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The Young Adult Council

Young Adult Council (YAC) is a group of young people aged over 16 who meet every month. This group was started at the beginning of 2015 and since then the membership has grown and grown. At these meetings, you can talk about things that matter to older children in care and young care leavers such as accommodation, life skills and further education. Decision makers at Kent County Council and in other organisations often come to YAC to ask for their advice and suggestions before making any changes or introducing new policies that affect children and young people in care or care leavers. It is your opportunity to have your say, be listened to and make a difference to the lives of children and young people in care!

YAC members also like to have fun. They regularly do activities, meet for meals or fundraise for charity.

We will pay your travel expenses if you come to a meeting and provide food. If you attend YAC regularly, you may be eligible for a free Young Person’s Railcard too!

Are you are interested in joining YAC? Or do you just want to have your say? Please email: contact us for further details.

YAC Projects

Each year, members of the Young Adult Council decide on a series of aims to work towards. These projects cover a variety of topics important to children and young people in care and care leavers.

The Stigma Film

Together with the Apprentice Participation Workers, YAC contributed to a film that sets out to dispel the myths and stigma around children and young people in care and challenge negative stereotypes. It also highlights the need for professionals to have high aspirations for young people in care. The film is now being shared with professionals working in Kent County Council and people wishing to become foster carers. The film can be viewed above.

Life Hacks, Recipes and Tips

In October 2017, Centrepoint, a charity that supports young people at risk of homelessness, published the report, ‘Views from the frontline; what do young people need to move on from care successfully?’ After reading the key recommendations, YAC members wanted to highlight not only the challenges that young people face as they leave care but also the need for support and advice during the transition to independence. As part of this, they together with the Participation Team created a booklet, ‘Life Hacks, Recipes and Tips’. Full of simple recipes, handy hints and nifty tricks, some light hearted, some more serious, they hope that it proves a useful and enjoyable read for care leavers and those preparing to leave care in Kent. 

Virtual Triathlon

Every year, YAC chooses a charity that means something to them to support. In 2017, they decided to raise funds for The Umbrella Centre, a mental health charity based in Canterbury. Members of the Young Adult Council and VSK Apprentices completed a virtual triathlon – running, walking, cycling and rowing from County Hall in Maidstone to Calais and back again!

The Role of the Participation and Engagement Team

The Participation Team’s role is to encourage all children in care and care leavers to speak up, voice their opinions and to help shape the services that they receive. They work hard to support children and young people to attend events, council meetings and sit on interview panels. This ensures that everything that Kent County Council does for young people in care and care leavers includes their views.

Alongside two Participation Support Officers and a Project Officer, we also have Apprentice Participation Workers within the Participation Team. They are undertaking an apprenticeship with Virtual School Kent and are here to help bridge the gap between you and the Kent County Council Members and Senior Directors. They are all young people who have been in care at some point or have had similar experiences. Their role involves supporting young people, encouraging them to speak up about their views and experiences, and discussing what they would like to change about the care system.

They organise the activity days for young adults that are run in the school holidays. The activity days are an opportunity to meet new friends, build confidence and have fun.

Find out more about who works in the Participation Team and what the team does here. Link to Participation Team leaflet

Go to the News section to find out more about what the Participation Team has been up to and read our newsletters!

If you would like to get involved, have ideas about events or activities that could take place, want to share your opinions about the care system or are interested in becoming an Apprentice Participation Worker, please contact us.

Challenge Cards

What are Challenge Cards?

In February 2015, through consultation with young care leavers and children in care at the children in care councils, the VSK Participation Team developed the concept of Challenge Cards. These are a formal way for you to have your voice heard about issues faced by you as a young person in care or care leaver by your corporate parents and the decision makers at the council.

How can I make a Challenge?

Any young person in care or Care Leaver can raise a challenge. You can:

  • bring it directly to one of the children in care meetings that are held during the school holidays

  • Contact us

  • post it to VSK, Worrall House, 19 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4AE

  • give it to your social worker or personal adviser who will pass it to the VSK Participation Team

  • Complete a challenge online

You can download a copy of the Challenge Card here but if you don’t have one, just use a normal piece of paper.

What happens next?

The Challenge is taken to one of the Children in Care (CiC) Councils (the Super Council, OCYPC or YAC) where it is discussed. Challenges should be about issues that affect many children and young people in care and care leavers. Challenge Cards that are related to personal issues are passed to relevant professionals who can help the young person who has written the Challenge.

