The London Borough of Havering partnered with the TIHR to evaluate their children in care council.
In 2015 the London Borough of Havering decided to relaunch their Children in Care Council (CICC). The aim of the relaunch came from the need ‘to develop the Children in Care Council to an effective and representative voice for looked after children’. The CICC is a space that allows the looked after children to put forward their thoughts and feelings of their experience with the current system and is a vital tool in influencing policy in care matters that will affect themselves and their futures. It is an opportunity to socialise with other looked after children who understand more than a friend not in care might.
Dr Sadie King ( TIHR Principal Researcher / Consultant) has been working on a process evaluation, a theory of change method, that explores ‘how’ and ‘why’ things happen rather than addressing the ‘how much’ question of an impact approach. The Theory of Change of the CICC was found to be robust and coherent. A Mental Well-being Impact Assessment identified key areas of potential positive and negative impact that should be monitored. An evaluation framework has been established that provides a template for the Pledge working group and the CICC to monitor their activities going forward.
The re-launch was supported by the engagement of external expertise through the Mayor of London’s Peer Outreach Team. The young facilitators were commissioned to provide relevant and meaningful activities to the Havering CICC members. This work gave the CICC a London-wide perspective and offered them access to wider opportunities and exposure to a diverse and vibrant community of young role models.
A performance poet named ‘Dreadlock Alien’ facilitated a ‘word harvest’ that encouraged the children to create poems from a wide range of issues that are common for children in care. A short poem named ‘Will they listen to us?’ reflects the idea behind the relaunch of the CICC, to have their voices heard as they feel they are ignored when it comes to decisions made for them.
Will they listen to us?
I might as well talk to myself at the back of the bus,
I wanna know will they listen to us?
Claire always asked ‘why am talking to myself’
Will my ideas be left sitting on the shelf?’
Mahar asked do they really care, while Jacob says nothing and just sits there and stares
To really listen to us they have to open up their ears
Maybe they will confront an avenue of fears
Each of us has a hidden personality
Live what you learn that’s kinaesthetic existentiality
Just landed here words seem so strange
Just like a big issue seller asking for change
You not decided you just sit there and hover
I always knew you were never gonna bovver
You listen so much, you kick up a fuss
Shall we put advertising on the side of a bus?
Will you pick up my words like I pick up litter?
Will you listen to me if I tweet it on twitter
When you listen when will you look
Will it be after 50 posts of Facebook
You want to listen to me but you don’t know who I am
I’ll tell you in an instance on Instagram
A pledge was made to the young people by the Corporate Parenting Panel and was genuinely co-produced with the Children in Care Council members, ‘we will support you to succeed and achieve in all areas of your life,’ ‘you will always have a voice and we will listen to you’. Vanessa Strang, the Service Manager for the fostering, adoption placement service in Havering, calls the pledge ‘powerful’ and ‘honest’ which is important for the young people as they need this kind of support from adults who are committed to them and promise to have their best interests at heart. The ‘living Pledge’ is being taken forward by a working group tasked with embedding the Pledge in all council services.
To learn more about the re-launch of London Borough of Havering’s Pledge to Children in Care and hear the views of the young people through poetry listen to the podcast below and read the full evaluation report.
Click arrow above to play.
Podcast credit: Isis Thompson