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We’ve created the guidance below to help you with your submission, including some questions to consider.

We understand the binary between people with ‘lived experience’ and professionals and others in the care system can often reinforce unhelpful and unequal power dynamics. It also fails to recognise those who have varied personal and professional experiences which contribute to who they are and what they have to say. The guidance below is split to make the call for evidence as accessible as possible for different audiences, not to weaken the collective voice which we all have in creating a better care system. 

For care-experienced young people and adults

This guidance has been drafted primarily to support care-experienced young people with sharing their views, but we also encourage submissions from adults with lived experience of care.

For carers, professionals, local authorities and other organisations

We also welcome submissions from individuals and organisations with other relevant personal or professional experiences and an interest in improving the care system.

 

For care-experienced young people and adults

Background

In January 2021, the government launched the Independent Review of Children's Social Care. This review aims to hear from lots of people with different personal and professional experiences – including children, adults and families with experience of care or being supported by a social worker. It will then make suggestions to government on how to improve the support which children and their families get.

To help with this, the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers wants to provide another opportunity for care-experienced young people (and others) to share their views and inform the review. As someone with experience of care, you’ve got a valuable perspective on what needs to change, and you might even have some suggestions on how to do it. That’s why we’ve created this ‘call for evidence’ to hear from you. We will also be running lots of online sessions with groups of children in care and care leavers to get their views.

 

Care and community

We’re calling this the Spotlight Inquiry as we want to shine a light on what care looks like across the country – what’s the same across areas and regions and what’s different? We’re keen to learn how you’ve been (or haven’t been) supported to feel a part of a community when in or leaving care – this might be within the area or region you’re living now, or based on a part of your identity that’s important to you like your care experience or where you grew up. This includes what might have changed as a result of the pandemic. At the end, we’ll have lots of information about how to support care-experienced young people to have stronger relationships with their communities, and how wider communities can be supported to understand and respect their care-experienced members.

 

How to contribute

You can share your views however you’d like – from written text (bullet points are fine) to more creative methods and everything in between, including drawings, videos, photos, poems, songs or anything else.

You can share whatever you’ve put together through our online form or by emailing appg@becomecharity.org.uk.

Although the deadline for submitting evidence has passed, we are still accepting evidence from care-experienced young people. Please get in touch at appg@becomecharity.org.uk

 

Some questions to help you get started

We’ve shared some questions here to help you get thinking. Do just see these just as helpful prompts – you don’t need to answer each and every one of them. Feel free to go beyond these particular questions or just focus on just one or two.

Communities

  • What does the word ‘community’ mean to you?
  • What communities do you think you’re a part of?
  • How does it make you feel to be a part of these communities?
  • What relationships do you have with the other people in these communities?

Your local community

  • What do you see as your local community? 
  • Has your experience of care changed what you see as your local community? If you’ve moved areas or where you live in care, or you’ve left care, how has this changed your view of community?
  • Do you feel connected to your local community? Has this changed over time?
  • Do you feel like others in your local community have a good understanding of what it means to be in care?
  • What messages would you share with others in your local community if you could?

Helping you feel connected

  • What things help you feel more connected to your local community?
  • What things stop you feeling more connected to your local community?
  • Have you been supported by your carers or professionals (like your social worker or personal adviser) to feel connected with your local community? If so, in what ways?
  • What things do you think carers and professionals could do to help you feel more connected?

Care-experienced community

  • Do you feel connected to a wider community of other children in care/care leavers?
  • Do you feel a connection to other children in care/care leavers in your local area, outside your local area, or neither/both?
  • What things help you to feel connected to other children in care or care leavers?
  • What things stop you feeling connected to other children in care or care leavers?
  • How have you been supported to meet others who have experience of care?

Covid-19 pandemic

  • Have you felt more or less connected to your local community during the pandemic?
  • What has made you feel more or less connected to your local community during this time?
  • Have you felt more or less connected to other communities during this time?
  • What has impacted how connected you’ve felt to other communities during this time?
  • What are your hopes for the future as things return to look more like ‘normal’? Is there anything which you hope continues?

Support when contributing

If you’d feel comfortable, and especially if you’re contributing by yourself, you might find it helpful to chat through your thoughts with a trusted friend, family member or someone like your social worker or personal adviser before submitting. You also might find that reflecting on your own personal experiences to create your submission feels quite difficult or draining, or brings up emotions you weren’t expecting. If you find this, don’t worry – it’s completely normal to feel this way and there are people you can turn to for some support.

We’re most interested to hear your views because we believe in the expertise held by those with lived experience of care and the value of your contributions to the Inquiry. We recognise that some people may have been through traumatic experiences whilst in care. We do not require you to recount these experiences here, but you are free to include what you'd like to. We are happy for you to share your views on the topics outlined in the submission guidance without disclosing any personal experiences. We are not asking for any personal information (e.g. name, local authority) from those submitting to the call for evidence, but if you do choose to share something in your submission that suggests you or someone else is at risk and there is identifying information that enables us to follow up accordingly (e.g. by contacting the relevant children’s services team), we will do so in line with our safeguarding policy.

