Coram Voice has partnered with eight local authorities across the country to develop a model for improving support for care leavers through a new phase of the New Belongings programme.
Initially developed between 2013 and 2016 with funding from the Department for Education, the New Belongings programme creates and tests different practices to improve services and outcomes for care leavers, some of which have influenced national policy, including the introduction of ‘Personal Advisers to 25’ and Council Tax exemptions.
With funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Segelman Trust, Coram Voice, a charity part of the Coram group that supports children in and around the care system, is launching this new phase of the programme, using lessons from the previous phases, to support local authorities to develop their leaving care services with direct involvement from their care leavers.
Coram Voice will work in partnership with Coventry, Dorset, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire, North Tyneside, Oldham, Stockport and Wandsworth councils over the next three years.
The charity will use its expertise from its successful Bright Spots programme which includes the Your Life Beyond Care survey, the first of its kind to measure the subjective wellbeing of young care leavers and developed with care leavers themselves. All participating local authorities in the New Belongings Programme will run the survey with their care leavers and do a self-assessment of their services to help them identify priorities for action.
Each participating local authority will have a care leavers’ forum and the New Belongings team will run workshops with them and local authority staff to develop the programme. Local authorities will also have the opportunity to come together through peer learning seminars to share practice and lessons learned.
In addition, the programme will employ eight care-experienced young people as consultants to enable the engagement of local care leavers.
Linda Briheim-Crookall, Head of Policy and Practice Development at Coram Voice said: “The New Belongings programme gives us the opportunity to build on our existing Bright Spots programme and work more intensively with local authorities and their care leavers to develop services based on what care leavers themselves say is important. We are very excited to have care-experienced young people working with us to make sure this work is co-produced with the young people whose lives leaving care services are there to improve.”
Thuy Ly-Chambers, newly appointed care-experienced consultant at Coram Voice said: “I would like to learn and enrich my understanding of the experiences that care-experienced young people may have. I’m excited to be part of the New Belongings programme where I can offer my insights and assist to implement change that may help other young people.”