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Care leavers

Celebrating the work of the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum

Close-up of two glass trophies with NLCBF and YPBMF branding on them. The first is for Best Networker 2017 and the second is for YPBMF Champion of the Year 2017.

The National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum is an important platform which brings together local authority leaving care services for professional and practice development, by working with young care leavers across the country in the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum (YPBMF).

Over 75 care leavers and 25 professionals from 27 local authorities came together at the University of Salford to celebrate good practice from across the country on Thursday 26th October. Nat O’Brien, Senior Project Co-ordinator for the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum talks us through the day.

This event was set-up to celebrate the work of the Young People’s Benchmarking Forum, and encourage knowledge-sharing and collaboration. Attendees shared a range of ideas and views through exhibitions, workshops, discussions and speeches.

The event began with a market place where care leavers and practitioners could pitch their best-practice ideas and collect ideas from other local authorities.

Attendees also heard from Mark Riddell MBE about his life in care and his commitment to working to improve outcomes for care leavers, as well as award-winning comedian Sophie Willan about her experience of growing-up in care, making mistakes and becoming successful.

Young People’s Benchmarking Forum Champions (Billie Jo, Darrien, Duncan, Faye and Kieran) delivered a session about the role of the ‘Champion’ and how it had helped them with their own personal and professional development, whilst enabling local authorities to understand the key priorities for care leavers.

A number of workshops were held throughout the day –  speed-benchmarking style – where young people and practitioners had the chance to talk to other services and organisations such as Barnardos, Ofsted, Department for Education, NNECL and Aim Higher. There were also important breaks for snacks, a chocolate fountain, and a musical collaboration from ‘The String Beans’ alongside Cornwall and Newcastle!

Finally, awards were presented to young people who had excelled in the Forum:

  • NLCBF Logo Design: Tiffany and David from Newcastle, who will be travelling to London to work with a designer to take their design from concept to reality
  • NLCBF Best Positive Message: Sophie from Knowsley
  • Best Networkers: Team Hartlepool
  • NLCBF/YPBMF Best Poster and Pitch: Team Stoke
  • YPBMF Champion: Billie Jo from Hartlepool who has been exceptionally well as a member of the forum, attending multiple sessions, presenting at YPBMF events, managers events and thematic events
  • NLCBF/YPBMF Best Co-produced Project: The Young Health Help web app from Western Trust/Northern Ireland

Attendees described the app as:

  • “Inspired. Practical. Useful. Up to date. Young person-led and young person-designed. Career development for the young people involved. Really useful and well impressive!”
  • “I like the fact they have made an app online that can help people who are embarrassed to go to the doctors.”

We are grateful to all who attended for making the journey and filling the room with such positive energy! A big thanks to all those Young People’s Benchmarking Forum Champions for their support on the day and for making the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum and Young People’s Benchmarking Forum such a success all year round.

We can’t wait until next year.

– Nat O’Brien, Senior Project Co-ordinator for the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum