the-scenes group work activities, and work placements. These are over a substantial number of days so that young people can get a realistic grasp of working in that particular environment, such as in a law firm or a supermarket.
As well as being able to showcase the project, recommending it nationally, we were also able to gain an insight into the wide variety of positive projects being implemented across the country in a way that highlighted that work is constantly being done to improve the services for care leavers in the UK. One of the participants that presented the Bright Futures project, Shelly, stated that, “it was really great meeting everyone on the day and hearing about what amazing work is going on for children in and leaving care. It’s great that these events take place because they make such a difference.”
Amy, a fellow participant that helped to deliver the Bright Futures presentation explains how events like this are vital, saying, “being in a room full of people that have the potential and passion to make significant changes for young people, as they have already, was both humbling and inspiring. Events like this remind us how poignant our voices are. Making us (care leavers/participants) realise that our experiences and opinions are going some way to inspire change for a wide cohort of care leavers. The event also highlighted how we are constantly striving for that utopian idea of trying to level the playing field between our (care leavers) so called disadvantages and so called 'normal' kids so that we can all have a shot at success regardless of our background, and create an actual sense of meritocracy. Events like this counteract the idea that we are a failing system, because, despite the restrictions in resources, local authorities continue to push care leavers to achieve their potential with the same passion that has existed since the creation of the National Care Leavers Benchmarking Forum.”
The Bright Futures Tool-kit outlines recommendations of what should be done if the project were to be repeated in a different local authority, as well as the opinions of other young people that participated in the project.