How Coram Voice and the Care System are working during the Coronavirus Outbreak

At Coram Voice we have adapted the ways in which we work, as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and changes it has brought about.  This is so we can be sure that we are able to provide the support needed to children and young people

We continue to be committed to getting young voices heard all over the country, with staff, volunteers and associates now working remotely. As it stands, we are following government guidance in relation to delivery of our work to children and young people in care and care leavers, as well as professionals. This includes creating news ways of working such as by phone, WhatsApp and online. 

Here are the different ways our services are working and a few ways the care system is adapting during this time.

Always Heard

We have successfully transferred our Always Heard service to remote working with a robust system in place to provide support both through the helpline and our safety net advocates.  Always Heard will continue to run as usual with remote working in place and using on line tools to provide direct support to children and young people.

You can contact Always Heard, our advocacy helpline, free on 0808 800 5792.

The line is open from Monday to Friday 9.30am–6pm and Saturday 10am–4pm.

A National Voice

A National Voice has started an online community on Twitter using the hashtag #ANationalVoice.

We will be talking about the things that are important to children and young people and encouraging debate around people’s experiences with the care system, changes they would like to see and ways Coram Voice can better support them.

We will also be providing links to useful resources and sharing events, activities and opportunities happening at a local and national level.

Child Protection Conferences

We are working with local authorities to trial ways we can continue to provide advocacy for children in Child Protection Conferences and some of our advocates are now delivering them remotely. 

Advocacy to children in residential care

We are continuing to visit children and young people in residential where this is possible and where not, we have staff phoning in to provide advocacy support.

We have also been closely working with the residential units to risk assess viability of visiting and if we can’t visit, we will make sure we are available in other ways, over the phone or on line to support young people

Complaints Services

We are working with local authorities regarding the management of complaint investigation and the availability of documentation online.

Secure Accommodation Reviews

Our Independent Persons are taking part in Secure Accommodation Reviews via Skype or Zoom.

Solicitors and legal aid forms

In terms of legal aid forms, where young people are able to, the solicitor can send them via email, and if they are able, they can print, sign and return via email. The solicitor should call the young person to talk through these forms prior to signing.

Where possible, forms can be signed digitally if young people have access to a computer. If it is not possible to get forms signed at all, the solicitor should complete as much detail as possible (client info) over the phone, and obtain the signature at the earliest point.

Government guidance on legal aid: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-legal-aid-agency-contingency-response

Training for Professionals

We are continuing to share expertise on rights and entitlements with other organisations, holding training via Skype and Zoom for professionals working with children and young people.

Law

Information from Law Stuff on Children’s services is responsible for  safeguarding and protecting the welfare of children. 

https://lawstuff.org.uk/childrens-services/coronavirus-covid-19-childrens-services/

Voices Improving Care team

To support practitioners the Voices Improving Care team is producing a series of Insight Papers on how services are responding to the Covid-19 outbreak and supporting children and young people around what is important to their well-being. Each paper will focus on a specific issue identified through our Bright Spots and New Belongings programmes.

The first Insight Paper – Care Leavers Well-being during the Covid-19 outbreak – Key Messages for Leaving Care Workers focuses on the role of the leaving care worker.

Through our peer learning network, workers will be able to share their experiences and share practice examples. If you have ideas you would like to share – get in touch, We will build a virtual peer learning network with our Bright Spots and New Belongings partners, but of course if you are not yet involved, we’d love to include you too. 

  • Sign up to our newsletter for regular updates, insights and practice ideas. 
  • Join our Online Peer Learning Seminars – we will send out details on these through the newsletter mailing list, so make sure you are signed up.
  • Follow @CoramVoice on twitter and look out for #VoicesImprovingCare.
  • Get in touch via email brightspots@coramvoice.org.uk.