If you want some specific advice or support around an issue to do with care, or if you're feeling a bit low and want someone to speak to, the team at Become are here to help you.  You can contact us Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm on 0800 023 2033 or at advice@becomecharity.org.uk. You can also take a look at our Care Advice Line webpage and coronavirus advice webpage for further information, tips and other places to go for advice.

After you've submitted

You’ll get a notification to say thanks and to confirm we’ve received your submission. Congratulations!

We’ll be collecting all of the incredible insights you and others have kindly shared with us and reading, watching or listening to each and every one. From what we’ve learned, we’ll create a report and some other materials to share the key themes, messages and some recommendations. This will be shared with the review team directly to inform their work and ensure that community is seen as an important part of the review’s recommendations.

Any submission you make will be treated anonymously, and no personal details will be published in any of the Inquiry’s reports or other materials.

 

 

For carers, professionals, local authorities and other organisations

Background

In January 2021, the government launched the Independent Review of Children's Social Care., led by Josh MacAlister as Chair. The review has been billed as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to bring about radical change to a system too often failing the children, young people and families it should be supporting.

In response, the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers has launched its Spotlight Inquiry, which aims to shine a light on the care system – or systems – across the country. The Inquiry will explore how the care system is experienced in different areas and regions, celebrating examples of where children in care and care leavers are supported and empowered to feel connected to their local and wider communities. The Inquiry will provide an opportunity for people with different personal and professional experiences to share their views and expertise to inform the review.

 

Care and community

We want to put the spotlight on how experiences in and after care can be improved in ways which recognise and harness communities. This is particularly significant in early 2021 as the country continues its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The close community ties which allowed the pandemic to spread so rapidly were also those which gave many strength and resolve in the face of crisis.

However, to truly ‘build back better’ and ‘level up’ our communities, we must recognise those who have been most impacted by the pandemic. Care-experienced young people often report feeling less connected to their communities – dislocated from where they may have been before and stigmatised where they may be now. Navigating messy concepts of identity and belonging is often even more difficult for care-experienced people given the instability, inconsistent relationships, and lack of agency experienced by many before, during and after their time in care.

The care system is too facing a moment where it risks destabilising further young people’s connections to the communities that matter to them. Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the number of children living outside of their local area, complicated by a deepening postcode lottery of support and provision, and continued public misunderstanding about what it means to be in or leaving care.

Any successful review of children’s social care must consider the power of community, we’re excited about how the Spotlight Inquiry can support the review in its difficult task. At the end, we'll understand more about when and how care-experienced young people have been supported well to have stronger relationships with their communities, and where wider communities have been supported to understand and respect their care-experienced members.

 

How to contribute

You can share your views however you’d like – from written text (bullet points are fine) to more creative methods and everything in between, including drawings, videos, photos, poems, songs or anything else.

You can share whatever you’ve put together through our online form or by emailing appg@becomecharity.org.uk. 

Although the deadline for submitting evidence has passed, we are still accepting evidence from care-experienced young people. Please get in touch at appg@becomecharity.org.uk

Questions to consider

Please find here some questions below to help you or your organisation with your submission. Do see these as helpful prompts rather than a template you must follow – you don’t need to answer each question and are welcome to go beyond these or just focus on just one or two as suits you or your organisation.

Local communities

  • How do you consider ‘community’ to mean in the context of your work or practice?
  • What do you see as different or even unique about the care system in your local area or region?
  • How does this impact on care-experienced young people’s engagement with their communities?
  • What have care-experienced young people told you about their sense of belonging or connection to their local communities?
  • How do you think experiences in and leaving care impact on young people’s connections with their local communities?
  • Do you feel as though your wider local community has a good understanding of what it means to be in care?

Supporting connections

  • How do you support care-experienced young people to connect with their local community, and support communities to connect with their care-experienced members?
  • What things do you think help care-experienced young people to feel more connected to their local community?
  • What things prevent care-experienced young people from feeling more connected to their local community?
  • What things do you think other carers and professionals, or organisations supporting care-experienced young people, could do to help them feel more connected?

Care-experienced community

  • Do the young people you support feel connected to a wider community of other children in care/care leavers, either within their local area or beyond?
  • What things do you think help them feel connected to other children in care or care leavers?
  • What things do you think prevent them feeling connected to other children in care or care leavers?
  • How do you support young people to meet others who have experience of care?

Covid-19 pandemic

  • Do you think the care-experienced young people you support have felt more or less connected to their local community or other communities during the pandemic?
  • What factors have influenced their connections to these communities during this time?
  • What do you hope will change as a result of the pandemic in terms of care-experienced young people’s engagement with their (local) communities?
Practice examples

Please share any specific examples of practice, projects or other ‘case studies’ of where you have seen successful (or unsuccessful) work to support care-experienced young people to engage with their local communities.

After you've submitted

You’ll get a notification to say thanks and to confirm receipt of your submission.

We’ll be collecting all of the submissions received alongside the insights gathered through the online evidence sessions to create a report and other materials to share key themes, messages and recommendations from what we've heard. This will be shared with the review team directly to inform their work and ensure that community is seen as an important part of the review’s recommendations.

We'd like to publish and thank all those groups and organisations who contribute evidence and reference or link to your submission directly in the final report (and other outputs). However, your group or organisation can also choose to submit anonymously if you'd prefer.