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Is every week care leavers week?

As National Care Leavers Week 2017 draws to a close, Catch22's Director of Alternative Delivery Nerys Anthony reflects on why we should be thinking about care leavers every week.

03 November 2017

Much of my Catch22 time over the last couple of months has been spent considering care leavers. Primarily in the context of the Department For Education funded innovation programme I am leading for Catch22, with Southwark Council – but also in relation to the LifeLong Links pilot we are co-delivering in Coventry. I’ve never doubted that this was an area of children’s social care that needs a spotlight and service reform, but as every week goes by and I hear of the disparity of provision and support for care leavers across the country – the need for our work is cemented.

There are pockets of brilliance across the country and National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF) plays a part in showcasing and sharing that good practice to our members. On Friday Alice Frank, Catch22’s manager of NLCBF published her blog for SOLACE, highlighting corporate parenting as a golden thread that knits effective and responsive provision for care leavers in outstanding areas.

On Thursday I was privileged to attend the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum national celebration event. A co-produced event by young people, for young people, which truly inspired me. The market place of young people from different Local Authorities allowed the chance for good practice to be shared, with delegates inspired to return to their home authority and promote ideas for change. Co-produced projects and the work of the young people’s champions offered further food for thought. We shared positive messages, ate and danced together. I returned to London full of ideas for testing with Southwark’s young people, alongside our inspirational participation lead Faye (read her blog here).

My positive message was ‘I see the potential’… the potential in care leavers to achieve their ambitions; the potential for services and support to be so much better; the potential for local authorities to become the corporate parents they need to be and the potential for co-production to be embraced – we know the more we listen to young people, the more we will get it right.

I will continue to drive home these messages, to all who will listen. We should be thinking about the impact for care leavers every week of the year, not just during national care leaver week. We all need to be ambitious, and see the potential of those leaving care.