Raise aspirations, build resilience and encourage care leavers to reach their potential – key messages from this year’s Care Leavers’ Conference 2016
2 November 2016
National Care Leavers’ week 2016 was marked with a series of events across the country aimed at celebrating the achievements of children and young people in care. On Tuesday 25 October, The Prince’s Trust hosted the annual Care Leavers’ Week Conference in London. The event brought together care leavers, practitioners and decision makers from across the sector to celebrate success, hear from inspiring young people and share positive approaches to working with care leavers.
The event heard from a range of speakers on subjects including building resilience and supporting mental health, professional mentoring and employment opportunities, widening participation in higher education, and the importance of raising aspirations and providing positive role models for care leavers. Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, gave the keynote speech and talked about the importance of making the past, present and future of care leavers everyone’s business.
Jacob Tas, Nacro’s Chief Executive, was invited to speak about how care leavers can be supported when they are released from custody. As highlighted by the recent Laming Review, 94% of children in care in England do not get in trouble with the law. However, around half of the 1,000 children currently in custody in England and Wales have been in care at some point.
“Aren’t looked after children supposed to be looked after?” (Young person involved in a BYC consultation event)
Using evidence from the Beyond Youth Custody Programme, Jacob talked about the importance of addressing the overrepresentation of looked after children in custody and getting resettlement right for these young people. The key is ensuring that agencies work collaboratively and share information so that looked after children’s status is identified, allowing for appropriate preparation for release to start at the point of a young person’s entry into custody. Encouraging user participation and involving young people as agents in their own resettlement is also crucial. Full details of the presentation can be found in the slides.
Some of the most powerful messages of the day came from young people who shared their experiences and recommendations with attendees. Amy Mook and Shelly Reed from York Children in Care Council spoke about the need for practitioners to inspire young people in their daily roles. They drew attention to the damage that negative statistics and headlines can have on young people and called for pessimistic narratives to be replaced with positive stories and role models. Find out more about the Aspire To More programme that champions successful care leavers here.
Thank you to The Prince’s Trust for organising such an inspiring and informative event, with particular thanks to the young people who spoke. For more information about The Prince’s Trust programme, ‘From Care to Independence’, also funded by the Big Lottery, visit their webpage.