Young people with experience of living in care have seen their ideas turned into reality as part of a major renovation project at a residential home, which re-opened its doors this week.
The 10 week project at the property, operated by the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, has been designed around the suggestions of the Trust’s Young Advisors, after they were heavily consulted on the plans.
The Trust delivers children’s social care services on behalf of Doncaster Council, which has funded the renovation through its Public Buildings Maintenance budget. The latest work forms part of a total £650,000 programme to refurbish three of the Trust run homes.
A total of four children will live in the home - one of six run by the Trust. The other two which are currently undergoing refurbishment are scheduled to re-open in April.
The overall scheme, which forms part of the Trust’s business plan, will see a number of Doncaster children, who are currently living outside the area, returned to their home town and it also sees the creation of 30 new posts within the residential system.
One of the Young Advisors involved commented: “It is fantastic, through the Young Advisors’ scheme, to be given the opportunity to speak to managers and even the Chief Executive about the services we receive – and it was great to play a part in the renovation programme.
“As young people who have lived in children’s homes we were able to suggest ideas on how homes could be less like institutions – including being allowed to personalise our rooms.
“As well as décor, we also gave suggestions on things like taking account of children and young people’s family traditions. For instance, at times like Christmas, it would be nice for them to be involved in putting up the decorations and organising some games for Christmas Day.”
He added that the consultation process had also helped the Young Advisors to develop a number of skills, including the art of negotiation and of listening to others’ points of view.
Mark Trinder, Service Manager for Looked After Children at the Trust, said the aim of the renovation at the current property, as with all the other sites, was to make it into a proper “home”.
“We have transformed the décor, lighting and soft furnishings to what a family would have, rather than a “unit” because we want to remove the stigma associated with children’s homes. The Young Advisors also offered their ideas on how the service delivery could be improved and how a family culture could be created.
“It is incredibly important to us at the Trust that we provide the best experience for children and young people living in care and that it provides a transition to an independent adulthood.”
Guests were invited to an opening ceremony on Wednesday 1 March at which Trust Chief Executive Paul Moffat said: “Doncaster Children’s Services Trust have a very clear commitment to ensuring that we take account of the views of our children and young people on all the services we deliver for them.
“Our young advisors, like so many of our children, have matured to become young adults who will help Doncaster become an even better place to live. We are proud of them and of their achievements
“Their input has been invaluable in shaping the refurbishment of the property and making it a place young people are happy to call their home.
“We will continue to use the voice of our young people to inform service delivery.”
Also at the event, Cllr Nuala Fennelly, Doncaster Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “It was a pleasure to visit the home and meet those who have been so involved in this project. Listening to the views of our young people is vital as we continue with our improvement to provide the best services, which our children and young people truly deserve.”
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