National Care Leavers Week Celebration

Posted on 27 November 2018

Reflecting on National Care Leavers Week, looking at the co-production work between York researchers and care leavers.

Researchers from Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW) showcased their co-production work with care leavers at North Yorkshire County Council’s National Care Leavers Week celebration event at the Ron Cooke Hub, University of York.

Zainab Maqbool of SPSW's Child Welfare Research Group writes:

'In my role as Student Peer Research Assistant with SPSW’s Child Welfare Research Group, I attended the event to promote the peer research work that we do with care leavers by showcasing poster presentations on the Children Looked After Mental Health co-production project and the Bright Futures co-production project. This involved a discussion of some of the strengths that can come about from treating care leavers as experts in their own experiences. Not only can this strengthen the research itself but, by providing opportunities for research participants to co-produce the project, it provides training and opportunities for young people to develop skills that can be used in other areas of their lives. During the event, I hosted an information stall and was able to provide information on young people’s participation in research and find out how young people leaving care have their voices heard across North Yorkshire.'

Around 80 young people in and from care from North Yorkshire, as well as the people responsible for supporting them, gathered on the 25 October 2018 for the first of the country’s National Care Leavers Week conferences. Having recently been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, North Yorkshire is commended for excellent practice in creating opportunities for young people and encouraging them to reach their potential. The conference was a chance to celebrate achievements and raise awareness of the challenges faced by many of these young people. It showed the new care leaver film by Inspired Youth in collaboration with York Mediale; The One Percent.

The National Care Leavers Week (NCLW) was established in 2002 by an independent charity, The Care Leavers Foundation, to raise awareness of care leaver’s strengths, difficulties and support services. It brings together major charities and groups that work with care leavers. It is a week to reflect on an incredible group of young people with familiarity and experience of the care system. It recognises that while beginning the transition to independent adult life can be challenging for everyone, for care leavers independent living happens at an earlier age and can bring additional challenges. NCLW aims to not only highlight the needs of care leavers but to celebrate their successes. The purpose is to raise awareness of a minority group in society and encourage agencies that are responsible for these young people to work in ways that meet their needs and encourages their aspirations. Alongside celebrating young people’s successes, NCLW promotes the principle of good Corporate Parenting among support services. This is the idea that the support, encouragement and financial assistance that young people usually receive from their parents should be available to those starting the transition to adulthood without parental support by requiring services to act as a good parent would. Organisations that have been involved in NCLW over the years are: A National Voice; Catch 22 National Care Advisory Service; The Prince’s Trust; Barnados; and the University of York, which hosted and contributed to the main National Care Leavers Week Conference in October 2017.