Our History

Our history

It started in a London living room in 1975. Since then Coram Voice has grown to become the leading national charity for the voice of children in care

In the beginning

In 1975, social worker Gwen James met in her living room with other social workers worried that children in care where not being listened to and from this the charity Voice for The Child in Care was born.  Their aim then , as it is now, to ensure that children in care are listened to and involved in decisions made about them.   

That was just the start of the journey.

1977 Coram Voice’s first advocacy case supporting a seven-year-old girl. 

1979 The International Year of the Child  and we launch our ‘A Voice in Their Lives’ campaign promoting the need for young people to have an independent person.  The telephone helpline in Gwen’s home is inundated.

1987 Coram Voice establishes the first visiting advocacy service to secure children’s homes.

1989 The Children Act (1989) incorporates a complaints process for children in care and the concept of an independent person working alongside the investigating officer during the investigation of complaints.

1990 Coram Voice launches our first community advocacy service in the London Borough of Greenwich.

1991 In October the Children Act (1989) is implemented, recognising the importance of listening to the wishes and feeling of children in decision making.

1991  Coram Voice establishes the first service providing Independent People for Children Act complaints.

1995 Our London-wide advocacy service is launched with the first advocacy helpline  and a team of advocates supporting children and young people from across the capital.

1998 Coram Voice’s successful advocacy for  secure children’s home leads to a request to set up the first visiting advocacy service to Medway Secure Training Centre.

2000 Coram Voice found and co-chair the National Children’s Advocacy Consortium, bringing together the main advocacy providers to campaign for advocacy as a legal right.

2001 The Children (Leaving Care Act) 2001 is implemented and  Coram Voice publish the first edition of “Sorted & Supported”, a guide for young people explaining their rights as care leavers

2002 After intense lobbying, advocacy is enshrined in law giving young people the right to an advocate when making a complaint.

2002 The National Advocacy Standards written with Coram Voice were  introduced.

2003 The Home Office ask Coram Voice to develop the model for advocacy provision in all young offender institutions and secure training centres

2004  Coram Voice’s advocacy service for children in youth offending institutions and secure training centres nationally begins

2005 Coram Voice launches the The Alliance for Child Centred Care  with the goal of improving outcomes and bringing about a truly child-centred care system.

2005 We establish our specialist projects to support care leavers and children and young people with disabilities.

2009 Coram Voice wins the Skills for Care Accolades Award for ‘most effective practice in workforce development across partner agencies’ for our work with Kirklees Council to improve looked after children’s reviews.

2010 We create ‘It’s My Review’ publication to put children and young people in the driving seat of their reviews

2011 Publication of  ‘Where’s my Advocate? , commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.  It is first report of its kind

2012 We pilot our ground breaking Homeless Outreach Project in London, removing  young people from homelessness and ensuring they receive the support from children’s services they are entitled to.

2013 Coram Voice joins the Coram group of charities in October.

2013 Our Bright Spots programme , a partnership with the University of Bristol, launches to understand from children’s point of view their care journey and what their experiences of it are like.

2014 Coram Voice’s  report   ‘The Door Is Closed’  highlights the work of our Homeless Outreach project and provides evidence of children who are homeless because they are not provided with the services they are entitled to.

2015 Coram Voice develops a new search tool for young people so they can find out where their local advocacy service is.

2015 We launch Voices, the only national writing competition for children and young people in care.

2016 The Your Life Your Care survey, developed by Bright Spots  is rolled out across six local authorities.  It gathers the views of 611 children and young people in care and  the first Bright Spots report ‘Our Lives, Our Care – looked after children’s views on their well-being’ is published.

2017 Coram Voice is awarded  the National Advocacy Advice Line and Safety Net and Always Heard is born-  making sure that no child in England will ever be without advocacy when they need it.

2017 In July Coram Voice was delighted to have been to become the home for   A National Voice and the only organisation run by and for children and young people in and leaving care.

2017 The Bright Spots Programme extends its mission to give care experienced young people a voice with the development of ‘Your Life Beyond Care’ – a survey asking care leavers about their lives and experience of leaving care. Thirty care experienced young people in two local authorities helped us write the questions and tell us about what is important to them.

2018 We set up Project Advocacy, a ground breaking collaboration with Essex police and local advocacy providers to ensure young people in contact with the police who need advocacy get it.

2018 Our Bright Spots Programme and surveys for children in and leaving care is the biggest national survey of looked after children’s views on their lives and experience, reaching 3,885 children and young people from 23 local authorities.

2018 We launch the first videos on You Tube developed by young people in care describing what advocacy is.

2019 We employ care experienced Digital Creatives who produce 8 films with other young people about  your rights leaving care