New Belongings - A tale of hope?
By Matt Langsford
SCIE opinion – 06 March 2015
I was one of the younger care leavers that co-produced the SCIE care leavers stories project. It was a great example of co-production; I’ve been working with SCIE over the last 2 years on various projects that have fully embedded the principles of co-production throughout. So let’s talk about a new project I’m involved in.
Sometimes we hear care leavers using terms like ‘segregated’ to describe their experience of life after care. According to New Belongings, the organisation where I’m a consultant, this ‘shames us all’. They say that care leavers need to be respected as people in their own right; developing as young adults and becoming full members of community and society. But we know that this doesn’t always happen. I should know because I have some experience in this area.
New Belongings is focusing on how councils can better create services which are fully integrated, easily accessed, and which addresses those issues I mention above. I'm a 23 year old care leaver and my consultant work for New Belongings Project is organised by The Care Leavers' Foundation.
I think that New Belongings is an innovative project; care leavers and local authorities are reviewing and co-producing services to develop and improve them; this to meet the needs of the local care leavers, enhancing the prospects and outcomes of my fellow care leavers. The project is funded by the Department for Education and the overall objective is to create the 'gold standard' of leaving care services.
In phase one (April 2013 to October 2014), the project saw enormous achievements; from the participating authorities giving a tale of hope and opportunity for a second phase; to build and enhance on the achievements made so for.
Now we are embarking on phase two, I hope that by the end of the 18 months we will have further developed and secured the foundations for all local authorities to go about developing and delivering their gold standard of leaving care services. Within this phase I hope to see communities – and society - coming together to support their local care leavers.
They’ll be working with the 20 local authorities who are involved to do this. Whether this is through developing mentoring schemes, via employment schemes or by providing a comfortable space for care leavers to engage and feel a valued member of their local communities; we can all benefit from supporting each other. Please get in touch with your local authority lead officer to discuss how you can help.
I am looking forward to enabling those involved to continue to drive these changes and am looking forward to working with the communities involved to see how we can work together to benefit care leavers.