Developing advocacy materials with care-experienced young people to inform and improve services and support for other care-leavers across England and Wales.
England and Wales
Kate Watson and Tom Elkins
Kate Watson, Rachael Burns, Lauren Parr
National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), The Care Leavers Association, Catch 22, Drive Forward Foundation
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
‘Care Leavers in Focus’ is a 3-year project which will explore the perspectives of care-experienced young people of different ages across England and Wales. The project will use photography and storytelling as a tool for advocacy and self-expression, as participants reflect on their perspective of what they need from relevant support services and providers.
The insights from the first phase of photography and digital storytelling workshops will be developed into new resources that will be distributed across England and Wales to help strengthen how care-leavers are supported.
In England alone, approximately 10,000 young people leave care each year, many of whom have experienced challenging upbringings; encountering abuse, neglect and family breakdown. Research shows that they are over-represented in national statistics on disadvantage and social exclusion, and often face barriers that affect their transition into independent living when they leave the care system.
These young people may require additional support from services in living skills such as budgeting, applying for work, education or training, building support networks, accessing local services and housing. This project aims to influence these services to better reflect the experiences of those who may rely on them.
PhotoVoice has created a consortium of partners with organisations which specialise in supporting care-experienced young people across different geographical areas of the UK.
Working with the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), the Drive Forward Foundation and The Care Leavers Association, PhotoVoice will deliver four sets of workshops with different age groups of young people currently in care, or who have transitioned out of care (aged 25+).
The workshops will focus on exploring views and insights into being in and leaving care, with participants exploring ways to advocate for issues that matter to them. Participants will have the opportunity to build a range of skills and improve their confidence through photography and involvement at different stages throughout the duration of the project.
The second phase of the CLiF project brings together the combined expertise of care-experienced young people, Local Authorities across England and Wales, and key organisations working to support people in and out of care, to draw upon the insights from the workshops and explore opportunities for change and a strengthened model of service provision. Through a programme of group discussions, training and outreach activities, the project will develop and test new resources that will help inform relevant services about how they can better respond to the needs of care-leavers.
PhotoVoice will work with CliF partners to disseminate these new resources across the UK, and evaluate their impact of supporting better experiences for care-experienced young people they journey through preparation, transition and onwards into independent adult life.
In each of the four workshops in Phase 1, participants will produce captioned images with advocacy messages and digital stories, which will be shared at local exhibitions and celebrations.
Feedback from organisations which work with Care Leavers suggest many of the complex needs of care-experienced young people continue to go unrecognised by some support services, resulting in many young people transitioning out of care lacking the emotional wellbeing, and/or life skills to recognise and realise their rights and the support services available to them.
The participant-led development of new materials and resources to support others in similar situations, provides an important opportunity for participants to make sense of their experiences for future safeguarding, and providing ways for service providers and practitioners to support them better in their preparation for successful transitions into independent living.
The new resources developed from the insights of participants will influence the provision of services for care-experienced young people across England and Wales, ensuring that their voices are central in championing changes to the support that they receive.
“It makes people open up and see different things, it shows what’s different in other people’s minds”
“It gave me confidence to show things that I feel are important and to show others that my voice counts”
“PhotoVoice, the course was actually enlightening. I feel as though I was at school again where I was learning something new. It was exciting to contribute a few hours of my time to discuss my experience and my advocacy work of me being in care, and having other people on the project really was interesting because we are all so different and bring different ideas and concepts to the table. ”
“An experience I didn’t know I needed”
“It was very helpful and much more easy to talk since you are with people who have gone through what you have”