Our Chief Executive’s Young Advisors are aged 15 to 21 years and all have experiences of care. They all know the system well – what works and what doesn’t work.
They are using their experiences to help shape our work here at the Trust. You’ll find them mentoring other young people through our care councils, meeting with Directors to better understand all areas of the Trust from front-line social work to back-office corporate functions such as performance and finance. They are also involved in interviewing potential new members of staff, delivering training and even presenting at our events, to help everyone who works at the Trust to understand what life it is really like for children and young people in care.
Our Young Advisors have helped improve children’s homes, making them more friendly and inviting for everyone living there, suggested ways we can improve the way young people spend time with their brothers and sisters when they are growing up apart, and they’ve even influenced our language – we no longer say ‘contact’, we now call it ‘family time’.
Saying our Young Advisors change lives might seem dramatic, but we know even small changes can make a big difference to someone living in care.
Watch this video to find out more about the work of our Young Advisors.
Here’s a taster of some of the other ways they’ve influenced our work here at the Trust:
- Walk a mile in our shoes - Total Respect training
Our Young Advisors are able to provide a unique insight into the care system through their Total Respect training. They’ve developed and delivered training to over 300 Trust staff, foster carers and healthcare professionals.
What’s more the course has become so popular they are now rolling it out across to the country to other organisations who work with children in care.
- Getting the right person for the job
The Trust wants people who have the right skills for the job. And there is no more important skill than the ability to be able to talk to and engage with young people. That’s why our Young Advisors together with members of the Children in Care Council have been involved in the interviewing over 84% of staff for a wide range of roles – from corporate staff, social workers, advocates, Heads of Services and the Chief Executive too.
And to make sure we are getting the right people coming through to train as social workers, the Young Advisors have also been interviewing graduates from across South Yorkshire who want to join the profession.
- Making a home a home
Taking national recommendations from the Martin Narey report, our Young Advisors have worked with senior managers to transform our residential homes and make them more like a home, not a unit.
They’ve also been involved interviewing for 28 residential posts – making sure we have the right staff to support and care for our children and young people.
- Bringing national learning back into the Trust
Our Young Advisors have been at Westminster to take part in several All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) discussions on residential care and sharing their experiences of having contact with their brothers and sisters when they grow up in different homes.
They’ve brought back their learning into the Trust to influence how our homes are set up and delivered and how brothers and sisters who are living with different fosters carers can spend more time together and make memories.
- Changing social work practice
All industries have their own jargon and the world of social work is no different. Our Young Advisors through their work with the Children in Care Council have challenged just some of those words that can make them feel they have been ‘labelled’.
At Staff Summits they have shared with staff how words like ‘contact’ make them feel and instead asked works to call it ‘family time’.
It’s not just language the young advisors have been influencing. They’ve also been involved in leading work about what makes a good social work visit and changing the expectations within the Trust. You can view a copy of this document at the bottom of the page.
- Being a part of staff events
As part of the Trust team, our Young Advisors have been attending and presenting at the bi-annual staff summits. The events are a chance for the Young Advisors to share their thoughts on what can be improved at the Trust, to help staff celebrate their achievements, share their achievements and to remind staff why they come to work – to make a difference to young people and families.
- Sharing dreams and aspirations
Our Young Advisors know how important it is for children and young people growing up in care to spend time together and share their experiences, so they don’t feel alone. So last summer, they organised a fun-day event for other children in care (called the Growing up in the North event).
The event was a great opportunity for children and young people living in foster care to share their experiences, what they want changing and their aspirations for the future.
- Speaking out about mental health
Mental health is very important to our young people and they often tell us they feel it can’t be talked about enough. It is an issue that we know affects a lot of children in care. So we are really proud of our Young Advisors who are working with Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) on a national project to improve mental health and wellbeing for all children in England.