By Alex, young person raised in kinship care
We are a group of young people who attend a Kinship Care Group in Liverpool. As far as we know we are the only group for young peoples being raised in kinship care in England.
We recently held a conference to raise awareness of kinship care from a young person’s perspective. The conference was held in Goodison in March and we were very proud of what we achieved. We decided that we needed to target professionals who work in social care and education as this is where we need to raise awareness. We worked very hard as a group to provide all of the professionals that attended with information. We used personal stories showcased through a variety of methods including presentations, soundbites and a monologue to show the very real challenges that we have had to face in our lives. At the same time we also wanted to ensure that we showed the positive experiences we have had being part of the project.
The aim of the day was to raise awareness of what kinship care is and show that kinship families need support. We feel that our families are often forgotten about and have gone unnoticed in the past. We shared our experiences with the professionals that attended because we wanted people to truly understand what kinship care is and what we have to deal with. We hope from doing the first ever young person’s conference that it will bring about change and hopefully other young people will know about us and can be supported. On the day we wanted action! So we asked all the professionals to make a pledge and tell us how they will support kinship families going forward.
At the conference we were joined by Sam Smethers from Grandparents Plus who kindly offered to give an explanation on what kinship care is; Pauline Thornley our project Co-ordinator who works full time for the project, our local Member of Parliament Stephen Twigg who praised our project and talked about how he would like to continue to help and support us. Bernie Brown the Assistant Director of Children’s Services , also spoke about how much she enjoyed visiting the project and meeting us as well as our kinship carers. She made it clear that she is eager for our Local Authority to work with us.
A lot of thought and time went into the preparation of the conference. We decided that two exercises were needed. Firstly we quizzed professionals about what they knew about kinship care and then went on to ask them to make a pledge. I am happy to report that both went really well and we received lots of ideas.
As young people we were pleased on how the day turned out. Our aim for the future is to be able to hold a National Conference and bring about real change for kinship carers and their families. We also think it would be great if there were other groups like ours across the country as young people need support and advice as much as our kinship carers do.