Keeping children and young people at the centre of this review
I’m in the middle of A-levels at the moment and I’ve been stuck at home for what feels like an eternity. So when Josh MacAlister suggested we get together for a short video to talk about the review and the big themes in the Case for Change I jumped at the chance.
I didn’t just want to escape the books and feel the sun on my face. My main reason, and the reason I applied to be on the Experts by Experience board, is to make sure the review doesn’t lose sight of the people this review is about – children and young people like me.
I hope I’m not giving too much away when I reveal the Case for Change is really long and really detailed. Of course it is – this review covers so many different angles it would be impossible to summarise in a few pages. There are lots of detailed ideas in the document that experts and people with years of knowledge will pore over and discuss endlessly.
But as a young person currently in ‘the system’ I want to make sure we look up from the detailed analysis and talk about the big themes this review is covering in a way that children and young people can relate to. I hope my conversation with Josh will help to translate these big complicated issues and I’m excited for you to watch our little chat when the Case for Change is published this summer.
Pictures from the video filming
What I bring to the Experts by Experience board
I’m 17 and currently live with a foster carer. I joined the Experts by Experience board because I think it is so important for young people to be part of the review. I wanted to make things better for future generations who will be in my shoes in years to come.
I am the youngest member of the board and I believe this gives me a unique and fresh perspective. Sometimes, when you are a teenager in a room full of adults it can feel like it’s hard to get your voice across. But actually, I was really pleased when I came onto the board to find that the rest of the group often turns to me first to give a young person’s take on issues and I am more than happy to provide that because I know that it is so important for us to speak up.
I know from the inside what it is like to grow up in the care system. It can feel like a swirl of emotions and a constant set of challenges and problems that other young people don’t have to deal with.
Young people can blame themselves and wonder if they did something wrong to end up in care – although of course logically we know there are things in life we just cannot control.
I think it’s normal for teenagers to feel lonely sometimes but that feeling can be heightened for those in care. Children can find it hard to connect with foster families or trust the adults in their life and those in children’s homes may feel they have no-one to connect with.
The pandemic has made this even harder for everyone and I think we have all realised just how much our support networks matter. I believe that having other people to connect with – whether that is friends, brothers and sisters or adults – is so important to help deal with life’s challenges. No-one wants to think they are growing up in a ‘system’- we want love and connection and closeness. I am lucky to now have a great relationship with my foster carer and I feel part of her family – this type of support changes everything.
Love. Connection. Closeness. And above all relationships. If I had to summarise what I want to see from this review those would be my four aims. I hope more young people will take the opportunity to share their views with the review so the final recommendations can help to build a better system for everyone.