If the CiC Councils feel that the Challenge should be taken forward, it is discussed at the Children in Care Managers’ Meeting. It is the officers at this meeting who have the responsibility to decide on actions to meet the Challenge and who will carry out these actions. They must update the Children in Care Councils with their progress towards meeting the Challenge. It is also reported at the Corporate Parenting Panel. Find out more by reading our Young Person’s Guide to Challenge Cards here.

You Said, We Did

You said

Involve Children in Care in designing business cards with Social Workers’ details and contact information on them so they know who their Social Worker is and how they can contact them.

We did

The VSK Participation Team ran a competition to design the business card. The chosen design was made into a business card for Social Workers or Personal Advisers to fill out and distribute to the young people they work with. Ask your Social Worker or Personal Adviser for one if you don’t have yours! 

You said

For young people in care to be able to see their younger siblings who still live with their parents or live in another placement. To meet in a safe place with a contact manager and not with the rest of the family.

We did

A decision was taken to include a discussion in each review meeting so your views about seeing your brothers and sisters are clear. This was shared with all the Independent Reviewing Officers.

You said

For Kent County Council to provide a Young Person’s Railcard to YAC members to help them with their travel costs as a reward for becoming a YAC member.

We did

YAC members are now eligible for a paid for Young Person’s Railcard.

You said

For no young person to have their belongings packed into bin bags when they move or leave foster care which can make them feel particularly worthless at what could already be a difficult time for them. Using black sacks can make young people feel that they are ‘rubbish’ or of little value.  YAC wanted their Corporate Parents to review the ‘no bin bags’ policy and to ensure that all young people are provided with a suitcase or appropriate containers for moving home to enable them to pack up their belongings.

We did

Although there was already a policy in place to say that no bin bags should be used to move young people, this information was shared more widely in training sessions for foster carers. The policy was also reviewed and relaunched with a higher profile.

You said

If a young person over school leaving age decided to be fully independent and work full time paying their own rent, Kent County Council as a ‘Corporate Parent’ should act as the young person’s guarantor.

(A rent guarantor is someone who promises to pay your rent if you cannot do so. Often people on low incomes need a guarantor to rent a property)

We did

Kent County Council is committed to acting as a rent guarantor to support care leavers secure independent housing. A pilot project has recently begun.

Other ways to have a say

CORAM VOICE

Coram Voice are recruiting young people for two exciting opportunities – A National Voice and Young Citizens projects.

A National Voice

Who: For 16-25 year olds with experience of being in care

What: Lead a project which raises awareness and challenges stigma around being in care

More info: https://coramvoice.org.uk/professional-zone/national-voice

Contact: ellie.mindel@coramvoice.org.uk

Young Citizens

Who: For 16-25 year olds from migrant & refugee backgrounds

What: Take part in interactive workshops to share your views and learn new skills; make films & run events

More info: amy.spiller@coram.org.uk

Register here to join! www.coram.org.uk/youngcitizens

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

Young people wanted for a study on care leavers in higher education:

Researchers at University College London are looking for young people who lived in foster or residential care when they were younger to participate in a study about students’ experiences at university. The aim of the study is to understand how care experienced young people find being at university and how universities address the issue of student retention. We are seeking help with recruiting care experienced young people currently in higher education and those previously at university but who did not complete their course. Further information can be found here: https://studentsexperiencesinhighereducation.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/research-project-summary/

Updates and Opportunities

National Citizen Service

The National Citizen Service is the country’s fastest growing youth movement. Available to all teenagers aged 15 – 17, it’s a chance to explore, be inspired and find your passion. NCS is a four-phase programme that takes place over 3 – 4 weeks during the summer. It is specifically designed to provide you with all sorts of new experiences. Whether you’re a daredevil or creative genius, talkative or more reserved, you’ll be surprised by how much you’re actually capable of, coming away with a host of new skills and bags of confidence. If you want to boost your UCAS statement or CV, meet incredible people, get your voice heard and have a lot of fun while you’re at it, then NCS is for you. The programme normally costs £50 but young people in the care of Kent County Council can access it for free!

You can find out more about the programme by visiting the website. If you want to get involved, contact Catherine.Burton@kent.gov.uk to find out how.

Nearly 500,000 young people have already taken part – will you be next?

https://www.ncsyes.co.uk/